Recipe: Honey & Pistachio Rice Pudding ๐Ÿš

As we’ve established in previous articles, winter is not the time to go on a deprivation diet nor feed our bodies with cold salads or smoothies. Instead, what we want to do is ๐ง๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก our bodies with warming foods which will enable it to better perform its detoxifying duties.

This Honey & Pistachio Rice Pudding recipe is just one of many in the upcoming Express Detox: Winter Edition. The masterclass includes recipes and menu-planning for the 10 days. We use real food, no weird supplements or energy powders. Enjoy this pudding as a breakfast, snack or dessert during these cold winter days!

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup rice, cooked

1 can coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick (or buy in bulk like we did)

1/4 cup pistachios

1/2 tsp organic honey (optional)

Instructions

Cook the rice or use previously cooked rice (from package in link above or leftovers). In a sauce pan add the rice, along with the coconut milk and cinnamon stick. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until flavors have melded. Remove from heat and serve in a bowl with pistachios on top and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!

๐Ÿ’€ Don’t Diet in Winter: Why

It’s been at the top New Year’s Resolutions for at least the past 50 years: “lose weight” or “improve diet.”

At first glance, these goals seem health-promoting and socially acceptable. What usually follows though is a rather rigid set of rules around eating: what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, what to avoid. This is popularly referred to as a diet and, it’s the worst. Especially during winter. Here’s why:

What’s wrong with dieting?

Anyone who has followed these rule-bound ways of eating will probably tell you two things: yes, they are losing weight and how many days left until they can come off of the diet. This points to a few problems with a restrictive diet:

1. The most popular diets are built primarily on deprivation. And absolutes. There is solemnity to the rules, as if divinely written onto tablets like the 10 Commandments rather than one person’s opinion written on paper. As long as you follow the rules of the diet, you’re a saint. Otherwise, you are one of them, the sinners and failures of the world.

2. Diets are often crazy-making in all their rules and even choosing the right diet (as many are contradictory). Is it okay to eat 1/2 cup of brown rice per day or should you be grain-free? Is the paleo diet better than a vegan one? Confusion abounds before even starting.

3. It’s not intuitive or customized at all. For example, most diet books will tell you to eat something specific, like half of grapefruit with a piece of whole-wheat toast and peanut butter for breakfast. It completely ignores the fact that you might be on a medication with which grapefruit interferes, that one of your kids is allergic to peanut butter, and that you are gluten-sensitive. So, is that a “healthy” breakfast? Maybe for someone else, but not for you. Following the diet’s recommendations might just cause more issues than it solves. Also, it usually encourages using willpower to deal with cravings rather than learning how to sate them.

4. We are often dieting for the wrong reasons. We think being thinner or leaner will automatically improve our lives, but we haven’t even addressed our thoughts or the areas of life we want to improve and how to get ourselves to step into the next version of ourselves. Confidence can, and does, come from many other aspects of life that don’t involve squeezing yourself into a smaller size.

5. Lastly, they are not sustainable. Diets don’t work. Once our days of waiting for the 3-day raw juice cleanse or 30-day paleo diet have come to an end, we often slip right back into our bad habits of late-night snacking, sweet treats, having “cheat meals”, or rationalizing stress-induced overeating.

What’s wrong with dieting during winter?

This has got to be one of the absolute worst times to introduce a cold, low-fat, crash diet.

Among the many mistakes of dieting discussed above, the added the layer of this season can cause things to go south pretty quickly.

From an Ayurvedic perspective (here’s a primer), there’s an ancient, time-tested and rather intuitive way of eating and caring for your body in each season.

If we look at what the earth produces in each season, it gives us a clue as to what we should be eating to maximize our health. Spring is a wonderful time to have salads, greens, berries and sprouts. Summer is when we can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables being offered by our gardens and farmers markets. Fall and winter is when the squashes of the season, nuts, meat or plant-based proteins, hearty grains, and root vegetables are best. Cooked, warming foods are key during this cold and dry season.

People generally, in their quest to cut calories, often decimate the fat in the diet. On the face of it, this change makes sense – fat has more than twice the amount of calories per gram of carbohydrates and protein. However, what is often not taken into account is that during the winter season, our bodies need healthy fats to help protect our skin and lubricate our joints.

This is simultaneously an old and new way of looking at how best to fuel our bodies with nutrition. Though we all often act like every day of the year is the same, especially with foods being available year-round in grocery stores and our with temperature-controlled environments, the fact is that we need to live in concert with winter.

The antidote to winter’s cold and dryness is eating warm, nourishing, oily foods. That’s why you’ll find you’ll find the recipes for meals and beverages that support your body’s detoxification processes in our Express Detox: Winter Edition masterclass.

The Organized Closet: 5 Steps ๐Ÿ‘—

The state of your home does have an impact on your outlook, thoughts and feelings. Clutter and chaos often cause sense of overwhelm, oppression, and a lack of control. These feelings can spill over from our homes into our careers and lives.

Unlike a colossally stressful goal of “clean the house this year”, let’s get a specific result that might just fuel you on the rest of your quest. The goal is not to do everything at once – luckily, closet organization can be completed in just a couple hours. Here’s how:

1. Assess the situation. We’ve had tiny closets, long ones, and walk-ins. Your space can help dictate the amount of clothes that can comfortably fit. It might also inform you of the need for a dresser or to store out-of-season clothing elsewhere. Also, evaluate the amount of clothing and shoes you have. Do you need your formal business attire if your working-from-home situation allows for business casual? Is having 40 t-shirts from every club or run you participated in during your college years necessary or might 20 shirts be enough? Do you live in the same clothes week-by-week and ignore all the stuff in your closet because it doesn’t fit or otherwise makes you feel depressed or guilty? Conversely, do you see some of your favorite items – those that always make you feel sophisticated and composed – hidden among the “great deals” that weren’t or clothing with tags still on them? Release your self-judgement for a minute. We’re not going to focus on our sartorial mistakes or weight gain; we’re focusing on the future.

2. Envision who you’d like to be and how your space might be more welcoming to you. If you take a moment and close your eyes, try to conjure an image of yourself a year from now. What activities are you engaged in? What new, healthy behaviors and thoughts do you have? Then do the same for your closet. You’ve assessed the space and the wardrobe you have at-a-glance. Can you imagine how you’d feel walking into a cleared-out, organized, and colorful closet everyday? How might that influence the start of your day and how you show up at work and in life?

3. Declutter and edit. If you’ve seen our other closet organization articles, you’ll see that we agree with Marie Kondo’s method of pulling *everything* out of your wardrobe. Yes, part of it is the shock and perhaps horror involved as we realize the true need for editing down. The other part is that you can see all of your coats, pants, socks, dresses in one place; this makes it easier to decided how many sweaters are truly needed…or to see that dress we’ve always not liked for some reason *still* hanging out in the closet. It’s time to go!

Use your rational mind and your intuition as you comb through the mountain of clothes. Create three piles: yes, no, and maybe. Pull your most obvious favorites and put them into your “yes” or keep section. The clothing that annoys you, doesn’t fit, or has holes you know you won’t fix goes into the “no” pile. Thank it for its service Konmari-style if you want. The tricky part is that the “maybe” pile might get rather large. Rather than allow ourselves to be confused and indecisive for a majority of our clothing, we limit this pile to 10 pieces. Once the 11th item is thrown in there, we have to move another piece to the “yes” or “no” pile. Give it a try. Depending on how many clothes you are dealing with, this process can take 45 minutes or 2 hours.

4. Organize. As you place items back in your closet, organize by type of clothing (e.g. pants, dresses, shirts), length (shorter dresses to longer ones), and color. This will help you find what you are looking for faster and create a beautiful composition of your clothing. Having the same hangers throughout the closet also help. Or you can do what we did and have separate hanger colors for you and your partner’s sections.

5. Think of this as a continuous process of refinement. As you rotate through the outfits in your closet, you might find that you don’t actually like the way the green sweater looks on your anymore. You notice how you’re tired of fighting the pilling of fabric. Whatever the case may be, you don’t have to wait until the next closet clean-out to make a change. Keep a box in your garage for donations and every time you encounter a pair of shoes that gives you blisters or pants that don’t look or feel right, release it immediately. Use your hangers to keep you accountable in your shopping. If you don’t have more than 2 free hangers, don’t buy 6 items. Or release another 4 things to accommodate your new and improved clothing purchases. This will prevent your closet from accumulating too much clutter like before.

Want to see our before and after videos? Use it for inspiration to see how you can create a functional, welcoming wardrobe for yourself!

Recipe: DIY Divine Vanilla Sugar โ„๏ธ

Maybe you know the kind of Italian nonna whose recipe doesn’t include the secret ingredient that takes the dish from “bravo” to “bellisimo!” Though we could keep this up our sleeves as well, we wouldn’t do that to you. This DIY vanilla sugar recipe is divine; it ‘blesses’ pretty much any baked good with a delicate, fruit-floral aroma and taste. Beyond making your taste buds sing, some properties of vanilla can help calm and protect your nervous system – which make it perfect for hectic holidays! Just like the DIY 2-ingredient Vanilla Extract recipe, this one is supremely simple. We recommend doing both at once since you’ll get the most out of the vanilla beans.

We might sprinkle this highly-valuable vanilla sugar into our gluten-free cinnamon bun recipe, Banana Nut Bread, or on top of the Anytime Warm Apple Crisp. Use it as a substitute for regular white sugar and your coffee, tea, cookies, brownies, and other holiday baked goods will have everyone asking for your secret ingredient. It’s up to you whether you tell them ๐Ÿ˜‰

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep: 5 minutes

Yields: 6 cups

Ingredients

6 vanilla bean pods

6 cups organic granulated sugar

Instructions

Using a knife, carefully slice a vanilla bean pod length-wise. Scrape the inside seeds of the bean into a small glass container. Remember, you can reuse the beans to make vanilla extract so put them aside to save them if that’s your plan. Put the granulated sugar into the blender/food processor/coffee grinder to blend the vanilla bean with it. When the seeds have broken down and dispersed in the mixture, your job is basically done! You can enjoy the sugar immediately or reap the reward of getting the best flavor by waiting for a few weeks.

You can store the sugar in any container youโ€™d like. We use hinged, glass Mason jars to store the sugar, making sure it’s tightly sealed to keep it fresh. These containers also make it easy to gift some divine vanilla sugar to anyone who likes to bake or add sweetness to their coffee or tea.

Your Exercise Plan for Winter ๐Ÿ‹๏ธ

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

In just a few short weeks, the holidays will be over and New Year’s resolutions will have people flooding into the gyms and eschewing sugar. For a short while. Most of us know reasons why our resolutions fizzle out not long after the champagne celebrations and the Times Square ball drop. One, we’ve overloaded ourselves with drastic changes and, two, we didn’t even give ourselves a stretch or running start. Hopefully we will inspire you to start now with bringing exercise into winter.

Express yourself

What do you like to, not should, do? What forms of physical activity do you enjoy engaging in that get you into a state of flow or make you feel the best?

Think back to toys, games, sports and activities you enjoyed in your youth. Did you enjoy softball, kickball, soccer or tennis? There are teams and leagues for those activities in most towns.

What about swimming, street hockey, playing tag, or spending hours bicycling on your own or with friends? There are elements of each activity you enjoyed that can be brought back into your present state.

For example, ballet as a youth might have turned into dancing at clubs or bars and now could further morph into salsa, ballroom, or even Irish dancing.

Flying solo? It’s adventure time! Perhaps you loved ‘field day’ at school; you may not find it fun to potato sack race by yourself, but that’s what Meetup groups are for! You can find others who enjoy the same activities you do, like hiking combined with mushroom hunting, even if they are relatively obscure.

If you enjoyed martial arts when you were younger, you might enjoy taking it back up and going to classes at a studio, or you might want to consider practicing punches on a boxing bag.

Equipment needed

Indoors

These should all be easier to obtain after the buying sprees of 2020, thankfully. Check out your local buy/sell/trade groups or even Ebay for some secondhand equipment. If you want brand-new, consider what you truly need and where to start.

For example, since we aren’t traveling to our Pilates and barre classes during potentially hazardous weather, we have obtained the bands, ball, and mat needed to do the activity.

Like biking? We’ve put our bike on this stand for the third year in a row and have it set up in front of a TV so we can run YouTube videos and pretend we are riding through Europe. Do what you need to do to make life fun and get the exercise done.

Yoga is probably one of the most accessible, least equipment-heavy activities. A simple mat, a YouTube video (we like Yoga with Adriene), and maybe a cute bunny or two is all we need.

Ready to walk around with better posture and stronger bones and muscles? Look into equipment like the ones we use in our home gym area: free weights (2lb, 5lb, and 10lb) and these adjustable free weights, a medicine ball, more resistance bands/cords and this beastly Power Tower.

Want more fun? If your ceilings are high enough and you have good balance, consider an indoor mini-trampoline (it’s on our wish list from Santa this year too :)).

If you have a partner, kids, or friends who will play, a ping pong table is pretty great.

A gym might be the place to join when you are looking to swim indoors or to lift a number of heavy weights and don’t want to fill your basement with stuff that will gather dust.

Outdoor protection and gear

Protect your core temperature (no pun intended) with an insulating shirt for cold weather. We’ve had this one for over a decade and it fulfills the duty for which it was intended. This is the men’s version.

If you want a soft, warm hat that shows you have a sense of humor about winter, our sister site CraftyBeavers is the place to go.

Ice and snow grips are worth having for your shoes, especially if you plan to walk or run during the winter months; this is the one we have. It has saved us from falling and injury; well worth the monetary exchange.

If you want to be able to pause or play a podcast on your phone, try these mittens that open into fingerless gloves so that your entire hand doesn’t freeze.

Need extra warmth? Call upon the trusty air-activated hand warmers or some rechargeable ones.

Remember sunscreen! Just because it’s cold and cloudy doesn’t mean we can’t have our skin damaged by the sun’s invisible radiation rays.

Or, try a thermal fleece breathable balaclava or ski mask which will help protect your skin from UV rays and the cold.

As you can see here, there are plenty of options to keep our hearts and bodies healthy! Keep in mind that you can slowly build up your equipment. Just start with picking one or two items that will help you achieve your goals.

Winter is not the enemy of our exercise, we just have to adjust to the season. A truism the Nordic people like to share is “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Now that you have an idea of the most suitable type of exercise for you as well as the equipment required to perform the activity and protect yourself from the elements, you’re ready – half the battle has been won! Start now; don’t wait for January 1st.

๐Ÿ’ My Precious: Pomegranate

If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you probably got the movie reference from the title and ring emoji alone. Gollum, a rather unfortunate-looking character, is so completely obsessed with the Ring that he calls it “my precious”.

Unlike Gollum, we are less passionate about rings than we are about the ruby-red pomegranate seeds that become available this time of year. The fruit is supremely scrumptious and it offers a whole host of benefits to your body. Let’s explore:

When are Pomegranates available?

The pomegranates in the United States tend to come from the warmer parts, such as California. The fruits need the hot, hot heat (not the band) in order to grow well. The delectable fruit becomes available to us starting in late September and extends through November. Fortunately, because pomegranates do well in storage, you should still seem them available in December and possibly into early January. In summary, it’s available now so run and get yourself some!

Nutritional aspects of Pomegranates

These juicy fruits pack a flavor and nutritional punch! They are a great source of fiber, which can help with constipation, weight loss, and balancing blood sugar.

Pomegranates have vitamins and minerals, including: calcium, phosphorus, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. This fruit also has antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties which can help the brain and urinary tract, boost physical performance, benefit the cardiovascular and digestive systems, and assist in disease prevention.

What ice cream can’t do, pomegranates can!

How to use and eat Pomegranate

You could eat the seeds themselves as a meal or a snack. We like to have it as a breakfast on its own, with nondairy yogurt, or with the Amaranth for Breakfast recipe (subbing the fruit in for the strawberries).

Pomegranate pancakes are also really good and they have a bit more crunch than blueberry pancakes.

For lunch or dinner, some like pomegranate in their salads or in a rice pilaf.

For dessert, we’ve even put pomegranate seeds on vegan cheesecake and made a syrup out of it.

You are only limited by your imagination.

Let us know – after having fresh pomegranate seeds are you too calling them “my precious”? How do you like to eat yours?

4 Beverages for Cozy Weather

The weather here in the Midwest likes to engage in a bit of trickery. Last week, it was sunny and in the 70s and this week, well, it feels like winter. It’s time to pull out the hats and coats as well as the ingredients for making some warming, cozy beverages. Here are some recipes to fit the season:

  • Our Dairy-free Hot Chocolate was a staple recipe nearly every evening last winter. Whether we were reading a favorite book or magazine or watching holiday movies and the Great British Baking Show, hot chocolate was by our side.
  • For those who don’t want to have to choose between hot chocolate and coffee, we have a most excellent collaboration between the two: 5-spice Hot Choffee (choffee being a portmanteau of hot chocolate and coffee)
  • Celebrate with some Peppermint Eggnog! The egg-less, vegan version is included too.
  • Make yourself the Perfect Cup of Tea and head over to cuddle up on the couch. Increase your knowledge of teas and check in with yourself about which one you need.
  • Whichever beverage you choose to warm yourself up or celebrate with, enjoy!

    Ready to Banish the Bloat?! ๐Ÿคฐ

    If you’ve felt five months pregnant with significant bloating and discomfort, you’re in the right place.

    Though we all might joke about “food babies”, we know how uncomfortable and even painful bloating can be. Clothes start to constrict around the abdomen and kill self-confidence. The over-stretched gut drives you to distraction and zaps you of your energy. As you switch to comfy clothes and sit on the couch, you wonder if certain foods are to blame. Or maybe it’s over-indulging. Maybe you don’t have a clue and you just take some probiotics and wait it out for the next few hours. Then this situation repeats itself within days or weeks. You’re confused about the cause and frustrated with how the bloating never seems to stay away for long.

    Here’s the kicker: bloating isn’t just a superficial issue of looking good in your clothes. It can be a symptom of an underlying health condition and can lead to more serious issues.


    It doesn’t have to be this way! Imagine that you can…

    • Wear your clothes comfortably with a flatter stomach and a powerful confidence, knowing that you know how to prevent and solve your bloating.
    • Experience better energy and leave discomfort behind!
    • Learn strategies to help you through the holidays AND daily living.

    Introducing the Banish the Bloat program!

    You’ll learn how to eliminate bloating, even if you’re unsure of where to start. You’ll have a way to identify your problem foods without eliminating all your favorite foods or pure guesswork. You’ll get a customized guide to track your meals and patterns so that you know what contributes to your bloating.

    In addition, we’ll guide you on the foods to add and subtract, evaluating for food sensitivities and intolerances, eating tips, gut-healing items, and lifestyle factors that can prevent bloating.

    How it works:

    The 5-week Banish the Bloat online group program begins right after Thanksgiving with the first module arriving by Saturday, November 26th so that you can review and do your first action plan over the weekend.

    Modules are provided a few days before each live Q + A call so that you have time to review the material and do the practice assignments. The dates of the calls are as follows:

    Tuesday, November 29th at 7pm EST

    Tuesday, December 6th at 7pm EST

    Tuesday, December 13th at 7pm EST

    Tuesday, December 20th at 7pm EST

    Tuesday, December 27th at 7pm EST

    Recordings will be made available.

    This is the first time we are offering this problem-solving program in an online format and it’s the only time that it will be offered at the low rate of $97.

    Ready to solve your bloating issues for good? Join in by clicking here. Have questions? Schedule a time to talk.

    Be proactive & gather the tools and guidance you need to improve your gut and banish the bloat through the holidays and beyond!

    In the Client Spotlight with Teresa Curtiss! ๐ŸŽ‰

    How did this program change things for you?

    This program was a game changer for me. I knew I had food sensitivities and thought I had cut all of them out of my diet, but yet I was still sick. I learned that I had a reaction to some of the healthy things I was eating daily [emphasis added]. I finally have a list of foods to stay away from, no more guessing at what might be the issue. I stay clear of these, plus some additional food intolerances, and I feel great. 

    What surprises and new strengths have you gotten from this experience?

    I have my health back. Iโ€™m starting to enjoy food again instead of dreading eating and getting sick. I was just sticking with the same items that I thought were safe, not wanting to try new recipes.

    My diet has opened up to more options now that I know what to avoid. Iโ€™m surprised at how much more variety of foods I can eat now. Even though there are quite a few foods I need to steer clear of (for now), I still have more options than I did before. Iโ€™ve just recently gone back to recipes in my cookbooks that I loved in the past, but thought they were making me sick. I can eat them again with no issues.

    What is the thing you benefited from and/or enjoyed the most so far?

    Getting my health back!

    I had hoped to find out all the foods I had a food sensitivity to and to relieve my symptoms. I didnโ€™t know I could feel this good again! Itโ€™s wonderful to be able to consistently feel good and not have to worry about my symptoms interfering with my day and holding me back from the things I want to accomplish.

    I really appreciate our time together and definitely hope to stay in touch (I just referred someone to you last week).

    Thanks,

    Teresa Curtiss


    Imagine something ‘healthy’ you eat almost everyday – like a banana or maybe some kale – and it actually being the culprit behind your symptoms! This is one of the reasons why it’s important to assess for food sensitivities and intolerances – a problem food could be flying beneath the radar because it’s a ‘health food’. Luckily, Teresa has figured out some of the major ones and her symptoms have improved! Could identifying potential food sensitivities do the same for you? Find out here and schedule a complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call to get started!

    Recipe: ๐ŸŽƒ Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

    We are well aware that anything pumpkin spice related is “basic white girl” so we’ll spare you both in the name of this delicious smoothie and with photos of us throwing leaves in the air for Instagram with the #thankful.

    A note about this recipe: like some of the other frozen banana recipes, the reason we like to use them this way is due to the ice crystals and creamy texture they impart. Remember to peel your bananas and then stick them in a baggie to freeze for at least a couple of hours.

    Prep time: 5 minutes

    Servings: 2; makes about 5 cups total

    Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

    Ingredients

    2 bananas, frozen

    1 can of organic pureed pumpkin, 15oz

    1 scoop protein powder (we used banana cinnamon pea protein from Truvani)

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    1/2 tbsp organic maple syrup

    2 cups cashew milk

    Dairy-free whipped cream (optional)

    Instructions

    Place all ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until contents have creamy texture. Enjoy with some dairy-free whipped cream on top, if desired.