Friday, July 27, 2012


I was visiting my mother-in-law in June and we discussed an unusual plant in her garden. It looked similar to celery. She did not plant it and assumed that a bird must have dropped a seed into her garden. This plant was large and healthy. It grew well in her soil. We did not know what it was, we were curious.

Last week I was visiting Mackinac Island in Michigan and was introduced to the same plant. She called it lovage and said it could be used as a substitute for celery. The woman at the historical home was using it as a celery substitute as she was making pumpkin soup (period costumes, period cooking, and period foods were being used in this venue).

Two "happenings" related to the same plant in two months made me curious to learn more about it. Is it something I wish to grow? Is it the same as celery or are there different nutritional benefits?

I first went to wikipedia to learn about the plant. It's a good starting point, not an ending point for research. I found that the seeds can be used as a spice, the root as a vegetable and the leaves in soup. Sounds like a plant that packs a punch.

Digging deeper I found out that this plant has lost its mystique. WHY? it appears to be 100% edible? Seems like a good use of soil and water to me! Recipes using lovage are found at I am excited to try to chilled lettuce, lovage, and green pea soup ... after all, it is the middle of a HOT summer...sounds refreshing!

For more information, read

Sciatica - Steps to Relief!

I was reading the current issue of Yoga Journal Magazine yesterday and happened upon an article about sciatica. BACK PAIN is NOT what anyone is looking for ... it is one of the reasons why people exercise. Let's look at ways we can strengthen our backs to ward off or relieve sciatica pain!

The PIRIFORMIS MUSCLE needs to be strong to assist us in movement. This muscle can get irritated and rub against the sciatic nerve, thus causing the condition known commonly as sciatica. Yoga Journal has a list of poses that can assist in relieving sciatica, check out the full list when you have a moment.

A great YOGI stretch the piriformis includes tree pose.

TREE POSE can be done seated or standing. Standing is traditional BUT seated is an option if you are just starting or inflamed. To modify into a seated pose, sit with your legs as they would be in the standing position. If your right knee is bent, then place your hands on the floor behind you and open your right hip slightly to the right. DO NOT attempt to square your hips - the focus is to externally rotate the hip of the bent knee leg. Do the same for the left side. What do you do with your hands you may ask? Well, you can keep them in prayer and focus on your breathing and posture, aiming your shoulders in opposite directions, rather than rounding them (which is how we tend to sit in a chair or in the car - fight the urge!). You can take your hands in prayer behind your back or lift your arms into a "goal post" to open your shoulders. Tree pose is great for sciatica as it strengthens the piriformis muscle and stretches the "glutes" as the hip externally rotates. If you need support, place a hand on a wall or a chair to help the lower leg stay strong!

Another YOGI stretch for the piriformis includes padangusthasana and its variations. This pose allows the glutes to stretch, which in turn, make the piriformis work a little bit less as it will encounter less resistance. Variations for this pose exist. One variation is to approach this pose from a seated position and another is to bend your knees (seated or standing) enough to accommodate the length of YOUR hamstrings. Not everyone can touch their toes with straight what you not hurt yourself to look like the "picture perfect pose". The picture gives you a mental picture of where your practice is growing.

This pose can be taken to another level with full engagement of the piriformis and, thus, an external rotation of the hip. Again, this can be done supine and with a strap or towel to help you reach your toes/foot. EXTENDED HAND-TO-BIG-TOE POSE is a deep stretch...engage your abdominals by drawing your navel to your spine so you keep your back strong as you work through your glutes and piriformis.

Keep working each day to maintain a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gluten Free and TRAVELING...Tips to make the trip easier

If you are flying and maintain a GLUTEN FREE diet you may face challenges in the airport or on the flight with teh small selection of snacks afforded to you. Why not pack your own!

Depending on the length of your travels you could pack a snack mix of your favorite nuts, dried fruits, and gluten free pretzels. You could make a sweeter snack mix using gluten free CHEX cereal, nuts, and dried fruit.

You could pack a plastic storage container with leftovers ... just be mindful of the choice you make ... scents can overwhelm people in closed spaces!

Vegetables and hummus will provide you with a healthy and nutritious snack ... and fill you up.

Apples and peanut butter are a good selection as well.

Nature Valley Almond Crunch is a prepackaged Gluten Free product you can carry with you to tied you by while you travel.

Pack up what you need to travel in COMFORT ... you will have a much better experience!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Flaxseed Meal ... What Do I DO With It?

As a yoga and pilates instructor I find it important to not only be fit through exercise but also to eat healthy. I love going to the farmer's market and exploring new fruits and vegetables. Last week I saw celery root ... cannot wait to get it next time and try it!

What I have fallen in love with integrating into my cooking is FLAXSEED MEAL (Bob's Red Mill). Ground Flaxseeds are high in fiber and Omega 3s and help keep cholesterol in control as they act as a digestive aid. You only need TWO TABLESPOONS a day - a small amount packs a punch! From my research I have found that flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, therefore it is great for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. With diabetes in my family, I try to stay cognizant of foods that may help relatives have a healthy diet. Flaxseeds also include B vitamins, something my physician said I needed to include more of in my diet.

How do I integrate them into my daily life? A few simple ways:
1. Sprinkle on cereal or yogurt with your breakfast
2. Add to baking mixes (muffins, breads, scones, and cookies)
3. Add to homemade granola bar recipes instead of wheat germ (great for those on a gluten free diet)
4. Combine with peanut butter and jelly for a bit of extra fiber
5. Sprinkle on rice, quinoa, or other grains just before will never know it is there!

Two Tablespoons in not much ... BUT you do not need to start with the full serving. Try a pinch here or there ... then add more if your body responds well to the addition!

Bob's Red Mill has a list of recipes that integrate FLAXSEED MEAL ... perhaps you will get a few ideas from the company that you can incorporate into your cooking! The FIRST one from this list that I will try is the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Granola Bars.

It never hurts to try something new on a small scale. A bag of flaxseed meal goes a long way. Experiment with the product and you may find that it is one that you will want to always keep on hand in the pantry!