Going through life, one practice, one breath, one day at a time.

Monthly Archives: February 2013

In my posting from this weekend, I mentioned that a trip to Rollin’ Oats was not only about the only social interaction I had all weekend, but it was also incredibly enlightening!

One lesson was my introduction to the many ways to use psyllium beyond just taking a capsule with a glass of water.

But, that wasn’t the only discovery I made. Standing in front of the coconut oils and reveling in the fabulousness of the magical substance and its many uses, I began talking to a woman who, I soon came to learn, had lost about 150 pounds — and she did it the healthy way, simply eating better foods and getting moving.

As I shared with her my not-so-secret secret about a Tampa-based coconut oil company, Kelapo, she told me about her little guilty pleasure, coconut crystals!

coconut crystals

Rollin’ Oats had the brand Coconut Secret. I didn’t know much about it. My new, and smaller, friend from the oil-aisle told me she uses it like brown sugar. Her one suggestion was using it on roasted, mashed squash. From what I can tell, you can also use it like any other sweetener in tea, dessert recipes and on cereals. Supposedly it is more sweet than coconutty but it sounds to me like it’d be amazing in oatmeal and possibly even my morning pleasure…  coffee.

It’s important to note here that when I changed my diet, there’s one of the common practice of vegans that I refused to fall into – and that is finding substitutes for unhealthy foods that just happen to be vegan — translation, foods that may not be made with animal products but are still made with a whole lot of ingredients not found in nature, i.e. all those fake chicken-like products you can find in the freezer section, etc. The same goes for sugar and sugar substitutes. Most of the time I would rather eat something less sweet than add a sweetener that’s just going to send me looking for more and more sweets. It’s no secret that eating sweet foods send us down a slippery slope of wanting more and more sweets. Granted, sweeteners with a lower glycemic index temper this slightly, but it’s still a practice I would rather avoid most of the time.

But, of course, the grocery store conversation still piqued my interest, which meant coming home and doing a little more research.

The crystals are made from the sap of the coconut tree and are sometimes called palm sugar and it DOES have some health benefits.

In addition to its low-glycemic index (GI 35) which makes it diabetic-friendly, the crystals are chock-full of other nutritional benefits including:

  • 17 amino acids
  • High levels of vitamin C
  • Broad-spectrum B vitamins, including inosital which has a calming effect along with reducing blood cholesterol
  • Nearly neutral pH.
  • It also is high in inulin which means it’s digestive friendly.
  • Now, I can’t speak for all brands, but this particular one is supposedly also good for raw foodies. The makers of it say it is enzymatically alive.

The other aspect of coconut crystals that is especially appealing is that it is not artificial like so many sweeteners out there. It’s not even a by-product of sugar like so many of the sweet-things out there today. Instead, it is an all-natural, whole food that just gives a little oomph to other foods – and to your body!

In the sake of full disclosure, I didn’t end up buying coconut crystals this weekend, but my order is in with Vitacost.com (the lowest price I could find) so I’m excited about getting my canister and trying it out.

I will be sure to report back with any updates!

In the meantime, here are some links to the various brand pages and where to buy.


I’ve known that there’s something a little odd about the fact that when I’m bored, one of  my favorite activities is to go to Whole Foods or some other local organic market and wander around. A few years ago I used to actually have a routine on the weekend where I would go to a produce market and 2-3 organic markets to get all of the foods and treats I enjoy because no one store had them all. It would take me hours to complete the shopping circuit, but, oddly, it made me really happy!

At the time, I would chalk this somewhat odd behavior to at least being productive since I was buying foods that would last me a while and my diet was much stricter than it is now.

Well, today I realized something. I’m officially a health food geek. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a title I wear with a great deal of pride.

I spent most of this lovely Saturday wandering around aimlessly, even stopped to get a bite to eat at a restaurant/bar that has both good food and good outside atmosphere. Since I wasn’t exactly feeling it, I decided to head out and stopped at Rollin’ Oats on my way home to pick up some roasted veggies from their pre-made food section.

But, did I stop there? Of course not! And I learned a few interesting food facts along with way.

The many uses of psyllium.

The many uses of psyllium.

One was about Psyllium Husk.

Psyllium had come up in a conversation with a friend recently. She was looking for something to keep her ‘regular’ and psyllium supplements were at the top of my list of recommendations. But, I was only familiar with pysllium as a capsule.

Today, I discovered you can buy psyllium powder and the entire husk to use various ways — including in recipes. And there it was in the bulk food section right below the nuts all along. Despite all of my research into health food and, especially digestive supplements and high fiber products, I had no idea until I heard a gentleman asking about it for a friend of his who is coming to visit him.

For those of you unfamiliar with pysllium, it’s a source of serious fiber. I sort of envision it like a sponge. This is probably more than a bit of a simplistic explanation, but I think of it like a dry sponge/brillo pad in your intestine that absorbs water and expands as it moves through, scraping up and dragging all the gunk in the intestines with it, and, well, not to be gross, but then disposing of all that at the other end.

Being the nosy person I am and always overhearing conversations and piping in my two cents, I took this opportunity to ask the man about the psyllium powder and husks and how to use them. Unfortunately, he didn’t share a whole lot trade secrets, but it was enough to send the research part of my brain into overdrive when I got home.

Here’s what I discovered…

First, on top of the fabulous benefit of keeping you regular, because it’s so high in fiber (70% soluble fiber and 30% insoluble fiber) and because it expands the way it does, it can help with weight loss since it fills you up. I’ve read that it’s also highly beneficial in helping to treat IBS and even fights the risk of stroke in obese individuals.

And, here’s the part I really didn’t know before today…

  • You can add psyllium to a juice or some other drink, just be sure you drink it quickly before it thickens up. 
  • You can add psyllium powder to baked goods to increase the fiber content without adding calories or flavor
  • When combined with water psyllium works as an egg-replacement to bind ingredients in gluten-free baking!
  • It makes smoothies thicker and decreases levels of the hormone ghrelin (a Dr. Oz favorite). Ghrelin is what tells you that you’re hungry, so by decreasing the levels, you  feel full faster.

So, there you have it! The many uses of pysllium. But one really, really important note — Drink LOTS of water! Since psyllium absorbs all that water, if you don’t replace it, you will very likely end up dehydrated! You’ve been warned – from the girl who is so terrible about drinking water that I had to put an app on my phone to remind me.  🙂

Of course, you know what this means! Guess who’s going to be back at Rollin’ Oats tomorrow!

Diet is a funny thing. There’s healthy food. And there’s a healthy diet. But the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Admittedly, I’m a prime example of that. I’m pretty sure my body has been screaming that fact at me for some time now. I’ve just refused to listen.

Of course, the great irony here is that my whole quest to eat healthy started because I wasn’t feeling good. I took out all the foods I knew to be “bad” and then the foods I thought to be “bad” out of my diet. That left, in my mind, only healthy and clean foods — with a few select exceptions, i.e chips and guacamole, sweet potato fries, and alcohol (don’t judge! A girl’s gotta have some vice!). But even my not-so-healthy foods I’ve managed to justify as being okay to eat because they’re not laden with ingredients that I can’t pronounce and all sorts of additives that are created in some creepy lab somewhere. They’re also, in my mind at least, void of processed sugar. So, that’s good, right?

Unfortunately for me, I’m also hyper-aware of the foods my body likes and doesn’t like, among them, foods that are highly recommended for most people, i.e. flax, salads, many fruits, agave, etc. With all that taken out, it doesn’t leave a whole lot, especially for someone who is often too impatient to cook and is anti-microwave, which means a hot meal at work has an added challenge.

Suffice it to say, with so many ‘rules’ in my diet, what should be a completely healthy diet, turns into a diet void of nutrition. Okay, maybe not totally void, but certainly not exploding with nutrients like you might expect. And, every so often, I realize the impact this is having on my body. I’m tired. I can’t concentrate. I become irritable.

Any of this sounding familiar??

Newsflash. It’s because your body NEEDS nutrients! No, really! It does! And, all the clean eating in the world won’t change that. The body cannot function on oatmeal, rice and chips alone. Even a bag of almonds from Starbucks, yummy and full of protein they may be, aren’t enough to keep your brain in top shape. And that protein shake… it’s a great start, but, again, still not enough to keep your body going when that’s all the protein you give it in a 24-hour time span!

As a general rule, 10- 15% of your caloric intake should come from protein. So, what does that mean? If you eat 2,000 calories a day, 200 – 300 calories should come from protein. Or, put another way, you should get 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 120 pound woman, that’s 54 kilograms, or 54-ish grams of protein.

Now, let’s take that a step further to putting it in bite size, digestable information – specifically for the vegetarians among us.

  • A can of Amy’s Lentil Vegetable soup has 14 grams of protein. (hint – you’ll need 3+ cans for your daily intake!)
  • A can of Amy’s chili (can you tell I like Amy’s??) has 30 grams of protein. (MUCH better)
  • LightLife tempeh (1/2 a brick, which is about how much I eat/serving) has 19 grams. Not bad…
  • Chip and Guacamole. Sorry… not so much
  • Broccoli has 3.6 grams for a cup. Not bad… but that’s a whole lotta the green stuff
  • Almonds have just over 7 grams per 1/4. Translation, you’re going to end up with an upset stomach if this is your only source

Coincidentally, I found this posted on Facebook today for a few more ideas.

vegetarian sources of protein

So, to conclude… the good news: You CAN get enough protein in your diet, but you ARE going to have to think about it and it IS going to take a bit of effort on your part.

And, more importantly, it IS worth the effort.

One of the aspects of taking classes with amazing teachers is the little nuggets they share during class that just manage to hit home.

Sometimes it’s the intention-setting talk at the beginning of class or a poem read to seal the practice. But, other times, and seemingly even more often, it’s something the teacher says off the cuff in the middle of class, not really knowing that one little comment is going to have a profound impact and stick with someone, be shared with others, or serve as a light bulb that sparks additional thoughts and epiphanies for days or even weeks and years to come.

That line for me this week was by Marc Holzman on YogaGlo. It was a class about action. This was the third in a series of classes he did a few years ago about focusing on the three A’s of Anusara. Attitude, Alignment, Action.

I’ll paraphrase (mostly because I can’t remember exactly what he said and I’d hate to totally butcher his powerful message).

Basically, he said…

Thoughts and intentions without action might as well have never existed. 

It’s a theory I’ve thought about many times but have never really expressed quite as eloquently as Marc did, and, admittedly, I have never been very good at putting into practice — which is the bigger problem.

Call it a lack of self importance or some other feeling of intimidation, but for as long as I can  remember, I always had really good intentions and would think about friends or loved ones often, but then I turned into the kid who just wouldn’t go to a birthday party, or play after school, or send a birthday card… always just thinking I wasn’t that important and that it wouldn’t mean much if the gesture in my head never happened.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I realized how those little things DO matter. And they matter just as much whether you’re talking about someone you’ve known for years, or someone you saw in Starbucks or in yoga class.

And, here’s the really important part … those thoughts in your head… I know this may come as a surprise, but people can’t read your mind. Unless you actually open your mouth and utter the words – in other words, TAKE ACTION, they have no idea what you’re thinking! I know! Shock! Right?? You might as well have never had those complimentary thoughts, because they’re living just in your head and not having the positive impact they could be having on someone else.

Think about it in the reverse. Think about the last time someone gave you a compliment that really made you feel good. It could be someone at work,  a friend, a significant other, or someone you just saw while you were out one day who complimented your shoes. Think about how that made you feel. Probably pretty good. It may have even turned your whole day around. Now imagine if that person just kept those thoughts in his or her head. There’s a chance your day might have gone in a totally different direction.

There’s a reason people say pay it forward, and there’s a reason Marc Holzman talked about action. Action matters – and action matters most when it has a positive impact on another human being.

So, I encourage you, next time you think about someone in a positive way, let them know. Give them a compliment. Send them a card. Drop them an email. Let them know they’re on your mind, and, I promise, you will do something positive for their mind.