Category Archives: plant based diet

YES EQUALS YES!

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Paloma and I getting ready for the New Year's cleanse orientation at Goldensol yoga studio, Los Feliz.

Paloma and I getting ready for the New Year’s cleanse orientation at Goldensol yoga studio, Los Feliz.

Yesterday I offered a one week cleanse orientation at Goldensol, a new yoga studio in Los Feliz. As my daughter Paloma and I were unloading the car in the parking lot, we were welcomed by a mysterious sign that said YES EQUALS YES. Interesting! I kept thinking about this affirmation as I prepared the table with the food and the equipment I would use to prepare the green veggie juices and smoothie recipes I would demo during the workshop. YES EQUALS YES. What a way to affirm a desire!

During the class, this affirmation kept dancing in my consciousness as I witnessed the ganas, the excitement of the participants, who were looking for natural ways to reverse some health conditions as I shared how easy it is to use food as medicine in a simple and effective way. Their enthusiasm pushed me forward and I knew they were doubly affirming their celebration of life as they discovered effective tools to improve their health in the delicious drinks.

YES EQUALS YES when we are ready to make a major shift in our lives, step into our power and arrive at decisions out of the wisdom of our hearts. YES MEANS YES when we let go of negativity to dive full-on into what we know is going to be supportive of our growth and unfoldment. YES EQUALS YES when we take that leap of faith and embark in enterprises that seem scary and hard at the beginning. YES MEANS YES when we affirm life over fear, insecurities, hesitations, no matter what the challenges are, no matter what others say, no matter if it’s going to work or not.

What are YOU saying YES to today?

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Release, Activate and Transform: A Four Week Intensive Health Group Coaching Program

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What:    A four session intensive group coaching program series to learn how to deal with weight gain, cravings, food allergies, digestive issues and low energy.

Why:     To receive personalized professional attention, support, guidance and acommunity of peers during the process.

When:   Tuesdays February 4, 11, 18, 25, 6:00pm to 7:15pm

 Where: From the convenience of your home, call in and join the interactive teleconference.

During the course of this four session program, you will

  • Set and accomplish health goals
  • Reconnect with your body and feelings
  • Develop a personalized diet according to your body type that sustains and pleases you
  • Explore new foods
  • Identify and by-pass emotional areas that trigger emotional eating.
  • Find mastery over food cravings through healthy alternatives and mindful eating
  • Increase energy and vitality
  • Feel better in your body, mind and spirit
  • Improve personal relationships with yourself, others and nature
  • Receive the support of an experienced professional and a community of peers

Bonus:  preliminary individual health phone consultation, a closed Facebook group for daily check-ins, recordings of the sessions, hand-outs, individual recommendations, support from a buddy system.

Cost for the 4 sessions:                                         250$    

Payment by February 2:                                       225$

PayPal payment at: http://www.vivamivida.com

For more info: sirena@vivamivida.com

Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D. believes in autonomous and vibrantly healthy individuals and communities. As a holistic healer, she models for her clients how to courageously step center-stage in their lives by unleashing their unique personal power, creative self-expression and overall wellbeing. Her bilingual programs inspire individuals to reconnect with their bodies, minds and spirits by going back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle: a personalized nutrient-rich diet, energizing physical movement and a meaningful spiritual practice. The seasonal community cleanses and raw food preparation classes that she has been hosting for several years offer a Do It Yourself hands-on approach to healing through nutrient-dense, plant-based choices. Sirena specializes in weight management for women in their menopause years. She is currently working on a manuscript that captures this experience titled “Detoxing Our Communities: Using Food As Medicine for a Quantum Grassroots Transformation.”

www.vivamivida.com

http://livefoods4life.com/

https://soundcloud.com/sirena-pellarolo

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A Hearty Quinoa and Vegetable Dish For the Cooler Season

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I know that quinoa–that incredible protein-rich/ gluten-free ancient seed from the Andes–, has become so popular among health observing eaters around the world, that it has increased its status in the global market as a priced commodity. So much so, that the ancestral consumers of the seed have a hard time affording to pay for it in their own country. I am aware of this, and hope that the cultivation of quinoa will become as widespread as its consumption, so that the original peoples from the Andean Altiplano are able to go back to their ancestral diet in a sustainable way. In fact, when I visited the Learning Garden in Venice Beach, CA some weeks ago, I was very happy to see that David King,  its Master Gardener, had some seeds of quinoa that he was planning to plant in the land. Hopefully, they will yield enough food to sustain the garden community.

For now, and aware of this controversy, I would like to share with you the delicious quinoa and veggie recipe I use for these cold nights.

quinoa plate

Ingredients

2 cups of white quinoa (could be other colors) soaked for at least 6 hours

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 cup of diced white mushrooms

1 red bell pepper

1 cup diced eggplant (in season)

½ cup chopped cilantro

Dulse flakes

Two tablespoons of miso paste

Braggs aminoacids

A dash of turmeric

1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast

Instructions

As any other seed, grain, bean or nut, I soak quinoa before I cook it. Soaking it in water helps unleash its life force as it neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors that are hard on our digestion. It makes it easier and quicker to cook.

Put the oil in a wok and stir fry the onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplant. Add water if you need to make some juice and cover until the veggies are almost cooked. Pour the soaked quinoa and mix in with the veggies. Add the dulse flakes, the miso paste and the chopped cilantro, the turmeric, nutritional yeast and sprinkle it with Braggs. You will notice that the soaked quinoa cooks very quickly and, as soon as the water is consumed, turn off the stove and cover the wok. Enjoy with some vegan parmesan. Yummie!

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Deliciously simple vegetable soup recipe/ Simple y deliciosa sopa de vegetales

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Instructions in Spanish below

Simple veggie soup

This simple recipe is based on seasonal plant-based ingredients. The soup is delicious and it satisfies us during the Fall days. As it is made with simple ingredients that do not include fats or processed foods, it is very easy to digest, and perfect for a light supper on a cold day.

-DSC_1018sm1 big white or yellow onion
1 garlic clove
5 fine slices of ginger
1 diced jalapeño
2 carrots
2 diced yams
half a squash
a bunch of parsely
a bunch of spinach
3 celery sticks
1 sliced red bell pepper
a handful of dulse or nori flakes
a big spoonful of miso paste
a teaspoon of cumin
cayenne pepper
turmeric
filtered water

 

Instructions

Fill up a big pot with filtered water and bring it to a boil, as you add the hard root vegetables, that take longer to cook: yams, squash, ginger, carrots. Continue to add the rest of the veggies and the seaweed for seasoning, that give a delicious salty flavor to soups with the added benefit of the sea minerals. Cover until it boils. Add now the miso paste and the spices. Cook for 5 minutes and keep covered. Enjoy!

 

Sopa de vegetales

Esta simple receta está basada en ingredientes de la temporada, privilegiando el origen vegetal. La sopa es deliciosa, y nos satisface durante los primeros fríos del otoño. Ayudan a la digestión, porque los ingredients son simples y no incluye grasas o productos procesados. Nos da energía y felicidad.

Ingredientes

-DSC_1033sm1 cebolla blanca o amarilla grande
1 diente de ajo
5 rodajas finas de jengibre
1 jalapeño picado
2 zanahorias cortadas en rodajas
2 camotes cortados en cuadraditos
Media calabaza cortada en cuadritos
1 atado de perejil
1 atado de espinaca
3 apios
1 chile dulce rojo cortado en rodajas1 puñado de copos de dulse or nori (o sal de mar a gusto)
1 cucharada de miso
1 cucharadita de comino
Pimienta de cayena a gusto
Agua filtrada

 

Preparación:
Llenar una olla grande con agua filtrada y poner a hervir en la estufa. Agregar los vegetales duros, que llevan más tiempo de cocción: los camotes, la calabaza, el jengibre, las zanahorias. Continuar agregando el resto de los vegetales. Agregar el dulce o el nori (o la sal de mar) y cubrir con una tapa hasta que hierva. Cuando hierve, agregar el miso y las especies. Dejar cocinar por unos 5 minutos más y dejar tapado.

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My interview for the San Diego Veg Festival

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At wonderful veg cafe Casa de Luz, with organizers extraordinaires Linda Le and Elza Angulo

At wonderful veg cafe Casa de Luz, with organizers extraordinaires Linda Le and Elza Angulo

Last weekend I was invited to be a guest demo speaker for the second annual San Diego Veg Festival. I was asked to share my experience as a raw food educator and holistic healer, and it was a great opportunity to meet people ready to recover their health by choosing healthier food options. Here’s the interview:

  1. 1.      What do you enjoy most about your career in the veg community?

I enjoy the fact that it’s growing so fast. More and more people are getting into a plant-based diet and becoming much more aware of the issues related to the eating of animal products. In my own area of raw food, I see people experimenting with green juices and smoothies daily, and seeing the incredibly positive effects that these have in their health. I feel there is a change in consciousness in many areas, and food is one of them. People realize that to change the world, we need to change individually—as members of a larger community—and one of the ways is by paying attention to how we fuel our bodies, that is in accordance with a sustainable way of preserving our planet. Moreover, as a food justice activist, I believe in autonomous and vibrantly healthy individuals and communities, and that our bodies are the ultimate site of self-determination. So, in order to become really autonomous, the first thing we need to do is decolonize our bodies from commercial, processed food and other substances that keep us lethargic and lacking in energy.

  1. 2.      What is one thing you wish someone had told you before becoming a vegan/vegetarian?

Fortunately, I started exploring a raw food diet and cleansing in January 2002, when I participated in a program called The 21 Day Detox, led in Los Angeles by two amazing individuals, both naturopaths, Richard D’Andrea, M.D., and John Woods. I learnt so much from them, that I think they prepared me very well to go on my own journey safely. That’s why I have taken it to heart to teach other people how to develop personalized cleanses that are effective and safe. I felt the duty to share my experience with the Chicano/a Latino/a communities with whom I interact daily, as there is a lot of chronic disease and obesity in these communities due to a less than optimal diet resulting from the lack of good fresh produce in the “food deserts” where many of these people reside.

  1. 3.      What caused you to want to become veg friendly?

I was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the ingestion of meat is overwhelming. When I arrived in this country in 1988 to pursue a doctoral program, luckily, I started eating much less meat because I felt it didn’t taste as good as back home. I also come from a history of emotional eating, so the idea of exploring a raw food diet and periodic detoxing was very appealing to me. It happened right at a time in my life when my spiritual practices were becoming much deeper, and it was natural for me to change my diet to support that process.

  1. 4.      Tell us more about your business? How can we get connected?

After years of hosting seasonal community cleanses and raw food preparation classes, I decided to retire from my position as a college professor and work full-time in the area of health. I became certified as a holistic health coach and have been growing my practice since late 2011. I am using everything I learnt in my own journey to support post-menopausal women to recover their power over their bodies, and debunk disempowering beliefs about aging. As a holistic healer, I model for my clients how to courageously step center-stage in their lives by unleashing their unique personal power, creative self-expression and overall wellbeing. I offer bilingual programs that inspire individuals to reconnect with their bodies, minds and spirits by going back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle: a personalized nutrient-rich diet, energizing physical movement and a meaningful spiritual practice. I specialize in weight management for women in their prime through life-changing programs that include DIY detoxifications, live foods and powerful transformational techniques. I also offer wellness seminars in English and Spanish.

I have a blog that focuses on live foods and detoxifications, http://livefoods4life.com/, and my holistic healing website is www.vivamivida.com.

  1. 5.      What other activities are you involved with in San Diego?

Every six months I spend a week doing a deep detox at the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, an amazing institution that firmly believes in the power of food as medicine. They follow Anne Wigmore’s principles of using the healing power of live food (sprouting, fermenting, juicing, lots of wheatgrass) to restore health. Every Friday morning, guests have the opportunity to share to the community their testimonials about healing with the power of plants. I have seen time and again hundreds of cases of individuals with “incurable diseases”–as defined by the traditional medical industrial complex–, make a 100% recovery and regain their health and vitality by sticking to this type of diet. Everything that I’ve learnt at OHI I share with the participants of my workshops and cleanses. I am looking forward to continue to collaborate with the San Diego Veg community in spreading this information to the public.

  1. 6.      What tips do you have for those wanting to stay on a veg-friendly path?

I would invite individuals to consider practicing a plant-based diet. I have seen many vegetarians and vegans who eat a lot of processed food, fake meats, etc. I think that the power of being on a veg-friendly path is to get acquainted with the amazing power of plants. That’s the natural fuel that our bodies need. And, if some “slips” happen, to just recommit and continue on the path. There are so many different varieties, flavors, textures, ways of preparing plants, that there is no way that we would feel deprived (not even in the intake of protein!). Also, I would suggest that individuals explore and pay close attention to their ancestral diet. According to the principle of “bio-individuality,” the great diversity of body types demand different types of diets.  Usually, whatever our ancestors ate, our bodies do well with. We can always modify those traditional dishes with choices that are more congruent with the diet that we choose now.

  1. 7.      What are your favorite veg dishes?

I like very simple flavors, and I eat mostly what I prepare at home. I love greens, and I prepare them in juices and smoothies, salads and wraps. I always tell the participants of my food preparation workshops that I am not that interested in gourmet raw food, that my diet mostly responds to the requirements of a “colon boot camp.” I’m interested mainly in food that makes me feel vibrant and healthy and that keeps my body clean. That’s why I am very much into fermentation and sprouting. I always sprout my beans, grains and nuts, and if I happen to prepare a cooked quinoa dish (my favorite grain/seed), I will sprout it for a couple of days first, so that the life force and enzymatic power gets unleashed and becomes more digestible and nutritious.

8. What advice do you have for those that are interested or curious about being a vegetarian/vegan?

I usually suggest to my clients to start slowly, adding veggies and fruits into their diet. The best way to do that is with green juices and smoothies. I have seen time and again that as people start to add these delicious and nutrient rich drinks into their diet, their taste buds get used to the natural flavors, they start to crave veggies and fruits due to the fact that they feel much better eating clean, and slowly, their diet starts transforming completely. This is a wonderful way to jump start a journey towards a plant-based diet. Enjoy the process, and don’t become too dogmatic, just find pleasure in your new choices!

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Please stay hydrated!

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Front image_drinking-waterIt’s been HOT! The end of the summer in Los Angeles usually tends to gift us with the high temperatures we missed earlier in the season. I hear people can’t sleep, are irritable, and can’t even do mental work in this heat. This extreme weather takes a toll on our bodies, and we need to be aware of that. The most important thing is to stay cool and hydrated.

I have already talked about the importance of keeping our bodies hydrated in a recent post “Our bodies’ many cries for water.” . In it I mentioned how F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. considers that water is the cure to many of our ailments caused by modern life, as most of us are chronically dehydrated.

Personally, when it’s so hot I scale down my Bikram Yoga practice and swim every day. There is something very cooling and refreshing about soaking in water and splashing in that fluid, all-embracing motherly element. But even then, it’s important to rehydrate after swimming, as the chemicals used to keep the water clean, the sun and the sweating (yes, we sweat when we swim!), dehydrate us. I replenish the lost electrolytes with coconut water. It’s also good to add electrolytes to our drinking water, if we exercise and sweat a lot.

In addition to drinking lots of filtered water, raw fruits and veggies are very hydrating foods. During this warm weather we usually feel less hungry, so go ahead and substitute some meals with delicious veggie juices and smoothies. You can find some easy recipes here and here.

If your diet is composed mainly of processed and mostly cooked foods, you will need more water to hydrate. Also keep in mind that coffee, teas, alcohol, sugary sodas, cigarettes and other irritants are dehydrating and you’ll need to drink more water to counter their effect.

These simple tips will help you stay healthy and at your best even during this torrid season. So, enjoy the end of the summer and stay cool!

 

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Are you “inflamed”?

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Clean-CoveI know that this question might elicit different responses at this moment. Today we could feel “inflamed” due to another example of how the justice system in this country has shown one more time that we are really not all equal under the law. And I would say that is a very justified way of feeling, and at some point, I promise I’ll write a post about this.

But what I really mean when I ask this question is if you have stopped to think whether your body has created an inflamed environment that is prone to disease, which eventually could become chronic. Some of my clients complain about digestive issues, for example, and this condition is a result of inflammation.

I am reading an excellent book that explains the relation of inflammation and the need for detoxification, Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself. Author and fellow rioplatense Alejandro Junger, M.D. explains this condition

…inflammation is a survival mechanism of great complexity. [It] occurs when a set of chemicals in the blood are activated by something foreign or broken. These chemicals attract defense cells that protect tissues against whatever is injuring them, from a thorn to a disease-causing microbe. The repair system is also activated by calling in different cells to fix the damage. Normally, inflammation is self-regulated, which means that as soon as it is triggered, it will start reactions that will stop further inflammation. However, if the body is constantly exposed to irritants, the inflammation response is switched on all the time—not just at small specific sites, but systemically all over the body and throughout the blood. This is what happens when exposure to toxins is high: modern humans are chronically inflamed. Inflammation (from the Latin word inflatio, “to set on fire”) becomes to the body’s environment what wildfires are to the planet’s” (92).

Only now modern medicine has recognized that inflammation is the common condition underlying chronic ailments like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. So, how can we prevent inflammation? We need to consider that, in addition to environmental toxins and stress, the ingestion of certain foods promote inflammation. For example:

  • Packaged and processed foods and drinks that contain additives, preservatives and other chemicals
  • Acid producing foods: red meat, refined grains (mostly gluten)
  • Dairy
  • Sugars
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Trans-fats: hydrogenated oils
  • Foods that can cause irritation and allergies:
  • nightshade family: tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, potatoes
  • Strawberries, chocolate, shellfish
  • Peanuts

If we reduce the intake of these foods, and add anti-inflammatory nutrients to our diet, like Omega 3 fatty acids (hemp, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, algae, fish and krill oil), curcumin (turmeric), plants that contain polyphenols, like all types of berries, raw plants that cool down our system and dark leafy greens that support liver detoxification (my favorite are dandelions), we limit our stressors and we cleanse our system regularly, we will keep inflammation in check. Dr Junger asserts that the root of inflammation is the “the toxicity of modern life, and our bodies’ weakness in dealing with it. Only when we start a treatment there, targeting the seed of the problem, can we truly begin to ward off disease” (11).

This is why I am so insistent on periodic detoxifications of our bodies. It’s not that I’m a broken record, it’s that periodic cleanses are the most effective and empowering practices to keep our bodies clean and healthy.

If reading this post has convinced you that it’s time for a tune-up, please check my upcoming DIY Mid-Summer Community Cleanse and Raw Food Preparation Class starting July 27. Your body and the planet will thank you for it.

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Our body’s many cries for water

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imagesAs we move through these interesting times, mostly in the recent weeks, with a cosmic alignment of three eclipses in a row, ending with a powerful full moon eclipse on May 24-25, our energies shift, we feel tired, overwhelmed, stressed out, sad, etc. Some of the authors writing about how to deal with these emotions suggest we go back to the element of water as medicine. I can relate to that as a Sirena!

Lena Stevens suggests that we “take care of the body in some way as the body struggles with new energies it does not understand. You may be experiencing aches and pains you never had before. Work with water, drink lots of it, immerse yourself in it and make sure you are getting enough minerals.” And Pat Liles mentions that in this alignment there is “such effortless, easeful energy available, especially from the water signs–our emotional, receptive, fluid nature where we just tap in and intuitively understand what is going on from our deep knowingness. This water energy is part of our learning as well at this time – how to be fluid, receive, use our feminine powers of cooperation…”

So, in this time of deep transformation and renewal, the astrological experts invite us to go back to the most simple and essential of elements. Why?

From a scientific point of view, F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. in his famous book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water assures us “you are not sick, you’re thirsty,” and recommends to use water as a cure for an infinite array of diseases: from rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain, headaches, depression and stress, to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

I always remind my clients to drink their good, fresh, clean water constantly. How much? The rule of thumb is 2-3 ½ quarts of high quality water per day, or half our weight in ounces. Drink more if you sweat a lot, like I do when I practice Bikram yoga. If we eat raw veggies and fruits, those will hydrate us and we won’t need that much water. Remember, though, that if you are eating a lot of dehydrated food, you will need more water to rehydrate it.

When should we drink it? At least one hour before and one hour after the meals, so that the water doesn’t dilute the acids necessary for digestion.

I have a reverse osmosis filter in my kitchen that I use to refill a metal bottle, so to avoid the waste of plastic bottles that also leach carcinogens. Spring water is the best!

Warm baths with Epsom Salts are great too, they relax our muscles when we exercise, help us calm down after a stressful day and provide the soothing environment to dream and simply chill.

We’ll be talking about this and many other seasonal tips in my next phone group coaching program Are you ready to benefit from the healing power of the summer season?

I have to go now. My mermaid’s tail is getting dry, it needs to dip into the oceanic womb of Iemanja.

Helpful tips to practice mindful eating and promote weight loss

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One of the first recommendations I give my clients who want to lose weight and adopt a healthier diet is to be mindful during their meals. To just sit in front of their meal, give thanks for it, bless it and savor each bite in mindfulness: chewing thoroughly, paying attention to the flavor and the texture of their food. No multitasking, no TV, no phone, no computer. Just eat. A simple act, that when done mindfully, recovers its original sacred nature. When we eat mindfully we eat less and our digestion improves.

I have been enjoying reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Thich Nhat Hanh, in collaboration with Dr. Lilian Cheung: Savor, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. In their book they recommend these simple tips to practice mindful eating:

  1. Breathe before eatingsavor
  2. Honor the food
  3. Engage all six senses
  4. Serve in modest portions
  5. Savor small bites and chew thoroughly
  6. Eat slowly to avoid overeating
  7. Don’t skip meals
  8. Eat a plant-based diet, for your health and for the planet

I would add: enjoy the process! Bon appétit.

 

 

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