A poem for the New Year. Surrender.

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“A Necessary Autumn Inside Each”

You and I have spoken all these words, but as for the way
we have to go, words are no preparation.  
There is no getting ready, other than grace. 
My faults have stayed hidden.  One might call that a preparation!
I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.  Let it dissolve in your ocean.
There are so many threats to it. Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn.  
Our leaves fall and are blown out over the water. 
A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks about what’s gone.  
Then your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence, 
the scent of hyacinth and rose and cypress.  
Joseph is back!  And if you don’t feel in yourself the freshness of Joseph, be Jacob!  
Weep and then smile.  Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t experienced.
There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.
Very little grows on jagged rock.  Be ground.  
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.  
You’ve been stony for too many years.  
Try something different.  
Surrender.

(Rumi, Mathnawi I: 1878-1912)

Veterans helping Veterans find solid ground and acceptance: Mindful Warrior Retreats recap

On Saturdays January 6th and 13th, Emanuel (“Manny”) Salazar and I led our second and third Mindful Warrior Retreats for over 25 Veterans. The experience was incredible; the open-mindedness, whole heartedness, and dedication of the Vets was astounding; and the ripple effects of this program? Unknown.

On both days, Veterans came in unsure of what they had gotten themselves into. We began with breakfast, conversation, and a whole lot of laughs. Turns out a lot of Veterans have quite the trucker mouth! I was smiling from ear to ear almost the entire time.

After breakfast, I led a Nutrition Lecture. In both cases, it was supposed to last an hour but stretch for nearly 2 1/2! There we so many good questions, SO much misinformation to clear up, and such a hunger (pun intended) for healthy change. Ama girl, if you’re reading this, you were such an inspiration to me with all of your vulnerability and readiness girl. I need you to know that!

Following the lecture and lunch, we got down to the real business. Informed by Suzanne Manafort’s empirically-proven Mindful Yoga Therapy Program, I led participants in a trauma-informed yoga class featuring meditation, pranayama, movement, and relaxation. As you can see, by the end these Vets were all in on the savasana!

Toward the end of the day, Manny led everyone in the most insanely calming Yoga Nidra I have ever taken. I was deep into my semi-conscious state, straight chilling, in 90 seconds flat. Many of our Vets were snoring – getting some much needed sleep given that insomnia is a very common side effect of PTSD.

After Nidra, it was time for our Peace Circle and ritual closing ceremony. The stories our Veterans shared, the wounds they offered up to be let go…well it broke your heart and made it soar all at the same time. Everyone seemed palpably lighter as they got up to go.

Every day more than 22 veterans take their own lives in large part because they are not receiving the support they need to heal the scars from their service to our country. Take that in for a moment. Twenty-two human beings – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, community leaders, and more. The Mindful Warrior Retreat Program was founded, by veterans for veterans, in order to fill this support void through trauma-informed retreats. Utilizing a variety of holistic wellness modalities, the MWR program aims to bring hope and health back to thousands of veterans, their caregivers, and Gold Star Families with regular retreats that address mind, body, and spirit. We’ve got a strong start. Now we just need to keep going.

 

To learn more about what you can do to participate and/or help please email me at amy@movewelldc.com.

Spicy Cucumber-Kohlrabi Gazpacho (gluten-free and vegan)

Cucumber-Kohlrabi Gazpacho

You know those times when you think you’re eating something really healthy and then you realize there’s all kinds of hidden food bombs lurking within? Gazpacho might just be one of those great deceivers. It is for me!

Every time I eat a light, delicious gazpacho I forget that most of the time they contain stale bread as a thickening agent. The horror! Now, I’m not gluten-free – in fact I make my own sourdough bread every other week and eat the darn stuff daily – but I don’t like feeling duped by my soup.

In light of this sense of gastronomic justice, I experimented with using Kohlrabi – German for “cabbage turnip” – as a thickening agent…and it worked!

Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable but in fact a member of the brassica family – along with brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. It grows above ground and is loaded with minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin K. It’s flavor  is – in my opinion – unremarkable. So, dress it up in cucumber and spice and let’s call it a day!

Move Well DC - Cucumber Kohlrabi Gazpacho

Spicy Cucumber Kohlrabi Gazpacho

{Makes 4 servings.}

Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb of kohlrabi
  • 2 large organic cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1 Tbs champagne vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes (plus the zest of 1)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds (for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup basil (for garnish)

 

Directions:

  1. PREP: Trim, peel and roughly chop the kohlrabi and cucumbers. Set aside a half a cup of the cucumbers and chop that portion into small cubes. Seed and halve the serrano. Set aside one half and slice thinly for garnish later. Peel the garlic. Cut the basil into small ribbons and set aside for garnish later.
  2. ASSEMBLE: Place all ingredients except the slivered almonds and cucumber, serrano and basil you have set asside for garnish in a high-speed blender. Purée until smooth (note: if you have an older blender you may need to strain the gazpacho with a skimmer or mesh bag to eliminate inconsistencies in texture).
  3. SET: Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least an hour (or up to overnight!) before serve to allow the flavors to meld (note: it will get spicier with time).
  4. SERVE: Place 2 Tbs of cubed cucumber in each bowl and ladle gazpacho on top. Garnish with 2 Tbs of basil ribbons, 2 Tbs of slivered almonds and serrano slices to taste. Drizzle a little extra olive oil and dust with freshly ground black pepper for even more taste impact.

 

BIG Announcement: Coming Fall of 2017 to Takoma….Yoga Heights #2!

Yoga Heights Hero
As Co-Owner of Yoga Heights, I just had to share!! We are so excited for this next big step and can’t wait to bring our community-oriented yoga and fitness classes to a new neighborhood in the District. Stay tuned for photos of the build-out and details on our grand opening slated for this fall.

Yoga Heights Takom

April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yoga Heights, a yoga studio at 3506 Georgia Ave. NW., announced today that they are opening their second location this fall in the Takoma Central Apartment building at 235 Carroll Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.  Yoga Heights is a community oriented studio that offers classes for every body, at every level and every budget.

 

“The love and support of the Yoga Heights community has been overwhelming for the past three years,” said Jess Pierno, owner. “Our students’ enthusiasm for the studio, our teachers, events and community, has made Yoga Heights an incredibly special yoga studio. It was never in the plans to open additional locations, but due to repeated requests to offer more classes, community events and YHDC good vibes, we were inspired to expand our studio!”

 

Yoga Heights will continue to offer all levels vinyasa and power yoga, beginners classes, Rocket yoga, restorative and Yin yoga, prenatal yoga, bootcamps, Pilates, yoga teacher training and community events at both locations.  

 

Yoga Heights Takoma is just steps from the Takoma metro station on the red line and is on bus lines 52, 53, 54, 62, 63, F1, F2 and K2.

Yoga Heights Half Moon

To ensure that their classes work with all budgets, Yoga Heights offers half price “happy hour” classes five days per week, work-study in trade for classes, as well as “Karma Passes” which allows students to pay just $8 per class up to four times per month.Through these programs, Yoga Heights has helped more than 4,000 people afford yoga classes in the three years they have been open.  

 

“We look forward to continuing to be an affordable and community oriented yoga studio for people who are brand new to yoga, as well as regularly practicing yogis,” Pierno continued.

 

More information on class offerings, pricing and events is available at www.YogaHeightsDC.com.

 

Studio owners Jess Pierno and Amy Rizzotto, and their talented team of instructors remain steadfastly committed to working with Yoga Heights’ students to ensure that health and wellness are accessible to all.

 

Yoga Heights is currently offering pre-opening sales on unlimited memberships through its website at www.YogaHeightsDC.com. Visit www.YogaHeightsDC.com to sign up and save today!

 

For questions or comments please contact:
Amy Rizzotto, Yoga Heights
write: Amy@YogaHeightsDC.com

 

Guest Post: 7 Delicious Green Smoothies to Help Lower High Blood Pressure

Kate B. Forsyth of Be Healthy Today writes…

 

In this day and age, having high blood pressure is a common thing. A lot if things can lead to this, like the food you eat, the environment, stress, alcohol abuse, etc. Luckily, there are plenty of ways that can help you with this predicament. Drinking specific healthy green smoothies is one way to combat high blood pressure.

 

There are plenty of smoothie recipes out there that specifically target the lowering of blood pressure. Most of the ingredients used in these smoothies are fruits and vegetables, and just about every kind of each has a positive effect in lowering high blood pressure.

 

It’s best if you look for recipes that contain ingredients with high potassium content. What potassium does is it lessens the effects of sodium. That means the more food rich in potassium you eat, the more unhealthy sodium you eliminate through urination. Potassium also helps ease the tension in the blood vessel walls. This further helps lower high blood pressure.

 

For the average adult, the recommended potassium intake per day is 4,700 mg. Some examples of fruits and vegetables rich in potassium are apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, bananas, papaya, strawberries, kiwi, carrots, chard, beet greens, lima beans, spinach, and of course, kale.

 

Along with potassium, there are other elements that naturally lower blood pressure. Some examples are vitamin D, magnesium, anthocyanins, omega-3 fatty acids, melatonin, and acetyl-L-carnitine.

 

To get you started on your journey to a regulated blood pressure, here are some examples of easy-to-make green smoothies great for lowering high blood pressure. And bonus: they taste amazing too!

 

The Blood Pressure Regulator

The banana and spinach used in this helpful smoothie take center stage in beating away high blood pressure.

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ice cubes

 

Directions:

Put the pomegranate juice in the blender first. Next, add in the banana and apple. Blend until somewhat smooth. Add the spinach last. Continue blending. Put in ice cubes gradually until desired thickness is achieved.

 

Tomato-Cucumber-Carrot Smoothie

The antioxidant properties as well as the cleansing capabilities of this yummy smoothie promote the elimination of the accumulated toxins from the body. The parsley is a big help in getting rid of the excess sodium and retained fluids in the body that can affect your blood pressure.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • a handful of parsley, minced
  • ½ cup water
  • ice cubes

 

Directions:

Place all the ingredients (except the ice cubes) in a high-power blender. Mix until fully incorporated. Add the ice cubes for desired consistency.

Green Heart-Healthy Smoothie

Practically all the ingredients used for this drink help in lowering high blood pressure. You definitely won’t go wrong with this smoothie.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • ¼ cup raw beets, chopped
  • 1 cup greens of choice (kale or spinach are best)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
  • ½ cup frozen berries
  • honey to taste

 

Directions:

Put in the milk and beets. It’s best to blend the beets first as it requires more blending time. Once beet root and milk mixture is somewhat smooth, add the rest of the ingredients except for the honey. If it lacks some sweetness, that’s when you can put in the honey, but gradually.

Avocado-Kiwi-Melon Madness

Now this is a smoothie that’s super potassium packed. It contains close to a whopping 1,000 mg of potassium per serving. Now that’s one powerful blend.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1 cup honeydew melon, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ice cubes

 

Directions:

Blend together the avocado, kiwi, and melon slices. Wait until smooth. Add in the spinach last. Continue blending. Taste the drink to see if sweetness is needed. If so, slowly add in the honey. Put in the ice cubes and continue blending until desired consistency is reached.  

 

Green Smoothie for High Blood Pressure

Here’s another smoothie recipe whose ingredients greatly help in lowering blood pressure naturally.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 green apples, chopped
  • 8-10 ribs of celery, chopped
  • a handful of spinach
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • ice cubes

 

Directions:

Put in the apples, celery, cilantro, and juice from the lime in a high-speed blender. Mix until fully incorporated. Add the spinach. Resume blending. For the desired thickness, gradually add in the ice cubes.

 

Pineapple-Grapefruit-Spinach Smoothie

Pineapple and grapefruit are some of the most effective natural diuretics that combat fluid retention, lower high blood pressure, and also cleanse the kidneys. Due to their high water content and low calorie count, both are also ideal in any type of diet.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 slices pineapple
  • 1 handful spinach leaves
  • ice cubes

 

Directions:

Blend the grapefruit juice and pineapple slices in a high-powered blender. As with other recipes using spinach, add in the spinach last. Resume blending until the mixture is lump-free. Add in the ice one by one for desired consistency.

 

Spinach and Carrot Smoothie

Not only will this smoothie positively impact blood pressure, it will also provide your body with that extra kick to increase your physical performance.

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 carrots, sliced
  • a handful of spinach
  • a handful of parsley
  • 2 celery stalks
  • ice cubes

 

Directions:

Put in the carrot slices, parsley, and celery stalks first and blend until lump-free. Add in a little water for moisture, then the spinach. Continue blending until smooth. You can slowly add the ice for a little thickness.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

 

Sources:

10 Surprising Banana Health Benefits

http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/green-smoothies/5-green-smoothies-to-lower-high-blood-pressure/

https://steptohealth.com/top-4-green-smoothies-treat-high-blood-pressure/

https://www.healthysmoothiehq.com/lower-high-blood-pressure-with-smoothies

http://juicing-for-health.com/lowering-blood-pressure-naturally

http://www.suesnutritionbuzz.com/2012/07/18/potassium-packed-smoothies-to-lower-your-blood-pressure/

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

Looking for the perfect app to bring next time you’re invited to someone’s house? This spiced goat cheese stuffed date recipe is super easy, sweet, savory, spicy and surprising! People will be asking you what spices are in it (probably because of the cardamom) and for the recipe – promise 😉

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

I recently brought a platter of these to my friend Caroline’s for a Sunday night supper and they were the perfect amuse-bouche while her phenomenal rosemary chicken was roasting in the oven. They’re somewhere between an appetizer and dessert – I say they work well either way. Give then a try next time you need a meat-free app option or want a lighter dessert.

 

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

(Serves 4, appetizer style)

Ingredients:

  • 12 Medjool dates
  • 4 oz goat cheese, plain
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tsp honey

 

Directions:

  1. Put goat cheese in a small bowl, setting on the counter to bring to room temperature (or microwave for 20 seconds).
  2. Stir in honey and spices until well blended.
  3. Halve and pit dates.
  4. Place a heaping teaspoon of the goat cheese mixture in each date.