Monthly Archives: May 2013

Gynostemma…“Power House” of teas

TeaI recently incorporated Gynostemma into my diet and I was amazed by how quickly I was able to feel the benefits. Gynostemma tea also known as Jiaogulan tea is commonly referred to as “magical grass” in Asia. According to Ron Teegaurden, founder of Dragon Herbs, the word magical refers to it’s incredible number of health promoting benefits. Gynostemma is known to be invigorating, calming, anti-aging, anti-oxidizing, anti-inflammatory, immune regulating, improves respiratory efficiency, and is also a digestive aid. With all those incredible properties it can be a powerful addition at any anti-aging regimen. Celebrity make-up artist, Nathan Johnson, says it is the most reliable, and affordable alternative to Botox. No wonder it’s described as the “Power House” of teas!

 

The herb on branch

Gynostemma is also very soothing to the body. Gynostemma has the ability to bring balance to the body’s systems under a wide range of stressors. Japanese studies have found that Gynostemma has a double direction regulation adaptogenic effect on the central nervous system. It’s calming when you’re over excited and invigorating when you’re fatigued. The power of an adaptogen lies in increasing the adaptability of on organism to stressors both physically and psycologically while at the same time keeping homeostasis within the body. By protecting and strengthening Qi, or a person’s physical vitality, Gynostemma also produces a “spirit lifting” effect psycologically. The best part is there are no side effects unlike those found in stimulating caffeinated beverages! The adrenal glands are actually exhausted after caffeine consumption, whereas their functions are not impaired, but supported, after adaptogenic herbs are taken.

 

Tea BoxThe most common way is to consume Gynostemma, like almost any other dietary supplement, is through capsules. You may also find dried gynostemma, gynostemma powder, and gynostemma powder extract to incorporate in your recipes. However, I prefer a tea that I picked up from Dragon Herbs (http://www.dragonherbs.com/) called Spring Dragon Longevity Tea. I brew it first and then I refrigerate a large pitcher so it is readily available to drink throughout the day. Below you will find an energizing drink I love to treat myself to…..

Recipe…courtesy of Cafe Gratitude (my favorite place to eat)

Cacao-ElixirEnergy Drink with Gynostemma

2.5 cups Tea base – Longevity Tea Gynostemma
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
Small handful Goji Berries (soaked in water or almond milk prior)
1/2 Tablespoon Maca Root Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Raw Cacao Powder or Cacao Paste
1/2 Vanilla Bean seeds
Sweetener of choice to taste (Raw Manuka honey or Stevia or dates)
Almonds or Cashews (Soaked for substance if a meal or with water can add for milk like consistency)
1/3 Tablespoon Coconut Oil (Raw Extra Virgin Organic)

Oh hi, Ojai

photoI just returned from my first trip to Ojai and it was delightful. Ojai is only a 1 1/2 hour drive yet it feels a million miles away from LA. The whole town has this permeating free-spirit vibe that makes if feel like a real escape. Upon arrival everything slows down and relaxation begins.

ojai-dec2While the posh head to Montecito and the hipsters drive to Palm Springs, I was looking for something a bit off the beaten path . Ojai is positioned at the base of several vast mountain ranges giving it a very quaint and charming feel. There are several trails to hike, roads to bike, and sunsets to watch. There are moments of more subtle magic too…like driving through the citrus groves….or stumbling upon a roadside fruit stand.

Here are a few things I enjoyed…..

On the east edge of town you’ll find Meditation Mount, a sacred spot on 32 acres of serene land. It is lovely to wander through the gardens and take in the panoramic valley views.

januaryOjai Valley Inn & Spa is where I stayed. I spent most of my time reading and drinking delicious cocktails by the herb garden pool. It was nothing short of heavenly. The spa has everything you need and an amazingly talented and qualified staff. I can’t wait to go back for another treatment!

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If your trip falls on a Sunday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., swing by the Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market, where a live bluegrass band provides background music for a dizzying selection of citrus, baked goods, homemade soaps, local olive oil, and small-batch honey.

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 12.20.44 PMThere are some fabulous restaurants, like mother/daughter owned Suzanne’s. My favorite was a small market of fabulously curated health foods called the Farmer and the Cook. If you love real deal healthy juices and salads this is the place for you. They also make some specialty canned products to take home. I had such a wonderful getaway. I am sure there is much more to see and discover so I am happy to have an excuse to go back!

 

Why Chocolate is good for you….And your skin!

Chocolate-for-glowing-skinHere’s one recommendation that few people will have difficulty following: for beautiful skin, be sure to eat chocolate often. Research says that chocolate increases protection from UV damage. In addition, chocolate dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow and brings nutrients to the surface and deeper layers of the skin.

 

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Antioxidant compounds called flavanols are responsible for the skin-beautifying benefits. Researchers also found that chocolate increases skin hydration, thickness, and smoothness. To provide sufficient flavanols, most experts recommend consuming only very dark chocolate, with at least 70 percent cacao. My favorite is Zenbunni http://www.zenbunni.com/kathmandu.html. Who knew being healthy could taste so good!

 

imagesChocolate comes from the bean of cacao fruit. Cacao beans have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Fresh cacao beans are super-rich in antioxidants — molecules that protect skin from environmental damage — containing 10,000 milligrams of flavanol antioxidants for every 100 grams of cacao. Compared to other foods, they’re among the best sources of antioxidants.

Why is Chocolate anti aging? loaded with antioxidants and free radical scavengers.

Just a few benefits…

  • Raw chocolate has 723% more (or about 7 times more) antioxidants gram-per-gram than typical dark chocolate
  • Tryptophan is found naturally in Raw chocolate, which enhances relaxation and promotes better sleep
  • phenylethylamine (PEA) has a positive effect in enhancing feelings of love, and Raw chocolate has been proven to be an excellent source of PEA.
  • Raw chocolate is the richest food source of magnesium of any common food. Magnesium is the number one mineral that assists and supports healthy heart functioning.
  • Raw chocolate has a high level of Arginine, the aphrodisiac-like amino acid believed by body builders to build muscle and aid in recovery.

Recipe…courtesy of Cafe Gratitude (my favorite place to eat)

images-1RAW CACAO FUDGE (makes 25 squares/35 balls)

1 cup raw cacao butter. (If asking for this at Whole Foods earns you a blank stare, head for the body care aisle and substitute a tub of 100% pure food grade cocoa butter.)
3 vanilla beans. (Individually boxed in the spice section.)
1 cup light agave syrup.
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs, finely ground.
8 1/2 oz raw cacao powder. (Cacao powder tends to be sold in 8 oz packages, so I added more nibs.)
3/4 cup raw almond butter.
1/2 tsp salt.

Melt cacao butter by placing jar in a bowl of warm water. Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise; thoroughly scrape insides and add to blender. Add melted cacao butter to the blender and blend until vanilla is broken down and feels warm. Pour into large mixing bowl; stir in salt, agave, and almond butter by hand. Grind cacao in clean coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle), add to bowl with cacao powder and stir by hand until smooth. (I also added about 1/2 cup dried tart cherries.)

Transfer mixture to an 8×8 pan lined with waxpaper, using a spatula to smooth the top. (The batter was very thick for me, so I shaped it into 1″ balls instead.) Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until hard.

A Tribute to our Artist – Lucas Risé

283523_10150275020493672_4787958_nI have always had an attraction to South American style and art, which is why I so enjoyed working with Argentinean artist, Lucas Risé, on the design of our art work and logo. It is evident from his creations that, as he says, he views the world through colors. Painting signs and murals in Buenos Aires since a very young age, Risé focuses on art that interacts with its surrounding environment. He has designed vibrant textile patterns and has an impressive commercial portfolio, but his true passion lies in dimensional art.

PHOTOS-1During his adolescence he painted street signs, his first incursion in painting. He studied Graphic Design in the Design and Urbanism School of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. His unique style matured during his travels and experiences in South America, Africa, the United State and Europe. Painting street signs and murals in Buenos Aires since the age of 12, Risé focuses on art that interacts, that transforms from different angles to become a universe of its’ own. His dimensional art has been featured in publications and capitals the world. In 2006 he was a finalist in the prestigious National Art Awards (Buenos Aires) for a functional sculpture featuring 20,000 individually painted pieces and belongs to numerous international private collections.

His signature “Sans Parapluie, in French means without an umbrella, was inspired by his 3 year-trip around different countries. You will find it written inside all of his custom cabinets

Click here to view his website and the many publications that have featured his innovative work. Pay special attention to the vibrant color he uses. Thank you for your inspiration, Lucas.