Tag Archives: Nutrition

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

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If you grew up in the 90s chances are you or a friend of yours had a chia pet – you know,  those terracotta figurines that grew sprouts on their bodies (with your special tending) to represent “hair/fur.”

Check out the commercial below if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about or if you just want to hear the ch-ch-ch-chia song (because you are feeling nostalgic or weird or both).

Well this post isn’t really so much about chia pets, but I wanted to give the proper shout out to when I was first introduced to chia back when I was a kid. Chia pets were apparently a big deal to me as I recall receiving many as gifts, even one when I went away to college – my friend Beth gave me one in the shape of a professor’s head. The natural choice for a going away present, right? Love it.

Chia professor

Fast forward 10 years later, and my relationship to chia seeds has changed a lot. Nowadays, I use chia seeds as a health supplement. I put them in my baked goods, smoothies, and lately I’ve been enjoying Chia Fresca, a lemony drink. I like it as a quick way to get the benefits of chia in my diet and to also get a boost of energy. It’s a win-win and a nice change-up from wintry foods and drinks.

My standard recipe includes:

  •  2 cups of lemon/fruit/veggie water (regular mason jar with a cap so you can shake it up)
  • juice of a whole lime/lemon/grapefruit
  • 1.5 TBSPs of chia seeds (to soak in water for at least 10 minutes)
  • 5 drops of Sweet Leaf (liquid stevia)’s Sweet Drops Sweetener in the Lemon Drop flavor
chiafresca-ohsheglows

Photo credit courtesy of ohsheglows.com

Fun facts about chia:

  • Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they love water/liquids and can absorb up to 12 times their body weight in water.
  • Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.
  • They come from the plant Salvia hispanica from Central and South America.
  • Aztecs used it for joint pain and sore skin.
  • At one point Mayans used it as a currency.
  • Can be used as an egg substitute: Add 2 TBSP water to 1 TBSP chia seeds to form a gel.
  • They are gluten and grain-free!

Health benefits:

  • Chia seeds are 30% fat and have more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant food, including flax seeds.
  • They are made of about 20% protein – that is more protein dense than tofu, whey protein, or eggs.
  • They are also high in fiber and calcium – 100 grams of chia seeds provide over 60% of your daily calcium requirement.
  • They are high in antioxidants.

Brand of chia I use: My favorite brand of chia seeds are Spectrum Chia Seeds, although to be quite frank, those are the only kind of chia seeds I have tried. So you chia veterans out there speak up and share your favorites! Some people do not believe that all chia seeds are made the same, so be sure you talk to someone you trust about the quality of the seeds you buy. Make it work for you. 

How to use chia:

Chia can be put into almost anything so be creative and try some of your favorite recipes with the seeds. For best results, use them in gel or liquid form as they are more easily absorbed in the body that way. However, you can still use them as dry ingredients (like granola bars) and still reap benefits.

WARNING: To be technical, the chia seeds used in the chia pet are not the same as the chia seeds alternative health people RAVE about. They are in the same plant family but that’s it. I repeat, do not go into your closet, dig up your unopened chia pet and try to eat the seeds 😉 If you want to check them out, go to a health foods store or coop or maybe even your local grocer. Call ahead to see if they have any in stock. I guarantee you will be much happier with your results 🙂

Coming Home to Myself

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Fall is in full-swing and it feels like winter is just around the corner! Every year I get excited for this slow-down period. As the natural environment edges toward a scene of sparseness and simplicity, so does the calendar of events. However, I cannot say the same for what may be stirring within our household.

This autumn, my husband and I took on a 25 day whole foods detox led by a fellow holistic health studies classmate of mine, Katie Jasper. More on that to come. We are only 7 days in, but so far, the results have been wonderful. As we are home cooking and eating in community, we both feel more energized, clear-headed, and grounded. With this new excitement and clarity, we feel like we started trekking down a path together that is so important and truly rejuvenating. What really is happening is we are simply making the commitment to live a healthier, holistic life. While I can go on and on making it sound all flowery and unicorn-like, I would rather point out that plenty of the purgative experience is dealing with the “mess in the basement” that is not related to the foods we are eating.

The “mess in the basement” is the not-so-pleasant or hip or happy parts of what makes me…me. It’s the parts of myself that I know can be destructive if not handled appropriately or acknowledged. From a big picture standpoint, it’s the greater reason why people get sidetracked on the road coming home to themselves.

The detox has acted as a catalyst and plunged me right into a ritual that happens every year at this time – the practice of going inward, self-reflecting, accepting, and letting go. It is different and yet it is the same – and as the days shorten and the darkness surrounds me all over again, I continue to look forward to what I will encounter this year.

Below is an excerpt from a wonderful book, written by Marion Woodman that pairs well with this time of year and with this post. Her work is appropriately named, Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and SoulI think all people can relate to it, so I hope that this snippet inspires you to take some time to experience what it means to come home to yourself and to explore the “mess in your basement.”

Happy Fall!    

In my dream,

I was a priestess

and had prepared

the altar for great celebration.

The flowers were almost in place,

the roses almost in the center

of the sunlit altar.

(I could not make the roses fit

within the light.)

A shadow the shape of a cross came through a window.

 

An old man came to me and said,

Your hymns will never rise to heaven

until you clean up your mess in the basement.

 

But there’s no basement in this temple, I said.

That’s the problem: there is, he replied.

 

Down the rotting old steps we went

and found a slimy lagoon.

A water wheel,

joining basement to temple, lay still.

 

A huge serpent writhed,

trying and failing and trying again

to center its head on the wheel.

It knew its task was to turn the wheel–

quiet, rhythmic–with its head.

 

I tried to move the wheel towards the serpent

and it struck.

The old man pulled me out of danger,

You can’t move so fast

She doesn’t trust you.

Hasten slowly;

you will make her your friend.

 

For twenty years,

the wheel has creaked but turned;

The lagoon, fresh; 

the serpent, Sophia;

the roses, not yet in place.

 

March Happenings

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Mandala Reflections provides space for thought, dialogue, learning, and community that involves ourselves but also includes the collective experience. While a blog can offer a lot to some people, a lot of us need to experience something in “real life” to reap the full benefits. With that said, each month, Mandala Reflections provides a list of various low-cost happenings occurring in the Twin Cities Metro community that contribute to Mandala Reflections’ ongoing discussion about life, health, and wellness and how it relates to our stories. Please send me an email prior to the 1st of each month if you have a wellness event you would like to share.

Listing of events does not indicate endorsement by Mandala Reflections.

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8th is International Women’s Day! For a listing of women’s events in MN happening over the month of March, please visit the Advocates for Human Rights’ webpage.

Day Time Events:

Thursday, March 8, 12-1:30pm, Location: Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Design of Clean, Healthy Cities: Interactions Between Urban Form and Air Quality, put on by State and Local Policy Program with HSPA, Julian Marshall, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota, will discuss the design of clean healthy cities.

Thursday, March 8, 3:30-5pm, Location: Maplewood Professional Building, Watson Education Center, Fighting Cancer with your Fork, hosted by HealthEast Cancer Care, “Everyone knows it’s important to eat healthy. But did you know that the way you eat can help you live longer? Join us this March in Maplewood to learn more about diet and cancer prevention. Registered dietitian Tracie Swearingen will be leading this valuable seminar.” Cost: FREE, but registration is required. RSVP with Tracie at tlswearingen@healtheast.org or 651-232-7098.

Evening Events:

Thursdays, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 6-8pm, Location: Founders Hall Reception Area, Metro State University St. Paul Campus, Beading workshops ,” funded by a grant from the Tri‐College NEW Leadership Institute at Metro State University, “Are you interested in learning how to make your own beaded jewelry and accessories? Whether you are new to beadwork or are experienced but just want to come for the company, join us! Everyone is welcome.”  Cost: FREE- This program and materials are free for registered participants. RSVP to cultural.events@metrostate.edu and for questions, call 651‐793‐1367.

Monday, March 5, 7-9pm, Location: River Market, 221 Main St N # 1  Stillwater, MN 55082, Movie Night Monday: Independent America: The Two Lane Search for Mom & Pop, “a documentary which follows award-winning journalists, Hanson Hosein and Heather Hughes, as they travel across America in search of independent small businesses. The filmmakers speak to economists, activists, political leaders, union members, and concerned Americans from all walks of life. They also meet with a top executive from the corporate giant: Wal-Mart.”.Cost: FREE. Registration required. Call (651) 439-0366.

Monday, March 19, 6-6:30pm, Location: River Falls Area Hospital, WI, Breastfeeding Basics, helps mom and baby get off to a good start in breastfeeding. Taught by a certified lactation consultant. Cost: FREE. For more information, call the hospital at 715-307-6330.

Wednesday, March 21, 7pm, Location: MCAD, Auditorium 150, Sustainable Film Series: Living Lightly/Permaculture: A quiet revolution, Living Lightly “offers a magical glimpse into a world where the 21st century family lives with the land and the season in a corner of New Brunswick, Canada,” and Permaculture is “a documentary by Vanessa Schultz featuring leading permaculturists including the Water Institutes Brock Dolman. Be sure to “stay after for a lively discussion about the movie and relevant sustainable topics.” Cost: FREE.

Thursday, March 29, 6:30pm, Location: Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Honoring the Earth, Transforming Our Communities: Winona LaDuke on Environmental Justice, “Internationally acclaimed author, orator and activist, Winona LaDuke will be speaking about her work regarding environmental justice and it’s impact on human rights and social justice. Attendees can gain insight regarding questions like: What is environmental and what does it have to do with me? How does environmental justice go beyond ‘going green?’ What can I do to affect change in my community?”Cost: FREE. RSVP online at z.umn.edu/winona.

Weekend Events:

Saturday, March 17, 11am-12pm, Location: Sumner Library, Minneapolis, Laughter Yoga, Lighten up! Laughter yoga combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing to bring about good health, joy and peace. Bring a mat to lie on. Cost: FREE. Register Online or call 612-543-6875 for more information.

Saturday & Sunday, March 17 & 18, Sat.: 10am-7pm, Sun.: 10am-5pm, Location: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, Body Mind Life Expo“We want to help you to simplify your life, feel better, and become more centered. This year, be sure to join us at the Body Mind Life Expo! You won’t want to miss out on the expertise we have brought together to help you reach your health and fitness goals.” Also, don’t miss guest, O’Neal Hampton, season 9 contestant from The Biggest Loser. “Come listen to his inspiring story and stay to hear his exciting news!”  Cost: Payment required – $6 at the door contact for VIP ticketing.

Saturday, March 24, 8:30am-3:30pm, Location: Hennepin Ave United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland, Minneapolis, 7th Annual Twin Cities Sustainable Communities Conference: Linking Citizens and Cities for Sustainable Communities, this event is great for networking with people in the community who are dedicating their lives to all matters sustainability. Come to share your expertise, make a friend, or join an initiative. Registration required. Cost: FREE, suggested lunch donation $5-10. 

Saturday, March 31, 9am-4:30pm, Location: Neighborhood House, 179 Robie Street, St. Paul, Community Garden Spring Resource Fair “Nourishing Neighborhoods, Connecting Communities,” put on by Gardening Matters, “The annual hoe-down is back! An excellent chance to meet other gardeners and gardening organizations from around the metro area, glean what resources and opportunities are available to community gardens, and cultivate some new horticultural and organizational skills.” This year, meet keynote speaker, “Karen Washington, an active urban farmer, president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition and founding member of Black Urban Growers (BUGs). With over 20 years of experience working in New York City, Karen has developed abandoned lots into successful community  gardens and food initiatives.” Registration required, Cost: Suggested donation of $5-10.