Healing Hot Cacao Drink

It’s starting to get chilly, holiday music is playing and the desire for warm, hot and toasty beverages is on demand! Once it hits fall and then winter an automatic switch goes off in my head. I want comfort and drinks that soothe me!

This time of year, I always make my healing hot cacao drink. Rich and creamy like regular hot chocolate, minus all the junk- including sugar and artificial flavors and processed dairy ingredients. Instead, gain anti-inflammatory, healing benefits from the cacao, cinnamon and collagen.

Keep reading to learn more and for the full recipe!

Cacao is an antioxidant, contains magnesium, healthy fats and a natural mood lifter! Plus its delicious, I mean who doesn’t love the taste of chocolate. Next time you want to cozy up on the couch, grab a mug of this must have beverage!

Ingredients

Serves: 2

1/4 cup cacao powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbs pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

12 oz unsweetened cashew or almond milk

1 scoop collagen powder (optional)

Steps:

1. On stove top add all ingredients, whisk and allow to come to slight boil. Then turn off and pour into mugs.

The Healing Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

In my opinion, there is really nothing better than some freshly, roasted sweet potatoes added to a salad, side dish or on their own. There is something soothing, comforting and grounding about this root veggie.

It’s vibrant in color, easy to prepare and naturally sweet and savory. So, because it is by far one of my favorites and I eat it on a regular basis, I think it is only fair to share with you some of the hidden healing benefits that most people overlook!

For starters, sweet potatoes contain nutrients that can promote better digestion, improve sleep and even all the way to protecting your eyes and heart! Sweet potatoes are filled with fiber, potassium, vitamin A & C, along with many other micronutrients.

Today, I want to specifically highlight a few healing benefits. So keep reading below to learn more! It’s some real exciting stuff!

Sweet Potato and Resistant Starch

When we think of starch we think of normal carbohydrates, right? Well that is not necessarily the case for a resistant starch, they have a bit of a different profile. The big difference is that these types of starches do not get digested in the small intestine at all, which we all know is the major site of digestion for many nutrients. Instead, these starches get digested in the colon by a process called fermentation. This is carried out by the microbes in our natural flora.


Why Do You Care?

There are so many health benefits to consuming resistant starches! These foods that contain this specific fiber are also known as prebiotics. Essentially, these foods act as fuel for beneficial bacteria within the gut. This produces a microbial balance within the large intestines.


The result of the fermentation process within the large intestines are end products called short chain fatty acids. Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid specifically is linked to promoting better immune function, protection against mood related disorders and even reduces risk of chronic diseases. Specifically to the gut, butyrate has an anti-inflammatory effect on the colon.

I’m sure you are all wondering what types of food have these resistant starches in them, and there are a lot of foods that do! However, sweet potatoes are a very good food choice when trying to reap the benefits of these starches. More specifically, cooked THEN chilled sweet potatoes.

More Benefits of the Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable that not only taste delish both savory and sweet, but they are extremely important to our health as well. They give us protection against free radical damage and oxidative stress as they contain key antioxidants such as vitamin A & C. These vitamins act as antioxidants to protect body systems. As I mentioned earlier, specifically the heart and eyes as just a few examples.

Another benefit of the sweet potato is that it helps to increase the production of serotonin in our bodies, which is a neurotransmitter that is used to regulate our moods. If serotonin gets too low, it increases the risk of depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and even those sweet cravings. We all are guilty of these sweet cravings once in a while, but you get what I mean!

Incorporating Sweet Potatoes in the Diet

Often times, I suggest trying to incorporate some root veggies, such as sweet potatoes to an evening meal. The combination of carbohydrate and its ability to produce seretonin can help to promote more restful sleep. In addition, your digestive “fire” sort to speak is much lower in the evening, as your body winds down. So eating foods that are easier to break down in the evening is also a bonus.

Check out this recipe below. It is a personal favorite that I have been eating for a long time. It hardly takes prep time and you can easily pack it! For more recipes, be sure to grab my free recipe e-book! Filled with over 50 tasty recipes.


Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl

Ingredients

Serves: 2

1 medium sweet potato

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup plain goats milk yogurt or non-dairy option (optional)

1 apple, cubed

2 tablespoons pecans, chopped

2 tablespoons almond butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and lightly dry sweet potato. Poke with a fork and place on rack or in glass pan. Bake for about an hour or until soft.

  2. Peel cooled sweet potato and slice. Set to the side. In two bowls, first place yogurt if including. Mix yogurt with vanilla extract. Then add slices of sweet potato. Sprinkle cinnamon, add nuts and apples. Then drizzle with nut butter.



Dandelion Greens and Their Healing Power

What is Dandelion? (Besides a Pesky Weed)

What if I told you dandelion greens are one of my favorite foods? I am being serious! Most people view the dandelion plant as an invasive weed that deters from a beautifully cut lawn.

However that so called “pesky plant” has an abundance of health benefits, flavor and has been a popular dish for many years in the Mediterranean culture. I would often eat fresh dandelion greens, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt at my grandmother’s house in the summer months.

To me, this was just about as normal as munching on a green salad drenched in ranch dressing! It is time that we start to truly think of our food as medicine and pay close attention to the beautiful and healing foods that mother earth provides us.

The Sneaky Benefits of This Food

Not only can dandelion greens aid in the natural detoxification of your body, but this bitter green also stimulates the digestion process in the body. The dandelion greens can be eaten or a tea can be made using the roots and leaves.

Show me the Benefits!

Now you have a basic understanding of why the dandelion greens are so beneficial, but what makes them so dang healthy!?

The greens of the dandelion plant are packed with vitamins A, C, E, B, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc! Who would have thought?

A lot of the benefits are targeted at the liver and urinary tract but that does not mean that other parts of your body don’t reap the benefit as well. The roots of the plant primarily target the liver and the detox pathways. Some studies have been conducted and the results show that dandelion root tea can actually protect against certain liver disorders, and aid in the detoxification from some medications.

Dandelion greens also act as a diuretic which is extremely beneficial for our urinary tract! The urinary tract and the kidneys work together to rid our body of any toxic waste that could potentially cause harm to our bodies, and the dandelion greens play a helpful role in this process.

Dandelion has a positive effect on the immune system as well. They help to protect against cell damage, infection, and disease. Your body is constantly fighting off toxins from the everyday environment. Dandelion root is actually an antioxidant (thanks to the Vitamin E and C). These are known to fight against the unwanted free radicals that form from toxic exposure.

Incorporating Dandi into your Day

I suggest incorporating these bitter greens into your diet weekly if you can! You can often find dandelion greens at the supermarket. I suggest steaming or sautéing them and finishing with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon and a pinch of sea salt.

You can also drink as a tea. My favorite is the Traditional Medicinal dandelion root tea. It’s an excellent way to kick off your morning or use as a substitute to coffee!

I want to start my healing journey, right now!

Are you ready to learn about other ways to heal your body? Be sure to schedule your free 10 minute discovery call with me today and I’ll fill you in!


Healing Tahini Bowl


This is absolutely one of my favorite go to dinner recipes. It is incredibly simple to make, filled with nutrition and it’s delicious! What more could you ask for in a meal?

I have to admit, over the last year I have developed an obsession with tahini. It is rich in flavor, provides the perfect creamy texture and is the finishing touch to so many of my meals.

So I decided to create a meal around the tahini! When I go to create a meal, I ask myself three questions. Does it contain plenty of vegetables? Healthy fat? And protein? I will ask my clients the same!

Veggies, protein and healthy fat provide fuel, energy and the nutrition your body needs to heal. This dish is packed with a variety of veggies, avocado and tahini for good fat and ground turkey as a protein. Your dish may look a little different, based on preferences but have fun with it!

My Healing Tahini Bowl has all the yummy goodness you need at your next dinner!

Enjoy this recipe. In fact, check out my recipe e-book for over FIFTY hand-crafted recipes, just for you. xoxo

Healing Tahini Bowl

Serves: 1

1 cup broccoli, florets

2 cups spinach

½ avocado, sliced

1 cup sweet potatoes, cubed

2 tbs cup tahini

1 tbs olive oil

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs avocado oil

Sea salt and pepper

4 oz ground turkey, sautéed

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a baking sheet mix broccoli and sweet potatoes with oil and cinnamon, roast for a total of 25-35 minutes.

2. Add spinach to pan over medium heat in 1 inch water, stir until wilted and then remove. Then add the spinach to the bottom of a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. In the same pan, cook ground turkey, season with sea salt and pepper.

3. Add ground turkey, sweet potatoes and broccoli on top of greens.

4. Top with avocado slices and drizzle with tahini.


Favorite Austin Spots to Improve Your Health

My life in Austin- self care, healing tips and favorite places to go. Enjoy your life and still heal your body!

I often get asked the question by my clients, so “what would you do” or “what’s your life like outside of work.” I think there is definitely an expectation that if you preach something then ya best practice it! So that being said, I definitely think my business and personal life mesh into one giant gray area. My passion for health and wellness is what got me into the business! So I absolutely practice what I preach. Am I perfect? Heck no! But I certainly take steps daily to improve my health. This could mean in terms of diet, movement or emotional care.

So, I am here to give you what an ideal day of fun looks like for me here in Austin. These are all activities I participate in on at least a weekly basis.  So if you’re looking for ways to have fun and still heal your body, this is your guide.

I’ve put this together so that you can continue to have fun and enjoyment during your healing journey!

A Morning Walk around Lady Bird Lake.

Starting your day with a fasted walk can improve insulin and blood sugar levels. Spending time in nature in the morning hours is a great way support circadian rhythm. Walking in general can be a form of meditation. I love going with a friend, listening to a podcast or soaking up the natural sound of the birds just waking up.

Picnik Breakfast and Beverage

Picnik is the perfect place is you want a nourishing, high quality meal. I personally love grabbing a breakfast there. Unlike many other breakfast options, these are nutritious, low in sugar and will keep you satiated. I never pass up their Mayan Mocha drink. A blissful mixture of coffee and cacao with some healing ingredients.

A trip to the Central Austin Library

Libraries are infectious to me. Where else can you go that provides so much knowledge? I love to grab a few books and head to the roof deck and do some reading.

Grabbing Seasonal Foods at the Austin Farmers Market

I’ve spent the last few years getting to know some of the farmers here in Austin. I love the entire experience of going to the market. The local picks are incredible. Outdoor markets are always fun!

Drop In Black Swan Yoga Class

Black Swan has been my go-to studio. Yoga allows my brain to slow down, I focus on my breath, heart space and stretch my body. I often find that after yoga I have much more clarity about situations. Just like you, I also get overwhelmed and need some time to process and recharge.

Salsa Class at Moonfire Lounge

Dancing fills my soul on all levels. No matter what is going on, I can immediately find a happy place when I move my body to good music. I especially love learning salsa.

Yogi Stress- Relief Lavender Tea and Eating Evolved Midnight Coconut Dark Chocolate

I love winding down in the evening with a cup of herbal tea, a piece of local dark chocolate and music playing in the background.

Looking for more support on your healing journey? Check out our blog and even better, reach out to me through the contact page!

**not affiliated with any of these establishments


A Healthy and Healing Holiday Season

A Healthy and Healing Holiday Season

It is almost the holidays again and if you’re like me you are probably getting excited for all the festivities. I absolutely love the holiday music, seeing close friends and family and also taking part in some winter fun! Not much of a skier, but I do love to ice skate!

Anyways, people also correlate this time of year with food and indulging in some dishes that only come around once a year. And since you have to wait until next year to have it, it’s easy to overeat and then regret the decision a few minutes later.

If you find yourself struggling during the holiday season, you are not alone. I work with many individuals during this time. I guide them through logical steps so that they can stay on track, reach their health goals and still enjoy the holiday season!

At the same time, comfort foods are the epitome of the holiday season and you do not want to feel like you have to deprive yourself of all the goodies. Deprivation can often lead to feelings of anxiety, stress and you with the cookie jar at midnight.

Once Thanksgiving hits, it feels like the holiday parties, feasts, and goodies just keep coming day by day, and you might find yourself giving into the unhealthy patterns. First of all, do not judge yourself if you happen to indulge in something. Let it go and move on. If you allow yourself to feel guilty after indulging, you are going to keep brewing negative thoughts in your head and that will lead to a series of negative behaviors. So let’s now move onto some simple steps that you can implement.

Healing Tip 1: Stick to a Routine

It can be very challenging to stick to a routine during the holiday season. Parties on the weekend, shopping in the evenings after work and coordinating travel plans with relatives coming into town.  It’s certainly easy to get off track and slip from your exercise and health routine.

Do the best you can to stick to your routine. There is only so much time in the day, but set aside at least 15-30 minutes for self care and prioritize healthy meals and eat vegetables daily!

Healing Tip 2:  Listen to Your Body

When you are attending a holiday dinner, truly listen to your body.  When you tune into your hunger and fullness cues, it can be easier to slow down and not overeat. Turn this meal into an experience. Let’s practice.

- As you sit down, take a few deep breaths. Breathing can help to stimulate proper digestion and calm the nervous system.

- Give thanks and gratitude for the beautiful meal that has been prepared for you.

- Take a few sips of water.

- With your fork, take a small bite of food. Chew slowly, fully breaking down the food. Think about the flavor, the texture on your mouth and how this food is serving and healing your body.

- Rest your fork down, converse with someone else around the table.

-Eat slowly, repeating this process for 15-20 minutes. Tune in to your fullness cues. Are you still hungry? Are you satisfied? Keep in mind, that you will want to finish your meal when you are 80% full, as opposed to actually feeling full. If you are still hungry, you can always go back for more!

-We often overeat and underestimate the power of just slowing down. You don’t necessarily need to make major changes in your meal during the holidays, just slow down. This can definitely help you to eat less.

Healing Tip 3: Movement

Move your body. With the winter months, it can be easier to sit inside and munch on the extra holiday sweets as opposed to getting in some movement. Move your body every day.

This does not mean you have to do an intense workout every day. Try something as simple as walking.  Especially after holiday dinners. Get the whole family to join in on a walk. Make it a new, fun tradition!

Healing Tip 4: Be Prepared

The absolute worse is when you show up somewhere ravenous. Trust me, it is so easy to overeat when you are starving. I’ve been there!

Be prepared and have a snack before you show up. It’s culturally accepted to starve yourself all day until a holiday meal so that you can eat more. Instead, try to stick to a regular eating routine.

Eat a snack with protein or healthy fat. This will stabilize blood sugar, curve cravings and save you from overeating.

I personally like to pair nut butter with celery sticks, munch on macadamia nuts, eat ½ avocado or even a hard boiled egg.

Working with a Dietitian this time of year can be crucial for your health. Especially if you are someone who tends to have the winter blues or get caught up in the holiday fun, only to realize in January you are far from your goals.

Be sure to reach out and let me know how I can support you.

Happy Holidays! Wishing you all a healthy and healing holiday season.

Xoxo

Eleni


Managing Blood Sugar Naturally

I love that we are addressing natural ways to manage blood sugar today. I was someone that always struggled with low blood sugar, fatigue, “hanger” cues and the shakes. Then if I ate something high in carbs or sugar, I felt shakier, sick to my stomach and ended up with a headache! It was honestly a never ending battle. I also felt anxious and stressed if I had to go more than three hours without being near food. All because of my wacked out blood sugar.

If this is also you, you’re not alone. You also don’t have to feel like this! I was able to break this cycle and prevent the harmful effects that the swings in blood sugar and insulin could have had on my body down the road. I did this just through nutrition and lifestyle changes!

Swings in Blood Sugar

Swings in blood sugar and especially high blood sugar can be harmful. Particularly if it goes unattended to for quite some time. Glucose or sugar enters the body through the consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates like grains, dairy products, processed snack foods, fruit and starchy vegetables.

When you overload your system with glucose, it signals the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin helps carry the glucose into the cells so that you can use it as energy.

What you don’t want is extremely high levels of blood sugar for a long period of time. It can lead to various complications pertaining to your health. Some things that can result from high blood sugar levels are weight gain, diabetes, stroke, eyesight issues, fatigue and intense sugar cravings.

Naturally Managing Blood Sugar

There are many natural approaches to managing your blood sugar and even get things back in check!  The idea is to eat a healing diet with foods that are low in natural sugar, good healthy fats and protein. I always talk to patients about a balanced plate. This will contain plenty of non-starchy leafy greens, a high quality protein source, olive oil/avocado or some other healthy fat and a small amount of a carbohydrate. Such as a starchy winter squash, gluten-free whole grain or legume.

Protein and healthy fats will help to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. Trying to stick to 2-3 meals daily can also be beneficial. Quick tip, letting your blood sugar get too low can be very stressful to the body. If you’re someone who typically skips a meal and is ravenous a few hours later, try something different! Carry a protein rich snack for an on-the-go option like nuts or make a quick meal ahead of time to have on hand. The key is to avoid these roller coasters throughout the day.

Sleep and Exercise

A combination of daily exercise and a proper sleep schedule is the recipe for success when it comes to managing your blood sugar levels. When you workout it increases your ability to metabolize glucose and rid the blood stream of all that excess sugar that is hanging out in there.  In fact, a fasted walk before breakfast or walking after meals can balance blood sugar and insulin levels.

Likewise, adequate sleep will boost your tolerance of glucose and essentially increase glucose metabolism as well. Did you know that when you are tired you tend to eat more because your body is desperate for energy that it is deprived of? So strive to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night!

An hour before bedtime, hit the switch! Shut off the computer and dim the lights. Recent studies show that blood light can increase insulin resistance.

Check out some of these blood sugar friendly snacks below. For more information or to personally start your healing journey, reach out to me. I’d love to hear how I can help you!


Blood Sugar Friendly Snacks

Celery Sticks with 1-2 TBS Nut Butter

Olives and Sharp Goat Cheese Slices

Half Avocado with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Mixed Raw Nuts

Hard Boiled Egg

Herbal Tea with 1-2 Scoop Collagen Powder

1 cup Bone Broth


How to Naturally Reduce Stress

What Causes Stress

We have all experienced some type of stress in our lives rooting from a variety of things, such as a job, social commitments, school work, etc. The cause of people’s stress may be different across the board, but the way our bodies react to stress is the same for everybody.

Essentially your body goes into what we like to call the “fight or flight” response, when this happens, your adrenal glands release a bunch of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is responsible for increasing your blood pressure, heart rate, and energy supply. Cortisol is the main stress hormone that can alter all other important bodily functions such as suppressing your immune system and digestive system during times of stress.

Usually when whatever is causing your stress has passed, your hormone levels normalize and your body functions can proceed as normal. If your stress is long term and your hormones remain in an elevated state, you are at a higher risk of developing other health problems such as anxiety, depression, headaches, etc.

Healing Tips to Manage Stress

Tip 1

There are several natural ways that your body can manage stress, For starters, pay attention to your diet. Foods that are highly processed and loaded with sugar will only fuel the fire. Make sure you eat regular meals with high quality protein, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables. This will fuel your body and keep your blood sugar stable.

Tip 2

One of the most important ways to manage your stress naturally is through exercise or some type of physical activity. Exercise is shown to reduce the levels of your stress hormones and increase your endorphin levels. This helps to elevate your mood and relax your mind from the stress that is burdening you.

Tip 3

I’m sure we all know that stress likes to mess with our sleeping patterns, leaving us up until all hours of the night and depriving us of precious beauty sleep. I know once my brain starts, it won’t stop. The less sleep we have the more stressed we will feel. I suggest creating a nighttime ritual after dinner. Start by reducing electronic use and completely avoiding all electronics an hour before bed. Take a bath with epsom salts, sip on chamomile tea or pick up a book. Work on shutting down your brain. Try to get to bed before 10pm. By doing this, you are promoting your ability to enter into a deep sleep cycle and skip the second wind that happens if you stay up late.

Tip 4

Restorative yoga poses are a wonderful way to relax, sink into some feel good stretches and recharge at the same time! I personally love the legs up against the wall pose. Blood will flow back into your organs away from the extremities. This can be very healing and naturally help to reduce stress. Try this for as little as 3-5 minutes daily. Lay flat on the floor, with a pillow for under your head. Make sure your bottom is touching the wall and your legs are parallel and also touching the wall. You can also put on relaxing music for an enhanced experience!

Tip 5

The last tip I will give you for managing stress is to simply just breathe! Deep breathing exercises can activate your parasympathetic nervous system which controls your relaxation response. It also helps to reduce your heart rate and will make you feel a sense of calm and peace. I personally like to use the equal breathing technique with clients and myself. Find a quiet place, either sitting or laying down. As you inhale through the nose, puff the belly out. As you exhale through the nose, pull the belly in. Count to four each time, creating equal length in breathing. The counting is also a great way to distract your mind from racing with thoughts.

I hope you find these tips helpful during heightened times of stress. Addressing the root cause of emotions and stress is important during your healing process.


Healing and Nourishing with Hibiscus

What is Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a plant that is typically cultivated in tropical regions like Sudan, Egypt, Thailand, China and Mexico. In the world today the top commercial producers and exporters of the hibiscus plant are China and Thailand. Hibiscus was used in the past as a type of historical folk medicine, used to treat high blood pressure, liver disease, and fever. The flower is large and trumpet shaped with five or more petals.

Benefits of Hibiscus

There have been many studies conducted to test the effect of hibiscus on people with certain medical illnesses. The flower of the plant contains a large amount of compounds called flavonoids, proanthocyanidins and vitamin C. Aside from fancy words, this simply means that this is a nutrient packed flower with high amounts of antioxidants to fight inflammation and boost immunity! Hibiscus has also been used to address mild colds and flus, bruising or swelling.

Consuming Hibiscus

The most common use of the hibiscus flower is to steep it in hot water to brew as a tea, where it can be an alternative to many teas such as green, black, etc as it is caffeine-free. The flavor of the drink can be naturally sweet, tangy and tart and throw your tastebuds for a loop!

Not an overall fan of hot tea? No problem! This unique flower can be brewed as an iced tea alternative if that is something that appeals more to you. It’s a great way to stay hydrated during warm months if you find it hard to drink water. Traditional Medicinal (one of my favorite tea brand - no affiliation) provides a fantastic hibiscus tea blend. If you want to perform some herbal magic in your kitchen, check out this tasty ice tea to make at home!

Mixed Fruit & Hibiscus Tea

Ingredients:

  • 3 organic red apples

  • 1 pack of fresh organic blackberries

  • 3 Hibiscus tea bags

  • 10 cups of water

Steps:

  1. Put the tea bags, apple slices and blackberries in a large pitcher.

  2. Pour the boiling water in a pitcher.

  3. Let stand for 30 minutes.

  4. Remove the tea bags and discard them.

  5. Refrigerate the ice tea. Serve chilled.