gifts beyond the gift card (part 1) + go-to cookbooks

Looking for a gift that runs deeper than a gift card? Maybe even one that encourages, inspires and helps your loved ones feel good far beyond the holidays?

For anyone who has shown an interest in healthier eating, not just the cooks in the family, these cookbooks read more like manifestos. They are stories of the author’s personal path to finding their groove with food.

I also appreciate that they are written for people who aren’t necessarily passionate about cooking. What they are passionate about is making food that gives them energy and gets rid of the things that make them feel bad – digestion troubles, crazy cravings, issues with cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, food allergies, etc…

All of them are packed with ways to incorporate more real food into your meals… something everyone can use, no matter what your health condition or food philosophy.

 

Tara, me and an armload of her cookbooks :)

Tara, me and an armload of her cookbooks :)

Tara Stiles, Make  Your Own Rules Diet. Like all things Tara, her recipes are super simple. This one is ideal for “non-cooks” and anyone flirting with getting into yoga or meditation… lots of how to’s included.  I’d also pass along a link to her You Tube channel where she shows how really simple this food thing can be in the Recipes section. (Mainly vegan, gluten-free, natural sweeteners.)

Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good. Gwyneth’s more of a cook… but if you can follow a recipe, it will be All Good with this one. After feeling  burned out and lethargic, she turned to an elimination diet to get her back on track. Insight from Dr. Alexander Junger (of Clean) and Dr. Habib Sadeghi, combined with her passion for real food offer real-life menus for real-life families. This is the most food-stained cookbook in my collection. (Mostly gluten-free, natural sweeteners, has meat, but lots of plant-based options too.) 

Giada, Feel Good Food. This one, along with Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr are close seconds for my most used cookbooks. I love Giada’s for her beauty secrets and Kris’s for providing the MOST powerful “plant-based-diet-as-preventative-medicine” message.  Be sure to pass along the link to her Crazy Sexy Cancer movie trailer to whomever you give it to. I credit that movie, along with her blog and book, Crazy Sexy Diet for inspiring me to really explore the food thing. Both offer easy recipes. (Kris’s is plant-based. Giada has some meat + lots of plant-based options.)

Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris. Just when I thought I’d mastered smoothies, my friend Ashley rocked my world with this book. If you know anyone perplexed by superfoods like cacao, maca, lucuma, and goji berries, this is the perfect gift. Or, if you know anyone perplexed by what to do with their Vitamix, this is the perfect gift. Add Superfood Kitchen and Superfood Juices and make it a Super Special gift !

Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 delicious vegan recipes, by Sharon Gannon. This one was given to me by my yoga teacher, written by her yoga teacher, with a foreward written by my healing, nutrition teacher, Kris Carr. How can this be wrong? While I’m not vegan (yet), my heart has serious vegan tendencies. Receiving and reading this book is encouraging me to follow my heart. Regardless of where you are on the subject, the recipes are easy and nutrition-packed.

Breakfast Criminals. This is more of a movement than a book. Ksenia has taken superhuman breakfasts to the streets of NY, encouraging people to start the day with a bowl of love. You can download the e-book and order a heart-shaped bowl for a sweet gift. Two people on my list will be getting these :)

heart bowls

I could go on and on with cookbooks. Stay tuned for other gift ideas in Part 2 :)

If you need help finding your yoga, meditation or food groove,  join our40 Day program at Session Yoga, beginning January 6th, or “Let Go of 2014″ workshop with Jes Gale on December 19th. Sign up here!

 

 

 

thanksgiving tips & a toast

thanksgivingsessionWe”re in it…the holidays. Even without them, I was feeling overwhelmed and out of whack. All from good things… trips, school, planning great things to come. However, amidst all this goodness, last week I found myself kinda weepy and a lot cranky… not my best self.

Bottom line, I was tired. Not the kind of exhaustion that comes from doing things that I don”t want to do… the kind that comes from not giving myself enough space to do all of the things I love to do. Unfortunately, our body doesn”t know the difference. It just goes into overdrive trying to keep the peace…

When I get like this, I start doubting all that”s on my plate. I start thinking those things that I thought were fun aren”t necessary and maybe I just don”t have it in me to do them – like, why am I even trying to play the piano, write this newsletter and make healthy food –  all of which make me very, very happy.

This time, when I got like this, I was gentler on myself. I told Robert I was tired. He offered to empty the dishwasher and order pizza for guests. I said thank you. I took a nap. I didn”t power through to make it perfect.

Then, I took a step back and pondered the real problem. My morning meditation has been sporadic, my time on the mat has been hit and miss and most nights I”ve had no idea what to make for dinner. I took a realistic look at my calendar and let go of a few things. I made space for meditation, yoga and making food. I online casinos marked them with a mental Sharpee.

I also went back to this perspective on gratitude. One that is more about presence and acceptance than a list in a journal. It”s accepting when I”m overwhelmed, softening into it and ever so gently doing something about it… doing what I know grounds and energizes me. Because when I feel good, everyone around me feels good. Or, at least my well-being is one less thing they have to worry about ;)

I hope, in the midst of all this busy-ness, that you give yourself space to do at least one thing that grounds you.

If you need help finding your yoga, meditation or food groove,  join our 40 Day program at Session Yoga, beginning January 6th, or Let Go of 2014″ workshop with Jes Gale on December 19th

If you need a great toast for the big day,
here”s my favorite that a friend”s Spanish/French teacher taught me years ago:

toast

the little thing i learned in the big city

kalyn notebookI just spent a few days in New York City visiting my 17-year-old-as-of-this-week, niece who recently moved there to pursue dance and finish high school at the Children’s Professional School. I was excited to spend precious time with this very busy girl and to hopefully experience the list of healthy hot spots I’ve gathered from all my favorite NY-based health gurus - Tara StilesJenny SancouciRobyn YoukilisLaura Hames FranklinGabby BernsteinIIN… and if there’s time, a swing through DVF’s world.

(If I would have known she was looking for a Brand Ambassador, I would have sent her this post… and yes, I’m choosing to ignore that she’s looking for a fresh-faced 20-something. An almost 50-something can dream, can’t she?)

Turns out, the universe had a different type of list in mind. And, as usual, it was way better than anything I had on mine. Seems it was time for a lesson in “how to gracefully focus on the daily stuff that needs to get done so you can accomplish the big stuff you have on that other list.” All that was needed for this much needed reminder was to sit back and watch the poetry in motion of simply Being Kalyn.

This not-so-little-girl-anymore has always been immersed in some type of activity that called for mind-boggling discipline and energy level. Some might think, ah… it’s easier when you’re that age, blessed with tons of energy and no stress or responsibility. I mean, all she has to do is roll out of bed and show up at class, right? Not so much.

She’s human, just like the rest of us older, “wiser” ones. There are times when she’d kinda like to do something else. She wakes up kinda sore. She forgoes food she kinda wants, in favor of food that makes her feel good. She has homework… A LOT of it. And, let’s not forget the competitive world she lives in… one that requires the physical strength of an athlete AND the confidence and courage to put your own artistic spin on everything you do….. Holy Mariah.

To watch her go through her day, you’d never know she has all of this on her plate. In fact, I don’t think she even thinks about it… fingers crossed she did NOT inherit the over-thinking gene from her Aunt Denese ;)

A peak inside her daily notebook reveals a sweet little list that touched my heart:

Be Happy

Stay Calm

Dance

Do Homework

Stretch

Sleep

 

And that’s exactly what she does… along with making her food for the week and putting things like kale salad in baggies she can grab on the go. (I mean, I even have a hard time doing this…As she says, “preparation is key.” #gottaloveit)

We didn’t make it through my list of NY to-do’s - although we did sneak in a couple Strala yoga sessions with Tara (precious) and I did experience Hu Kitchen’s Almond Butter Quinoa Chocolate Bar (perfection).

I left the city with an even better list – a list of the little things I can do each day that make me feel good, the things that when I do them, the rest of my world magically falls into place:

Write Morning Pages

Meditate

Get on my mat

Drink water

 

There are other things I’m tempted to list, like play piano, do homework, plan a workshop, plan menus, plan the rest of my life… All of those are important, but when these ”little things” aren’t being done, I don’t have the energy to get the other stuff done. My mind is cluttered, I feel overwhelmed, physically tight, stuck and I get kinda wacky with food.

I left that crazy, whirlwind of energy, big city, feeling more grounded than I have in awhile. Apparently, I needed the reminder delivered in the form of a very special 17-year old.

Thank you Kalyn, for helping Aunt Denese get it together.

And, Happy Happy Birthday, sweet one. May the year deliver all you’re hoping for and may you stay grounded in that magical list of yours.

What does your little list look like? (Instagram me a pic)

 

p.s. Living your best life is about practice and progress, not perfection. We all need reminders and encouragement to listen within and do what feels best in our world. Check out my e-note for a few things inspiring me at the moment. Hope they connect with you.  Also hope to see you in yoga, Thursday  mornings, 8 am at Session Yoga.

Page 3 of 6412345...102030...Last »
© Copyright Denese Bottrell: Health & Lifestyle Counselor | created by: IZUMI STUDIOS