Exercise is a Stressor—And You May Be Overtraining

Every beat of your heart is influenced by your nervous system. The nervous system’s sympathetic branch, vigilant in every moment, is responsible for maximizing our safety. The sympathetic initiates physiological responses and adaptations to stressors and threats from our environment. Meanwhile, our default branch, the parasympathetic, is striving to quiet the sympathetic and direct as many resources as possible towards optimizing repair, digestion, detoxification, and hormonal balance.

Today, the sympathetic nervous system is frequently overwhelmed with threats coming from all directions—occupational stressors, environmental toxins, unhealthy foods, stimulants, time-zone changes, EMF, faulty breathing patterns, and even our own thoughts and high-intensity exercise. An intense training program without a “stress-mitigation program” that tackles the other pieces of the puzzle is a sure-fire way to overtrain and create stress in the body.

In terms of dose response, the simply stress needs to exceed your current “comfort zone”—it does not need to bury your comfort zone six-feet into the ground.

Improvements in fitness or any form of durability are the result of the body adapting to external stressors. When you break down your muscles by exposing them to more stress than they’re used to, they grow back bigger and stronger. This is called the Principle of Overload. The take-home message is simple: the body must be exposed to stressors that exceed its current capacity in order for the stimulus to be strong enough to elicit a change and improved ability to deal with that stress in the future. In terms of dose-response, the simply stress needs to exceed your current “comfort zone”—it does not need to bury your comfort zone six-feet into the ground. The best results come from a slight “over-reach” that allows the body to interpret the stress and recover from it, not release a massive dose of stress hormones and glycogen like the world is ending every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

As I’ve said for 10+ years, “workouts are the gas station, not the race track.”

Knowing If You’re Overtrained

Common overtraining symptoms include declining performance, hormonal imbalances, and depression. However, these are downstream effects indicative of an individual that’s been overtrained for months or years. The two far more common symptoms of overtraining are:

  1. Decreased desire to train.

    The body is very smart. The first sign of over-training is the mind requesting a day off. Does this sound familiar? Here’s a good rule of thumb: if, after a 10-minute warm-up, you still wish you weren’t there, it’s probably a day you shouldn’t be. Take it easy, and make sure this workout does not beat you down.

  2. Slower than normal results / fat loss.

    What makes the body store body fat? Fear or anticipation of an emergency or fuel shortage. In other words, stress hormones case fat storage. When exercise sessions are too hard, ramp up too fast, or we go from the couch to being a gym-rat for the first two weeks of every New Year, the body floods itself with stress hormones. The greater the disparity between the demands of your lifestyle in the previous 12-weeks, what I call your “lifestyle-A1C,” and today’s workout, the higher the likelihood it’ll be more of a stress than a therapy.

What You Can Do

  1. Cut all your “hard” workouts.

    The words “AMRAP” and “For Time” are temporarily stricken from your vocabulary. This is something I have done for nearly every coaching client I’ve had this year—and suddenly they’re getting the results they’ve been chasing for years. The beauty is, you can still work out—just keep your efforts to 60-70% of “max” and try to fuel everything with nose breathing. This helps you stay in a more fat-burning, relaxed state.

  2. Increase your 12-Week A1C score.

    Immediately begin walking 10,000 steps per day and incorporate a daily mobility practice or flow. This will improve circulation and detox your entire body while reducing inflammation and mobilizing stuck joints.

  3. Sleep.

    As my friend Bobby Maximus says, “there is no such thing as overtraining, only under-recovering.” Click here to for my favorite ways to improve your sleep hygiene and maximize the restorative benefits of your bedtime hours.

  4. Nutrition.

    Cut all alcohol, sugar, late-night eating, and junk food from your diet. When you feel stuck, it’s not the time to take a “balanced” approach to these things. You need 100% of the food you eat to be nutritious and vital to your recovering mind and body.

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.

 

On the Joy of Helping People Heal — Q&A with Scott Dolly & Julie Brautigam

Scott Dolly and Julie Brautigam make an incredible team—at the RUNGA Immersion, Scott employs various manual therapy techniques to initiate a profound change in guests’ bodies, and Julie helps guests integrate exercises in order to further promote correct posture and movement. Scott is the founder of Evolution Human Performance and Rehabilitation, specializing in movement analysis and biomechanics, as well as myofascial release and I.A.S.T.M (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). As a registered nurse and lifelong athlete, Julie has an extensive background in the medical field and health and wellness industry.

 
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Q

How did you become interested in working with the human body? Was there a moment that planted the seed?

A

Scott: My fascination and interest in the human body started when I was a little kid playing sports and practicing martial arts. I have always been captivated by meditation and human potential, including our ability to heal. After suffering many sports-related injuries and having to climb back up the mountain of optimal health time and time again, I can’t help but want to assist others experiencing the same thing. I am an absolute geek about the human condition in all of its glory. I love helping people get the most out of this journey—and keeping their bodies and minds up to the task is a big part of that.

Julie: My interest and appreciation for the human body was instilled very early on. My mom was a physical therapist and I grew up hearing stories about her house visits to her patients in rural Virginia and her work at Georgetown Hospital. I still have her beautiful set of anatomy flashcards. My dad was physically handicapped since he was 14-years old when he was diagnosed with the poliovirus and was in an “iron lung” for 6 months. He learned how to walk again, but always required canes. Witnessing my dad’s struggle with the aftermath of polio and seeing how my mother cared for him, as well as her patients, influenced me greatly as a little girl.

My work in oncology and hematology as a registered nurse really showed me how terrible cancer can be. My work in allergy and immunology showed me how prevalent auto-immune disease is in our society. All of these experiences have provided a deep understanding of the importance of movement and healthy eating and how vital these simple concepts are for total health.

Q

We understand how powerful these therapies can be, especially for individuals who are rehabilitating injuries or are otherwise in physical pain. What has been the most rewarding aspect of working hands-on with people?

A

Scott: I know what it’s like to experience injury or dysfunction and how much it can interfere with being able to live your best life. Pain is such a heavy burden to carry around, and I can’t think of many gifts greater than to be able to give someone a pain-free existence while empowering them to care for themselves. Through healing and empowering individuals, I understand the positive ripple effect it will have into all other areas and relationships in their lives. And in that, I know that I am helping improve the quality of our world.

Julie: I love being able to share my passion for health and performance and empower others by sharing my knowledge and experience. I love seeing the “ah-ha!” moments when clients get the connection or feel the movement for the first time. I also value being in the struggle with them, helping facilitate the “getting it” and expediting that process.

One of the most rewarding aspects is when the client returns to us and says that they caught themselves “doing it wrong.” Helping others become more self-aware of how they are moving or even how they are positioning themselves at rest is vital in their total mind-body optimization. When you can increase someone’s own personal awareness, you are affecting permanent change in their lives.

Q

You use a number of different modalities in your practice. When you started, did you expect that the therapy would include some energetic healing?

A

Scott: I started out as an energy healer 18 years ago and never stopped. My journey through reiki and qi gong training is what led me to the study of western medicine and the physical laws and properties of the human body. It was just the natural progression of study and investigation of the human condition.  I found that the effects of energetic issues could affect the physical systems and vice versa. The entire energy of a limb is affected when it has suffered a physical injury, and the chi that flows through that limb and through the individual must be restored for total healing to happen. But, physical training and movement integration must be included and restored as well.

What is Stacked?

Over the last year, I’ve been having some of the most meaningful conversations of my life. Life in LA has dropped me into the epicenter of all the major industries I serve—wellness, health, fitness, nutrition, and longevity. Well, I figured it was time I hit the “record” button.

My all-new podcast, Stacked, launches next Tuesday, September 3rd. Stacked will feature a weekly conversation with guests that have a profound message or perspective to share. This podcast is not an interview or a pitch. Rather, Stacked offers listeners a seat at the table—an opportunity to listen in on the real, organic conversations two experts would normally have off-the-record.

This project has quickly become something very close to my heart. I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with amazing people that have incredible stories and lessons to offer, and this unstructured, unfiltered medium has been a true joy to create within. Through free-flow conversation, every episode has a different flavor. The red light simply stays on until the takeaway value, entertainment, or benefit to the listener comes to a close.

In the first batch of episodes, you’ll hear from people such as Dr. Ara Suppiah, who went from flipping burgers at Burger King to being the primary care physician to some of the world’s top golfers, and Doc Jen, who helps us understand how we can move better, avoid injury and better understand our bodies. You’ll also hear from Marc Weinstein, empowering us to think differently about the technology in our life, and Rachele Brooke Smith on the importance of resilience and following your own path.

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording these episodes. In anticipation of the launch, we’re celebrating with the Stacked Launch Giveaway—giving you the chance to win $140+ worth of my favorite Four Sigmatic mushroom products (and we’ve tossed in a RUNGA mug for you too!).

Onwards and upwards,

Joe

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.

 

Buttery Green Goddess Dressing (Plant-Based, Paleo, Keto-Friendly)

Nothing brings a salad together more than a good dressing—it's the heart and soul of the salad. Like many people, I have my go-to dressings that I’ll turn to again and again. However, I’ve found that no matter how great your favorite recipes are, it’s essential to change things up every once in a while to stay excited about your greens. That’s where this Buttery Green Goddess Dressing comes in—featuring avocado, champagne vinegar, dill and cilantro.

 
Seamus Mullen’s beautiful little gem salad with Green Goddess Dressing, shallot and sprouted sunflower seeds.

Seamus Mullen’s beautiful little gem salad with Green Goddess Dressing, shallot and sprouted sunflower seeds.

 

My love for salad was reawakened a few weeks ago when Seamus Mullen made dinner for the RUNGA team. Seamus topped his little gem lettuce with this beautiful, buttery dressing that was like no Green Goddess I had tasted before. I was so inspired that I’ve been making my own version of this Buttery Green Goddess Dressing ever since, and it’s quickly become a favorite among houseguests and family.

 
Seamus drizzles Green Goddess Dressing on top of little gem lettuce.

Seamus drizzles Green Goddess Dressing on top of little gem lettuce.

 

This dressing is so creamy and flavorful that you can indeed feel satisfied after “just a salad”—which, ultimately, I think is what we are all after when it comes to salad. It also pairs wonderfully with whatever vegetables that you might like to add. For a quick and nutritious lunch, I pair the dressing with shredded lacinto kale, radishes and yellow baby tomatoes.

 

Green Goddess Dressing

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Ingredients

1 1/2 large hass avocado
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium shallot
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1.5 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice (I used Meyer for a little added sweetness)
1 medium garlic clove
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (I used birch-smoked salt for a subtle smoky flavor, start with 1/4 tsp if using non-flaky salt)

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

  2. Add to a salad containing greens and vegetables of your choice.

  3. If you have leftover dressing, place in a glass container. The dressing will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.

    Time: 10 min | Level: Easy

 

Hopefully you’ll love this dressing as much as we do. A fun way to change it up is to use a different kind of vinegar or experiment with using different herbs. If you make any delicious varieties of this dressing, we’d love to know in the comments.

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

On Growing Your Own Food & Cooking For Family — Q&A with Jessa Greenfield

Jessa Greenfield is an expert on bringing wellness into the household. Influenced in part by her childhood on her family’s farm, Jessa’s teachings focus on how to live a healthy, natural life in our modern era. As the wife of Ben Greenfield and mother of their two twin boys, Jessa spends much of her time creating the perfect environment for her family to thrive, and is an invaluable resource when it comes to food preparation, body detoxification, and designing a healthy home.

 
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Q

How did your passion for healthy living begin?

A

I grew up in a home that was largely “healthy” and I have also been a runner for much of my life, so a healthy diet always seemed to go hand-in-hand. What escalated my passion for mindful and healthy living was really my twin boys. When they were born, I wanted the absolute best for them—as most parents do—so I began reading and researching. One of the first things that I did was rip out my backyard and put in a veritable garden and ever since then, fresh, healthy food has been a major priority in our house.

Q

When it comes to wellness, what is the most important element to you?

A

I truly believe that the most important thing is keeping stress down. I think many folks want to implement everything all at once and that has the potential to cause major stress, burn-out and ultimately, a sense of failure.

Q

What advice can you give people who want to start experimenting with growing their own foods?

A

When it comes to growing your own food, I always suggest starting by learning one new major skill and mastering one plant. For example—take a composting class and implement your learnings. Then, learn how to grow blue-ribbon worthy tomatoes!

Q

We love hearing about the ways you nurture your twin sons' creativity and individual personalities. If you could give one piece of advice to other parents, what would it be?

A

The one thing that I think goes the longest way with kids is making sure that they feel needed and know they are part of the tribe. It is such a great way to boost their confidence and give them a desire to contribute.

Q

What is your favorite meal to cook with or for your family?

A

Homemade sourdough pizza is a family favorite! We have come up with so many creative variations. Also, sourdough waffles are a Saturday morning tradition that my son Terran is particularly passionate about.

5 Ways to Sleep Deeper Tonight

Our body performs so many vital functions during our sleep, making sleep quality one of the most important ingredients to optimal health. In fact, the primary part of our body to suffer from lack of sleep is our brain. During sleep, our brain not only absorbs and integrates all of the inputs of the day, but toxins are also flushed from it. As you can imagine, malfunctions in these functions can create a host of problems—not limited to decreased immune function, increase in stress hormones, imbalances in appetite and blood sugar, and increase in inflammation.

With many of us staring into screens late into the night, having a less than optimized eating schedule, and other habits related to our modern lifestyles, it’s no wonder why so many of us struggle with achieving a good night's sleep. Sleep hygiene—encompassing all of our habits that affect how we sleep, when we sleep and how optimized our circadian rhythm is—is more important than ever. Taking measures to improve our sleep hygiene is a sure-fire way to improve all areas of our health and wellness, and the following are highly impactful, low barrier steps that we can take to sleep deeper tonight.

1. Avoid Bright Lights for Two Hours Before Bed

If you have to work close to bedtime, dim your office lights and shut off any fluorescent lights. I highly recommend swapping a few of the lamps in your house to amber light bulbs, and before looking at your TV, laptop, phone, or tablet, make sure you have dimmed them and turned on the warm setting. Many people are surprised to learn that just five minutes of white light from screens can significantly impact your sleep by shutting off your melatonin production for up to 4 hours—this is the real reason why a lot of people experience increased energy in the evening. In blocking blue light, blue blocking glasses are a great investment.

2. Wind Down

Within an hour of going to bed, set aside time to wind down and reflect on the day. Two of my favorite breathing techniques to promote relaxation are long deep breathing and alternate nostril breathing. I recommend sitting cross-legged on a pillow or mat that is comfortable for you, and setting your timer to at least 5-minutes, choosing which breath you would like to sustain.

Another great practice is journaling, for which I recommend starting with 10-minutes—noting any reflections, experiences you were grateful for, and including your intentions for tomorrow. Journaling helps us stay present with our experience, connect with our intentions, and serves as a reminder of what’s important to us.

If your mind is still racing or you are having a hard time falling asleep, you may also wish to listen to a meditation or dharma talk as you fall asleep. Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield’s talks and meditations are suitable right before bed, and any time of day when you need to take some time to yourself.

3. Take Supplements

Magnesium and Zinc

Magnesium helps reduce stress and regulate melatonin, which in turn improves deep sleep. I recommend Thorne’s Magnesium Bisglycinate supplement. The benefit of bisglycinate over the more common magnesium citrate is the elimination of nearly all GI distress. Magnesium in doses of 500mg and higher are tremendous for sleep, however, if you take that much citrate you may need to cancel your morning meetings.

Zinc is often paired with magnesium in many sleep supplements, and for good reason! These two work together to relax your muscles and improve your recovery from your daily exercise and output. I recommend Thorne’s Zinc Picolinate (30mg). I take 2-3 capsules each night. You can purchase both here.

5-HTP

5-HTP is a compound that can help promote deeper sleep, and through increasing serotonin, can result in feelings of happiness, relaxation, and even satiety, helping with food cravings and emotional eating.

CBD

CBD has received much attention in recent years—again, for good reason. It has been shown to have incredible effects on inflammation throughout the body, as well as promote feelings of relaxation and general wellbeing. A couple of nights a week, I’ll take a 30mg serving of BioCBD+ Total Body Care capsules.

Vitamin D

A Vitamin D deficiency will severely impact sleep quality. I recommend taking a vitamin D3/K2 supplement, as K2 must be taken with Vitamin D to limit risk of high blood calcium. Thorne makes a liquid D/K2 which is small and easy to carry with you on the go. Although you can, you do not need to take this directly before bed.

4. Limit Exposure to EMFs, WiFi & Electronic Devices

The waves generated from your wireless router are disruptive to health and sleep. While it may be unavoidable during the day, you certainly don’t need WiFi while you sleep. Minimizing your exposure when you can is essential for better sleep, and for lowering your risk of diseases that are increasingly being linked to EMF exposure. Your phone also receives and emits signals while it is on, so make sure to turn it off or at the very least, put it on Airplane Mode while you sleep.

5. Optimize Your Bedroom Conditions

Sleeping in complete darkness makes a world of difference when it comes to sleep quality. I highly recommend purchasing good black-out curtains for your bedroom to maximize your body’s melatonin production. Any light—even the moon shining through your window or a faint light from a neighbor’s house—can disrupt your melatonin production. For any small electronic light sources in your bedroom (such as a space heater or AC), cover the light with thick matte tape.

Keeping your room cool at night also has a positive effect on sleep quality. When your bedroom is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you are less likely to fall into the deeper stages of sleep. For most people, the perfect temperature for a great night of sleep is 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

All of the above measures are great first steps to a healthier, more optimized circadian rhythm. Other steps that we can take include working out earlier in the day, rather than later. If you do exercise in the afternoon, make sure to schedule it at least 3 hours before your bedtime. It is also recommended to save your carbs for the end of the day, and eat most of your fats (especially saturated fats) around mid-day. To promote extra relaxation at night, I recommend purchasing an essential oil diffuser and buying a dedicated sleep or relaxation blend.

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.

 

On Food Philosophy and Creativity in the Kitchen — Q&A with Seamus Mullen

Seamus Mullen is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and co-host of the goopfellas podcast, known for his inventive yet approachable Spanish cuisine and passionate focus on health and wellness. After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2007, Seamus was forced to rethink his relationship with food and has since written two cookbooks, ‘Hero Food’ and ‘Real Food Heals.’

 
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Q

What are a few of your most loved kitchen essentials?

A

I can’t cook without olive oil, good quality sea salt (I’m a huge fan of Jacobsen’s Salt Co) and some good vinegar. A little splash of delicious vinegar goes a long way to make a dish sing.

Q

Was there a particular moment when you knew that you wanted to be a chef or a moment that planted the seed?

A

I fell in love with cooking at a young age, but never really considered pursuing it as a career until after I graduated from college. I studied Spanish language and literature and spent most of my college in Spain where I worked in a small tapas bar. When I finished school, I was a little aimless and not sure what to do with myself and the only real career skill I had was cooking. My grandmother took me aside and said, “you love cooking, you’re happiest when you cook, that’s what you should do!” And the rest is history!

Q

What helps you get in touch with your creative energy in the kitchen?

A

Ingredients. I’m a stickler for using the best ingredients possible and trying not to screw them up. Nothing is more inspirational to me than walking through the farmer’s market in peak season. I never go with too much of a plan, but rather I just go and let the produce speak to me. I always find new things (Spigorello, anyone?) and come up with new ideas for dishes.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

Moving to Los Angeles! It’s taken me nearly 19 years to leave New York and as much as I’ve wanted to, I have resisted it, but moving here has been so good for my head, my heart, my body and my soul.

Q

We know that your health journey has hugely influenced you, both personally and as a chef. How would you sum up your food philosophy?

A

Probably best summed up in the title of my second book Real Food Heals. I truly believe that there is not a single health issue that won’t benefit from a healthy relationship with food.

Follow Seamus on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for recipes, articles and more.

DIY Hazelnut Milk & Other Plant-Based Milks

Many people are surprised to learn how easy it is to make their own milks. You can use your nut or seed milk like you would use dairy—to add creaminess to smoothies, ice creams and savory foods such as soups, sauces or purees. For its aromatic qualities, Hazelnut Milk is one of my favorite milks to make when having friends over for coffee.

 
Keep your milk refrigerated in glass containers—I love my reusable juice bottles from Erewhon.

Keep your milk refrigerated in glass containers—I love my reusable juice bottles from Erewhon.

 

The process begins by soaking the hazelnuts in water at room temperature for 6-8 hours, and if you’re using another nut or seed, no problem—simply refer to this Soaking Guide. This recipe can be used with almonds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and even seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, and hemp seeds.

 
Nuts and seeds should always be rinsed well after soaking, and the soaking water should always be discarded.

Nuts and seeds should always be rinsed well after soaking, and the soaking water should always be discarded.

 

Soaking initiates the sprouting process, neutralizing enzyme inhibitors in nuts and seeds that prevent nutrient absorption. In addition, this process of soaking cleans them, removing any dust or tannins. Although you absolutely can make milks without soaking, it certainly makes your plant-based milk much healthier.

 
Blend water and soaked hazelnuts on high until thoroughly combined (about 1-2 minutes).

Blend water and soaked hazelnuts on high until thoroughly combined (about 1-2 minutes).

 

When we talk about nut milks being as being a healthy alternative to regular milk, it’s important to distinguish between DIY milks and most of the milks that can be purchased at grocery stores. As a rule of thumb, milks purchased at the grocery store should only have the following three ingredients: nut, water, sea salt (and occasionally vanilla). Anything beyond that and you’ll be much better off making your own.

 
Squeeze your nut milk bag until no more liquid comes out, of course, making sure your hands are clean for this step.

Squeeze your nut milk bag until no more liquid comes out, of course, making sure your hands are clean for this step.

 

Although you can strain your milk using a fine chinois or a regular strainer lined with cheesecloth, I love using nut milk bags. They truly ensure that you won’t have any pulp in your end result. As for all that leftover pulp, you can keep it for use in crackers, bread recipes, and even the crusts of plant-based desserts. Eventually, I’ll share a few of my favorite recipes using nut pulp.

 

DIY Hazelnut Milk

This recipe yields 4 cups of hazelnut milk.

This recipe yields 4 cups of hazelnut milk.

 
 

Ingredients

1 cup hazelnuts, soaked for 6-8 hours (or your chosen nut/seed, soaked per the Soaking Guide)
4 cups water

Flavoring (Optional)

Vanilla, 2 tsp extract or 1/4-1/3” scraped bean
Virgin coconut oil or coconut-derived MCT, 1-2 tbsp
Organic stevia, to taste
Salt, pinch

Instructions

  1. Once soaked, rinse hazelnuts well and discard soaking water.

  2. Blend nuts and water in a high-speed blender until thorougly combined. Make sure there are no large chunks remaining.

  3. Grab a large mixing bowl, and strain mixture through a nut milk bag, a fine chinois or a strainer lined with cheesecloth.

  4. Rinse your blender, and then pour the strained milk back in. Add flavor as desired and blend well.

  5. Once ready, pour into glass containers. As a general rule, homemade milks will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.

    Yields: 4 cups  | Time: 10 min | Level: Easy

 

After making your own milk, you’ll likely never go back! I make an extra-large batch twice a week, flavor half of it (for uses such as coffee, Four Sigmatic medicinal mushroom concoctions, or ice cream making) and keep the other half unflavored for when dishes call for plain milk (such as soups or sauces). With more and more people developing allergies and intolerances to foods they eat with some frequency—such as almonds in the paleo community—making your own milk is a great skill to have so that you can change up which nuts and seeds you are consuming on a regular basis.

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

When Whole Foods​ Aren't Enough

Scavenging the internet, there’s no shortage of healthy recipes, superfood smoothies, and articles promoting the benefits of eating whole foods. While eating vegetables and leafy greens can be incredibly beneficial to our health, the issue arises when we think that our plant-rich diets mean that we don’t need to take supplements. Of course, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to take supplements. However, in 2019, I believe it is near, if not entirely, impossible to do this to get all of our nutritional needs met from our diets.

Problem 1: Loss of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in our fruits and vegetables.

Throughout the last tens of thousands of years, humans have incidentally been stripping away essential nutrients by breeding more palatable fruits and vegetables—increasing sweetness and decreasing bitterness in our diets. The fruits and vegetables we know and love today are much lower in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats than wild fruits and vegetables, and unsurprisingly, significantly higher in sugar.

As an example, the wild plant purslane has six times more vitamin E and 14 times more omega-3 fatty acids than spinach, and seven times more carotene than carrots. Wild apples, too, have on average 475 times more phytonutrients than modern varieties. The reality is that most of us don’t have access to wild plants like this, hence why supplementation is a good idea. To learn more about how nutrition has shifted over time, and how to maximize the bioavailability of nutrients in our food today, I highly recommend picking up Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.

Problem 2: Chemical farming has destroyed our soils. 

Healthy soils put the medicine into our food. Unfortunately, chemical farming has left our soils so depleted that the nutritional value of our foods is a mere fraction of what it used to be. The fruits and vegetables that most of us have access to are simply not providing us with what we would find if we were to research their respectful nutritional profile (especially when it comes to non-organic, conventionally grown produce).

Some of these foods, like non-organic strawberries, cucumber and kale, are actually harmful to our health due to the egregious amount of pesticides used which can significantly disrupt our gut microbiome. As we have all been exposed in one way or another, certain gut support supplements can be incredibly useful, such as l-glutamine and beneficial probiotics. RESTORE is another product that I’ve used for a while, designed to restore your gut microbiome and protect it from even more harm from certain environmental contaminants in our food, water, and even air (more on this below).

Problem 3: Environmental conditions, toxins and pollutants.

Our nutritional needs have never been higher due to pollutants in our air, water and food supply. This, in addition to fluorescent lights, high-stress, lack of sunlight and our general disconnection with nature, affects our bodies in countless ways. It is not surprising that the vast majority of the American public are deficient in both Vitamin D and magnesium—perhaps the two most important nutrients for health and longevity. With so much detracting on a daily basis, our bodies need maximal nutrition in order to be able to heal from these unnatural conditions and substances—hence a heightened need for many important nutrients via supplementation.

This isn’t to say that you can get the benefits of eating well from supplementation. In fact, eating a plant-rich, whole foods diet and supplementing is essential to do together—especially to the extent that eating whole foods is preventing you from consuming processed, inflammatory foods. I often see signs such as “do no harm” and “leave no trace” on hiking trails, because when left alone, nature can rebuild and heal itself. Our bodies are the same in many ways, and for that reason, removing unhealthy foods is just as important than (if not a prerequisite to) the addition of superbly healthy foods or supplements. (Of course, being careful about which supplements we introduce is a whole other topic. For an overview of my top recommendations, click here.)

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.

 

On Mitochondrial Health, Entrepreneurship, and Personal Development — Q&A with Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield is an Ironman triathlete, human performance consultant, speaker and author of 13 books, including the New York Times Bestseller “Beyond Training.” Ben is also the host of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast and CEO of a leading supplement company, Kion. Ben works with individuals from all over the globe for both body and brain performance, and specializes in anti-aging, biohacking, and achieving an ideal combination of performance, health and longevity.

 
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Q

As one of the world's leading authorities on health and wellness, what are some of the most consistent things you find yourself recommending?

A

Most commonly, it’s things that enhance the health of the mitochondria. When it comes to mitochondrial health, we’re speaking specifically about elements that affect light and biophotonic signaling within the human body. I tend to recommend anything in the realm of infrared and red-light signaling, such as photobiomodulation panels or headsets. In addition, I recommend anything related to taking advantage of pulse electromagnetic fields (PEMF), such earthing, grounding, and certain footwear, mats and devices that allow one to enhance the mitochondria in this way. I also recommend anything that includes elements of cold and heat, such as devices that one can wear for cold thermogenesis, cold tubs, cold baths, cold showers, along with saunas, infrared saunas and heat exposure. Finally, good clean water! I find myself recommending water filtration systems, structured water, hydrogen-rich water, and even deuterium-depleted water along with high intake of minerals.

In summary, the big ones are light, grounding, earthing, heat, cold, good water and minerals, because they have such a profound influence on the mitochondria, which is so important for the human body.

Q

You wear so many hats in your daily life. Can you offer any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs?

A

Pay attention to the work of folks like Cal Newport, such as his book Deep Work. Not only should you find your passion and your purpose, and be able to define that in one succinct clear statement, but once you find it, you need to cut yourself off from distractions such as social media. Instead, every single day, find at least 4 hours—and a maximum of 6—to engage yourself in that extremely deep and meaningful work, with no distractions. So you are spending time creating rather than consuming. Viewing yourself as a creator rather than a consumer, and as someone who has a distinct purpose in life and is able to create deep work, is going to take you really far in life from an entrepreneurial standpoint.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

That’s a tough one, but I would say that one risk that I took recently was to branch out from being a “solo-preneur,” an author and speaker, and to start a nutritional supplements company, Kion. This was 2 years ago, and—despite being a path raw with unexpected twists and turns—it’s wound up being a complete joy to build a company, a culture, and a team of amazing people around me who can help me to deliver incredible formulations and wonderful scientifically proven compounds to people that I know are going to change a lot of lives. It’s risky to start a business like that, but I’m very glad that I did.

Q

Is there a particular person that influenced you in your career or personal development? What qualities did you admire in them?

A

Frankly, I’ve never had a mentor or one single person that I look up to. However, I do read a book a day. I am a voracious reader, and as a result, my mentor is my own personal library—chock full of books by great thinkers like Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Munger, Jesus Christ and a whole host of folks who I consider to be wonderful philosophers, educators, thinkers, doers, and achievers. My library truly has influenced me the most in terms of my career and my personal development.

Follow Ben Greenfield on Instagram, Facebook and visit his Website for podcasts, articles and more.

Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Paleo, Keto-Friendly, Plant-Based)

There aren’t too many truly guilt-free foods that spark memories of childhood glee and nostalgia like this Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. It is 100% sugar-free, sweetened only with pure stevia, and full of healthy fats from the hazelnuts themselves, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed hemp oil, and coconut-derived MCT oil.

Pure hazelnut butter after processing blanched roasted hazelnuts on high for up to 10 minutes.

Pure hazelnut butter after processing blanched roasted hazelnuts on high for up to 10 minutes.

As a classic in our home, this Brain-Health Chocolate Hazelnut Butter gets me through busy workdays and satisfies any desire for something sweet, without leaving me feeling unfocused or sluggish. I know so many people who miss eating Nutella and occasionally sneak the occasional spoonful of a store-bought “healthy” version. Of course, these are still laden with sugar and often undesirable fats. The solution, of course, couldn’t be simpler—this Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter is extremely easy, beyond delicious, and keeps well in the fridge for weeks.

 

Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Paleo, Keto-Friendly, Plant-Based)

This recipe yields enough Chocolate Hazelnut Butter to fill one 16 oz. mason jar. You can also fill  small mason jars  to pack on-the-go.

This recipe yields enough Chocolate Hazelnut Butter to fill one 16 oz. mason jar. You can also fill small mason jars to pack on-the-go.

 
 

Ingredients

4 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tbsp cold-pressed hemp oil (I use Nutiva)
2 tbsp cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut-derived MCT oil (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
15-20 drops of pure liquid stevia (I use Omica Organics)
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Lay your raw hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until they have darkened and some of the shells are beginning to fall off.

  3. Once cooled, we want to rub the skins off the hazelnuts, one cup at a time. Place a cup of hazelnuts into the middle a clean kitchen towel, wrap it up and rub the nuts. When you’re done with all of your hazelnuts, place the blanched nuts into the food processor. (If you would like to save a little time in the future, know that you can also purchase blanched hazelnuts and skip this step).

  4. Process the hazelnuts on high until the nuts transform into a creamy and smooth hazelnut butter. This step may take up to 10 minutes.

  5. Add the other ingredients, with the exception of stevia, and process until fully blended. Because of varying potencies of different liquid stevia products, I recommend adding stevia last and to taste.

    Yields: 2 cups  | Time: 45 min | Level: Easy

 

The Chocolate Hazelnut Butter will keep in the fridge for up to four weeks and can be kept at room temperature during the day. While you can omit the MCT oil, I love adding it as it makes it extra drizzly. I use this butter to drizzle over raw cakes and pastries, and it’s also beautiful to use when plating desserts.

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

5 Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation exists at the heart of all disease, with many naturopaths, doctors and scientists agreeing that no disease can arise without the preliminary presence of inflammation. With the palpable amount of stressors that exist in our modern world—everything from our cell phones, to the WiFi networks circling around our homes, to chemicals in our food systems—we have to take advantage of the most effective compounds and practices known to reduce inflammation.

  1. Turmeric

    Turmeric may be the world’s oldest medication, with health-focused usage dating back over 5,000 years. In terms of its powerful anti-inflammatory and sports-recovery benefits, much of turmeric’s potential has been attributed to a single polyphenol compound within it, known as curcumin. When it comes to curcumin, 1,000 mg twice per day is how much most people should be consuming for optimal benefits. I also consume up to a tablespoon of turmeric root powder per day, often in the form of golden milk, a shake, or other foods (such as Emilía’s Turmeric Tahini Cauliflower).

  2. Breathwork

Living in a more sympathetic, “fight or flight” state than in “rest and digest” can cause mouth-breathing, hyper-oxidation and eventually, damage to our mitochondria. With an increased number of free radicals being produced and more inflammatory cytokines being put into circulation, our immune systems become impaired.

Through real-time measurements of my and my clients’ heart rate variability and heart-brain coherence, I have found box breathing to be one of the most effective ways to get myself and my clients into a parasympathetic, “rest and digest” state. Here is my modified version of box breathing:

Prior to starting the breath, practice activating your sex organs a few times (as you would if you were trying to stop yourself from urinating) by contracting for 4 seconds, then relaxing for 4-seconds. Repeat this 3-5 times.

Next, inhale slowly and steadily across 6-seconds, expanding the abdomen with air. Then hold the breath in for 4 seconds.

After holding, exhale slowly and steadily across 6 seconds.

Hold your breath “on empty” for 8-20 seconds.

After a few cycles, try activating your sex organs as you inhale and exhale the air out of the nose. You should feel that it allows you to control the airflow and extend the time spent inhaling and exhaling. Extend your inhale and exhale by 2 seconds at a time as you see fit. Eventually, do not be surprised if you find yourself inhaling/exhaling across 20 or more seconds.

3. Cold Immersion

Any form of cold immersion is going to clear the slate on your nervous system and allow you to take control of your day. A simple 3-5-minute cold shower each morning is enough to start reaping many of the benefits of this age-old practice. When you’re ready to take things to the next level, read this article.

4. CBD

CBD is one of the most beneficial compounds for combatting inflammation. When I am in tough training blocks, as I am at the time of writing this article, I completely lather my shoulders with this CBD enriched hemp oil after every upper body workout. This oil combines hemp with curcumin and a number of other natural anti-inflammatory compounds including ginger and eucalyptus. I also take these pills of full-spectrum CBD extract, containing 0% THC.

5. Meditation

Evolutionarily, we are engineered to react to the world around us—it’s how we kept ourselves and our families safe across millennia. However, the “outer world” used to only approach us in ways that demanded a reaction a few times per day. Today, our environment demands our attention thousands and thousands of times per day—not limited to morning traffic, coffee choices, social media and email. If we’re not careful, we can ride these waves and life carries us away.

Meditation allows us to connect with our inner world, giving us a portal into the present moment and a means of working with our emotions. In beginning meditation, the aim is just to anchor our focus and simply bring it back when it gets away from us—think of it as bicep curls for your attention. Just 10 minutes per day of silent deep breathing with your eyes closed, using your breath as an anchor, is a great practice to start with.

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.

 

On Showing Up, Digital Detox, and Being Well — Q&A with Joe DiStefano

Joe is the Founder of RUNGA, and has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. Influenced by his own experience of healing after a traumatic brain injury, Joe’s teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life. As Head of Sport at Spartan Race for 8 years, Joe trained professional endurance athletes and taught trainers all over the world how to best support their athletes year-round.

 
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Q

As a coach, what are the things you most consistently prescribe?

A

Although today I work almost exclusively with executives and “weekend warriors,” the core of my approach hasn’t changed much from my days of working with college athletes and professional runners. Essentially, no matter what you use your body for, us humans have the same operating systems, compensating in many of the same ways, with similar underlying patterns.

For this reason, the most consistent things I prescribe are breathwork, lower-extremity mobility work, and walking. Breathwork begins with proper diaphragmatic activation and spills over into breath-holding drills, patterned breathing, and torso-expansion exercises, such as belly-breathing. This helps the body improve from the inside-out, calms the nervous system, and ensures that the foundation is set for greater work to be done. As for the lower-extremity mobility work, years of walking on a concrete jungle—and often in tight, narrow shoes or high-heels—leave us with feet that hardly function. This creates a ripple effect of dysfunction, starting at the feet and ankles, and moving up to the knees, the hips and so on. Many are surprised to learn that pain anywhere in the body can be rooted in the feet.

As for walking, it simply ties both of these together. After mobilizing the feet and activating the breath, going on a walk can help “upload” a lot of the new software. Sitting is the new smoking—our bodies desperately need movement to be optimally vital and healthy.

Q

We know that your own health journey has hugely influenced you, both personally and in your career. How would you sum up your wellness philosophy?

A

I truly believe that our emotional states, belief systems, self-care tendencies, our day-to-day joy and the quality of the relationships in our lives make up the majority of our wellness. I think of wellness as being the zest an individual has for life, perhaps best represented by the energetic impact they have on the people around them. Interestingly, in contrast to health and fitness, wellness can’t really be measured.

On my own journey, I learned that it isn’t possible to maximize all three—health, wellness and fitness—at once. At my fittest, I could pick up nearly 400 pounds from the floor, but I was far from well mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When I finally began to work “in” and tap into my higher self, I didn’t have as much space for working “out” anymore.

Today, I’m finally catching my stride with all three. Wellness takes the most effort and patience, but once you do the work, you can play with health and fitness with great passion and excitement. In a sense, wellness sets the base level of consciousness that fuels the other two as hobbies or mindful pursuits—as opposed to punishments for that cheeseburger you ate last night or something.

Q

Digital detox used to play a dominant role in your messaging. Where does that element fit in now?

A

Our reliance on our electronic devices is even more of a problem today than it was a few years ago when I promoted it as part of my, and RUNGA’s, core program. Ironically, the reason that the problem has grown in gravity is the same reason that I don’t pay lip service to it as heavily anymore. The people that need it the most aren’t aware they’re afflicted! The digital addiction is so subcortical that the messaging often falls on deaf ears, or simply doesn't appeal to people. It’s far easier to get their attention with pictures of wine bottles and sandy beaches, and then give them what they really need when they show up!

So although I may not lead with it, I still believe in it whole-heartedly. In fact, the ambiance and culture of a RUNGA event is not very conducive to people being on their phones. Hence, we sort of show people the light and the value of “digital detox” without smacking them over the head with it.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

Ha, all of them! My favorite one was probably the time I took a week’s vacation to the Virgin Islands and then decided to stay another six months. At the time, I had a very successful personal training business in the height of its growth stage. With many other things going on in my life at the time, including rehabilitation from a traumatic brain injury, I knew in my heart that I was beat and truly had no idea how long I could sustain the business.

When I came home, the business was—for the most part—waiting for me. And on top of that, I had restored my energy and my vision for the future was so refined that I ended up building a far more successful business, which I sold two years later.

Q

Is there a particular person that influenced you in your career or personal development? What qualities did you admire in them?

A

The first person to come to mind is Dr. Pete Percouco, a Chiropractic Neurologist in the Boston area and one of the doctors I would frequent during the rehabilitation of my traumatic head injury. Prior to meeting Dr. Pete, I was delivered the crushing blow that “[I’d] be Michael J. Fox by 30.” Needless to say, I was feeling depressed and helpless.

Living within the paradigm of “90% of success is showing up,” I made sure to walk in every day and go through treatment. One day, Dr. Pete—who, by the way, is a larger than life kind of guy—woke me up. Truly the Tony Robbins of my life, he ingrained in me that success is not just about showing up—rather it’s having the belief, the faith, and the intent in, not just the process, but also your unique journey.

From then on, our sessions started lasting an hour or more at times. Dr. Pete taught me about the brain, the areas of my brain that were injured and what those areas controlled. He even taught me about the neurotransmitters that I needed to feel well and believe in myself, and what we were doing to build them up. I learned that you are a walking placebo effect—whatever you think and believe is what you get. Dr. Pete put me on the path that led to where I am today.

Follow Joe DiStefano on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for support on your own wellness journey.

Real Food Heals: An Afternoon with Seamus Mullen

Last week, we had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Seamus Mullen, a world-renowned chef with a focus on real, whole-foods, and our chef at this year’s RUNGA Immersion. Seamus is the author of Real Food Heals and Hero Foods, as well as the host of the GoopFellas Podcast.

 
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We started at the famed Santa Monica Farmer’s Market—known for being the largest in LA, and where a lot of the city’s chefs procure ingredients.

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The market truly features some of the best organic produce that California has to offer.

Seamus chose a variety of vegetables that stood out to him—not limited to exotic herbs, whole sorrel, summer squash and colorful radishes.

 

Seamus showed us a handful of his tricks in the kitchen—including his signature technique for rustic summer squash.

The little gem salad featured a beautiful Green Goddess dressing made with avocado and champagne vinegar.

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The meal was not complete without 100% grass-fed flank steak from US Wellness Meats.

Served with a vibrant, flavorful chimichurri to complement the entire spread. We enjoyed these nourishing foods with a light red wine from Dry Farm Wines.

 
 
A variety of plant-rich, fully paleo dishes crafted on the spot by Chef Seamus Mullen. Our favorites included a chilled sorrel soup and sautéed amaranth greens with lion’s mane mushroom.

A variety of plant-rich, fully paleo dishes crafted on the spot by Chef Seamus Mullen. Our favorites included a chilled sorrel soup and sautéed amaranth greens with lion’s mane mushroom.

 
 

Of course, no day with the RUNGA team is complete without cold immersion and movement.

The workout consisted of a combination of kettlebell swings, heavy carries and fanbike sprints. We ended with ice baths to stabilize blood sugar, reduce inflammation and fully bring us into the present moment.

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Follow Seamus on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for recipes, articles and more.

Photography by Tammy Horton.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Plant-Based)

These Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies belong in any kitchen that appreciates this classic combo. Simple and sure to fit most dietary specifications, these cookies are truly ideal—both for family snacking and when entertaining guests. This is also a wonderful recipe to make with your little ones.

 
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While I specialize almost exclusively in raw desserts at Shanti Kitchen, I can’t deny that there’s something comforting about the occasional bite of a baked good. Even my regular clients love simple, easy-to-make baked treats that feel like something one might get at a bakery.

With June gloom behind us here in Venice and our Meyer lemon tree in full bloom, I decided it was a great time to share these Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies, made with almond flour. The cookies are sweetened with coconut sugar, and the cream topping with pure liquid stevia. To make these sugar-free, feel free to sub the coconut sugar with Lakanto or pure erythritol.

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

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Ingredients

Cookies
1 3/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
4 tbsp coconut flour
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp poppy seeds
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp almond extract

Topping
160ml coconut cream
4-6 drops of pure liquid stevia (or to taste)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Add all cookie ingredients to a large mixing bowl, with the exception of the coconut oil, flax egg and lemon juice. Mix together.

  3. After allowing your coconut oil to soften at room temperature, add to the rest of the mixture. If your coconut oil is still pretty solid, you may wish to blend or whip it like you would with cream or butter. We want it to be soft enough so as to not end up with clumps in the dough.

  4. Once everything is mixed really well, your batter may be slightly sticky. Use a cookie scoop to roll the dough into balls. Place on baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

  5. Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes, just as the edges of the cookies become golden. Let cool at room temperature.

  6. To make the cream topping, simply combine the coconut cream with lemon juice and stevia. You can whip if preferable, but mixing well with a spoon works fine as well.

  7. Once the cookies have cooled, place a generous dollop of the cream topping over each cookie, and sprinkle a little lemon zest on top.

    Yields: 14-18 cookies  | Time: 35 min | Level: Easy

 
 
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The cookies will keep in the fridge for up to a week, and can be stored at room temperature when serving. At parties, I like to just load a huge platter with these Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies. They never last very long!

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

On Creativity, Following Your Heart and Mindfulness — Q&A with Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Shanti Kitchen in Venice, CA, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. An autoimmune diagnosis at age 12 brought Emilía onto a path of self-healing, both physically and spiritually. Today, she focuses on gut health and a low-sugar, plant-based diet with intermittent fasting as a powerful healing modality. Emilía instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation at RUNGA, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 
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Q

What are some of your most loved kitchen essentials?

A

Good salt! Also good cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. There are so many great salt companies out there, and I personally love importing Icelandic sea salt to bring a little bit of my heritage into the home. As for olive oil, I like La Tourangelle for everyday use, but my favorite is the Frantonio Muraglia extra virgin olive oil — it sits in its white and blue ceramic, abstract expressionist bottle on our counter next to the espresso machine, and has the perfect stout for light drizzling. But I’m definitely a little biased because of its beauty!

Q

Do you ever feel uninspired? What do you do?

A

Of course! It may seem like inspiration should come naturally to those in a creative role, but we all need to prime our bodies to let creativity flow through us in this modern world. Meditation plays an important role, because often we can feel uninspired due to stress, or simply something we are holding onto. I think about this quote from Rumi, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I see creativity as being very much the same.

There’s so much natural inspiration inside of our wise hearts, and so much creative energy that can flow through us. Practically speaking, I believe that anything that strengthens our sense of self is helpful in nurturing that connection, and that can be anything from journaling, to meditation, to singing! Even being out in nature. This is an area where kundalini yoga in particular has been incredibly helpful to me over the years — getting me into my body and unlocking stagnant energy.

Q

Is there anything you don’t do when you’re uninspired?

A

If I’m feeling uninspired, I absolutely do not go on social media. Inspiration and creativity flow when we feel safe and it doesn’t flow when we’re in a state of comparison, feeling like everyone else is already doing the thing, and they're doing it better. When we are focused on others and what we don’t have, we aren’t in a good place to let our unique creativity and purpose flow through. There’s no trust. And it’s a little bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, because even if it creeps out, we simply aren’t in the headspace to trust it, to say ‘yes’ to it and bring it to life.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

I spent four years studying law in London and Austin — and I walked away despite my earlier, very strong aspirations of becoming a successful lawyer and, of course, my family’s expectations of me. It’s not that I stopped enjoying it or that I lost my passion for justice, I just suddenly had nothing to prove. And it was what it was.

In truth, I struggled with the duality for a long time. When meditating on it, I realized ‘what a crazy way to live!’ and it felt very natural to me that we would part ways. I let myself live very true to myself for a little while to see what would come out. Within that time period, I felt so connected with myself and my surroundings, and I became so proud of my creative endeavors. Once I shed this thing that I used to see as part of my identity, I truly opened up into a world of infinite possibility. It was incredibly expansive.

To this day, I ask myself what feels expansive and what feels restrictive. And I follow that. You don’t need to know what’s going to happen next. Just let your heart and your gut guide you, and see where you land. You can always measure what you’ll lose, but you’ll never know what you could gain.

Q

How does mindfulness translate to the quality of the relationships in your day-to-day life?

A

I have to say that all of my relationships are deeper on some level. Within a romantic relationship, we of course have the potential to go really deep and I think in some way, this has contributed to mindfulness often feeling like a two way street for folks. You may experience success and deepening with those who are on the same path, but feel resistance with others — or, to correct myself, maybe mindfulness in relationships feels passive unless the other person is also engaged in the process in some way.

As real as that may feel, the truth is that we can improve any relationship by deepening our role within it. Usually, we achieve this by simply by being a good listener and reminding people of their goodness by seeing the good in them. By practicing seeing the goodness in those around us, we naturally get good at uplifting others and letting people know what we see, which of course, anyone who has ever received a compliment can agree, “Yeah that felt good, and it in some small or big way, shifted how I feel about myself.” And that’s how it starts. Meditation and mindfulness really are far from passive in this way.

Follow Emilía Rún on Instagram and Facebook.

Your Guide To (Easy) Herb Oils

Herb oils are a fun and creative way to infuse flavor into any dish. This is the perfect staple recipe for using your leftover herbs. You can use any herb, including parsley, mint, cilantro, tarragon, sage, and thyme—all will work wonderfully.

 
Elevate any dish with this bright herb oil.

Elevate any dish with this bright herb oil.

 

Today we’re making rosemary herb oil. Our garden in Venice has an abundance of rosemary, and I’m never quite sure what to do with it. Besides sending neighbors and friends home with handfuls of rosemary and freshly-cut white roses, we still seem to have more than we know what to do with.

 
One of the abundant rosemary plants in our garden.

One of the abundant rosemary plants in our garden.

 

Traditional herb oil recipes involve blanching the herbs beforehand. This recipe is simpler than the traditional method, as we have eliminated this step. While these processes do yield a beautiful and shelf stable oil, we can achieve fantastic results with raw herbs (and our secret ingredient for color: spinach).

 
Fresh rosemary, cleaned and dried.

Fresh rosemary, cleaned and dried.

 
 

Easy Herb Oil

Ingredients

1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh rosemary or herb of choice, loosely packed
1 handful fresh spinach (optional)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Clean your spinach and fresh herbs and, unless using soft herbs, remove from sprigs. Feel free to leave the stalks for herbs like cilantro and parsley.

  2. Try to get as much water out of the spinach and herbs, making sure they are dry before transferring to the blender.

  3. Add your oil and blend on medium-high for 1-2 minutes. You should see the mixture become smooth and bright green in color (especially if you added the spinach).

  4. Strain the mixture through a chinois or other fine strainer (a Chemex with a steel filter works great as well). The oil may take up to 30 minutes to fully strain.

  5. Once strained, pour oil into a glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. I highly recommend neatly labeling your jars with the type of oil and the date.

    Yields: 1 cup  | Prep time: 10 min | Level: Easy

 

Rosemary in particular happens to be incredibly healthy in culinary doses, with some individuals adding rosemary sprigs to their morning brew for the neuroprotective qualities. A dollop of rosemary oil in your coffee might be a smoother and more effective way of incorporating this healthy herb. If you try it for yourself, I would simply recommend using a neutral oil such as walnut or avocado oil (not extra virgin).

 
Drizzle this beautiful herb oil over any dish for a bright yet subtle flavor infusion, or even to elevate a simple snack.

Drizzle this beautiful herb oil over any dish for a bright yet subtle flavor infusion, or even to elevate a simple snack.

 

This is a wonderful way to get more herbs and healthy fats into our diets, and it happens to look gorgeous when plated. From dressings to marinades to soups, the uses for herb oils are seemingly endless.

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation classes, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

Your First Ice Bath — Here's What You Need To Know

With the weather in many parts of the world starting to warm up, you may have had the thought of taking an ice bath or a cold shower. By now, the benefits of cold immersion are well known, yet many struggle to integrate this powerful practice into their regular routine. Before you dive head first into the cold, here are a few things you should know in order to create an enjoyable (and repeatable) experience.

 
As people begin to navigate evolutionary shortcuts in our physiology they no doubt will stumble onto the power of exposing our bodies to extreme cold.

As people begin to navigate evolutionary shortcuts in our physiology they no doubt will stumble onto the power of exposing our bodies to extreme cold.

 

Getting comfortable in cold showers is truly a prerequisite to a sustainable, healthy relationship with cold immersion. Regular cold showers will help you understand the basic physiological responses that you will experience in an ice bath, and you’ll get better at managing them. This will also help you have more pleasant ice baths — both in terms of the time that you will be able to stay in and your body’s reaction to the cold.

When the time comes that you want to give your body that extra shock, this guide will come in handy. Here’s everything you need to know for your first ice bath:

What’s the right temperature?

For most of us, the benefits of cold immersion begin at any temperature that makes us uncomfortable, and yet still empowers us to make the practice part of our regular routine. That means you also don’t want it so cold that you’ll struggle with consistency. Ice baths and cold plunges are typically between 38°F to 45°F, but personally, the sweet spot for me lies somewhere between 45°F and 52°F. You can always stay in longer!

How do I set it up?

Before investing in a tank (such as a cattle trough), start with your home bathtub or locate a spa with a cold plunge. When filling your tub or trough, I recommend using enough water so that you can submerge your entire body up to your ears. Exposing the neck and thyroid gland to the cold is hugely important in order to regulate your body temperature, and will help your body adjust to the cold.

If using a 100 gallon tub or pool, I recommend starting with 60 lbs of ice and 70 gallons of water. This should bring the temperature to about 50 degrees and allow for a tolerable yet challenging jumpstart into the realm of cold immersion.

How do I prepare?

Prior to cold immersion, you want to activate the parasympathetic, “rest-and-digest” branch of the nervous system, and maximize your body’s natural nitric oxide production. You can do this easily using deep breathing. Start with 1-2 minutes each of alternate nostril breathing to help you relax, then incorporate cat-cow and finally end with 1-3 minutes of powerful inhales and exhales through the nose. When you’re ready to step in, do so while holding your breath on an exhale to reduce the shock.

How long do I stay in?

The target time of a cold plunge, especially when considering all the effort you have exerted so far, is three minutes. This is why you should build up to a 5-minute cold shower in the weeks preceding your plunge. Three minutes is also long enough to tap into the most desirable cold-immersion benefits, such as improved blood sugar regulation and fat burning.

That being said, if you are at 50-degrees or just under, the body can withstand far longer than 3-minutes. In fact, the goal after 4-6 weeks would be 10+ minutes at this temperature, which should then be reduced by 2-3 minutes with every 20 lbs of ice added to your 70 gallons of water. The most important thing here is to listen to your body — usually getting out as soon as or shortly after you start shivering.

How do I get the most out of my experience?

Submerging your whole body as you get into the ice bath is another beneficial detail. The total-body dip exposes the whole body, thyroid and back of the neck to the cold, which elicits a more dramatic maximal hormonal response. After the initial dip, you can also dip your face in periodically throughout the plunge, which continues to send a dramatic message into the nervous system, ensuring that you get the benefits that you are after. Remember to breathe through your nose throughout the experience, and know that the first minute is the most painful.

 
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Cold immersion is truly an enjoyable practice — one that you can build a very pleasant relationship with. It isn’t meant to be torture, and it’s important to respect and appreciate it for all of the benefits it can bring you, including the immediate benefit of feeling more awake and present. The most important aspect of the practice is to enjoy yourself.

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.