Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Save the Dolphins

Every so often something comes along that I have to share; because it touches my heart and moves my soul. Recently I was asked to shoot photos for a local fund raising event that was raising money to support the efforts being made to end the capture and slaughter of dolphins in Taiji. Along with the fundraiser, they were also screening the movie, "The Cove".

It was in incredibly difficult movie to watch and I was crying all during the last twenty minutes; but it is a movie that I would recommend to everyone. It is something I feel needs to be seen.

For more information please check out SaveJapanDolphins.org and if you get the chance; I encourage everyone to see "The Cove"...it is incredibly tragic but very informative and educational.

Much love to all and keep living luminously...with love, happiness and compassion.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Whip 'Em Out!

A healthy lifestyle starts from the very beginning, and what better way to get your little one on the road to living luminously then to feed them "Nature's Miracle Food"...breast milk.
August is national Breastfeeding Month!!! Here's a little video in honor of what's best for baby...BOOBIES!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Meditation for Gratitude

This is a simple meditation exercise to help us not get caught up in focusing so much on what we want or what we think we need; but instead being completely grateful and mindful of the things we have.

Warm up Exercise
Write down ten things you are grateful for, or make a mental list in your head.

1. Find time to be alone and in a place where you will not be disturbed. (I have even done this meditation while showering before bed; because being a mom...sometimes that is as much alone time as you are going to get!) Sit in any way that makes you comfortable and read or think over the list of ten things you made before.

2. Generate a sincere sense of gratitude for each item on your list. If you are grateful for your health; feel thankful for this good fortune. If you have a car, no matter what condition, be sincerely grateful to have transportation. If you have a partner, think of their wonderful qualities and be grateful that they are a part of your life.

3. After you have gone through your list, sit quietly and thank yourself, God, the universe, or whomever or whatever you choose for the gifts you have been given. Resolve on a daily basis to be mindful and grateful for the blessings you have.

Happiness is a state of mind. By allowing compassion, kindness, gratitude and love into our hearts and opening our minds to them, we can all live a full, truly happy life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What do you mean I can't have Ice Cream?!?!

As many people know; I have a little problem with dairy. No, it's not that I have some weird aversion to it; but I have an intolerance for Casein (the protein found in milk and milk products).

While I've tried to "ignore" this fact for as long as I can; in recent years I've started cutting dairy out of my diet completely and let me tell you, I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

BUT...(and this is a BIG but!)

I was always sad about loosing three of my favorite "dairy rich" foods; ice cream, pizza, and macaroni and cheese and I vowed to find a way to get all three back into my life in some way, shape or form.
Well, it's been over a year and I have finally succeeded in making delicious "dairy free" (and wheat free for that matter; since I have a slight intolerance for wheat as well...but that's another blog altogether!) versions of all of them!!! It took a lot of trial and error but the outcome was well worth it.

I know there are a lot of people out there who have issues with dairy, so I thought I would share the best recipe (The ice cream one!) with everyone so that more people would have the chance to welcome this tasty treat back into their lives!

Lauren's Homemade "Dairy Free" Ice Cream

2 1/3 Cups of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (you can sub. soy or rice, but I found that I liked the taste of almond best when it came to ice cream products)
3/4 cups of evaporated cane juice
2/3 cups of almond oil (or macadamia nut oil or avocado oil..I go with what is cheapest because all three come out relatively the same)
1-2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

Mix all ingredients together and put into an ice cream maker and follow the directions. I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and it works great, no special changes need to be made. I have also made this ice cream by hand in a plastic bag with ice and rock salt, so it works that way as well.
I'd allot about two hours to let it "set up" in the freezer after it's mixed so that it's a little bit harder, but then scoop and ENJOY!

This recipe is for basic vanilla. You can add almost anything you like to this version to make different flavors. My favorite so far (and a favorite of my two toughest critics...my husband and my brother) is mint chocolate chip. Just substitute one teaspoon of the vanilla for one teaspoon of peppermint oil to the ingredients and then add vegan or dairy free chocolate chips during the last five minutes of mixing.

Welcome back...it's been a while

Hey everyone!
It's been a while since I was on here and the timing just felt right to pick up and start writing again.
A lot has happened since I was last here and there's so much to write about. :-)
But, since I don't want to bombard people with "EVERYTHING" all at once I'll start slow...hehe.

Being a mom to an almost one year old is a pretty tiring job! Chasing after him non stop and (lately) planning his first big birthday bash has me a little more stretched than usual. But one thing I can always count on is a few quiet minutes before bed to curl up with a good book and just escape my hectic mind for a little bit.
The book I have been re-reading lately is
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler. There is something about reading the words of the Dalai Lama that truly touch my heart and uplift my spirits; and paired with the "Devil's advocate" and "modern man of science" role that Howard Cutler, a psychiatrist, plays it is the perfect dialog to bring peace, compassion and hope into my mind when it is at it's most chaotic and distressed.
It's a book, that I feel like everyone should read at some point in their life; because it is about finding your happiness and living it. But it's presented in such a simple straightforward manner, even in light of some of Dr. Cutler's arguments and questioning, the answer always seems simple; albeit one that requires a lot of hard work.
It was just a few short weeks ago that something clicked in my mind that seemed to change the way I looked at everything around me. I'm not sure what event or series of events brought this on, but suddenly I was seeing the world from a different angle. I felt a little disoriented and lost for a bit but then something led me to pick up The Art of Happiness again and start reading. But, instead of beginning from page one, I simply picked up the book and started reading the section about "Self Created Suffering". That's when it all started to make sense. I read the lines,
"All too often we perpetuate our pain, keep it alive, by replaying our hurts over and over again in our minds, magnifying our injustices in the process." [page 150] "To a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation. ...Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation." [pages 151-152]" and I realized that I had somehow started making a conscious effort to stop making myself suffer. While it felt strange to not indulge in replaying my problems, over exaggerate the injustices in my life, and focus on the hardships I was facing, I started to realize that I was happier and more aware of how different events and exchanges really effected me and how I could change my reactions and lessen the negative feelings.
To make a long story short; I'm not perfect. I'm still very much a flawed individual and I am far from able to completely control my suffering; I have just taken that first step in the right direction, and there is still a long road ahead. But, each night as I sit reading another snippet from this book I see myself moving forward, little by little, towards a truer more complete happiness in my life. I am starting to live a more compassionate, loving life and paying closer attention to living in a way that brings me "true" happiness; not just simple pleasure or contentment.

I highly recommend this book to anyone; happy, sad, confused, lost, or even just curious. The Dalai Lama has an unassuming, simple way of looking at even some of the worst situations. And if you open your mind up enough, it's not that hard to read his words and say, "Yeah, that actually makes sense"

Love, Laughter and Happiness to all.

Photo Credit: Photo Bucket

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Something Fishy...

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are amazing for the body! They are good for heart and brain health and have been found to have a multitude of benefits ranging from helping with aging and arthritis, to depression and heart conditions.
But, many people don't get nearly enough, and many more are a little skittish when it comes to eating fish, due in part to a fear of mercury. But there are ways to get these essential fishy oils and still feel safe.
One alternative is to take fish oil capsules (found at your local health food store) and another is to eat fish that are deemed "safe" and "sustainable". According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium "Seafood Watch" program, here is a list of fish that are deemed safe for the California Area.

-Abalone (US Farmed)
-Artic Char (Farmed)
-Barramundi (US Farmed)
-Catfish (US Farmed)
-Clams, Mussels, Oysters (farmed)
-Cobia (US Farmed)
-Cod: Pacific (Alaska longline)
-Crab: Dungeness
-Halibut: Pacific
-Lobster: Spiny (US)
-Rockfish: Black (California or Orgeon) **it is recommended to limit consumption of this fish due to possible murcury
-Sablefish/Black Cod (Alaska, British Columbia)
-Salmon (Alaska wild)
-Sardines: Pacific (US)
-Scallops: Bay (Farmed)
-Shrimp: Pink (Oregon)
-Striped Bass (Farmed or Wild) **it is recommended to limit consumption of this fish due to possible murcury
-Tilapia (US Farmed)
-Trout: Rainbow (Farmed)
-Tuna: Albacore (troll/pole, US or British Columbia)
-Tuna: Skipjack (troll/pole)
-White Seabass

For more information on the "Seafood Watch" program and to view the entire list of fish; including those deemed "acceptable" and those marked as "unsafe", please visit this site.

For more information on the potential health benefits of Omega 3's and other health news, please visit Dr. Jonny Bowden's Blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!

Here's a recipe my mom and I tried for Double Chocolate Chip Cookies! They are gluten and dairy free and SUPER DUPER delicious!!!
We found this one in Babycakes: The Cookbook...which is an amazing cookbook from the Babycakes bakery in New York (and just recently opened in Los Angeles!!!). For more info, click here.

1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 1/4 Cups Evaporate Cane Juice
1/3 Cup homemade or store bought unsweetened applesauce
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free all purpose baking flour
1/4 Cup Flax Meal
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Teaspoons Xantham Gum
1 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.
Mix together oil, evaporated cane juice, applesauce, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. In another bowl whisk together flour, flax meal, baking soda and xantham gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine until a dough is formed then gently fold in the chocolate chips until they are evenly mixed.
Using a melon baller, scoop the dough onto prepared baking sheets, space 1 inch apart. Gently press each with the heel of your hand.
Bake cookies on center rack for 14 minutes; rotating sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes. Finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.
Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store cookies in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Organic vs. Non-Organic

Let's face it...often if you say organic to a budget savvy shopper they instantly think “more expensive”, which can be true. So, how do you save and still get many of the benefits of buying organic fruits and veggies? By knowing which fruits and vegetables retain the most pesticide residue and which retain almost none.
It's always good advice to thoroughly wash all your fruits and vegetables before consuming them; but for the fruits and veggis on our “Always Organic” list even washing isn't enough to protect yourself from the dangerous residual pesticides, which can leech into the actual food itself.

"Always Organic": In testing these fruits and vegetables showed the most pesticide residue and should therefore always be purchased organic.

-Sweet Bell Peppers
-Imported Grapes

“Non Organic”: In testing, these fruits and vegetables showed little to no pesticide residue and therefore are pretty safe to go Non-organic if you want.

-Sweet Corn
-Sweet Peas

For more detailed information on pesticides and organics you can visit

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pie...without "sugar", dairy or wheat!

Can it be done?!?! Yes it can folks...we made this little treat for Thanksgiving dinner this year and it was a hit! Topped with fresh Cashew whipped cream! Yum Yum!



1-1/2 cups almond flour
3 tablespoons coconut oil or non dairy butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Mix ingredients, and flatten the dough into a round disk between two pieces of plastic wrap. Gently roll out the dough to an 11 inch round.

2. Put the dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate till firm.

3. Invert it onto a pie pan and press in place.

4. Bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees F. (this might need adjusting if using coconut) until light brown in color.

5. Cool, then fill.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

3 eggs

¾ cup of sugar (you can substitute with Stevia***see conversion chart at bottom for amount)

½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of salt

2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree

Blend 1 1/2 cup of soy or rice milk with 1/2 cup of melted dairy free margarine or oil (we like extra light olive oil for cooking)

Preheat the oven to 375

Beat the eggs with the sugar (or sub) then add the spices and salt. Stir in the pumpkin puree and then the "milk and oil" mixture. Warm the mixture in a medium saucepan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is hot to the touch. Do not boil

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour this mixture into the crust and bake 30 to 40 mins, until the mixture shakes like Jell-O but is still quite moist. Coll on a rack and serve warm or at room

Sugar amount

Equivalent Stevia powdered extract

Equivalent Stevia liquid concentrate

1 cup

1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 teaspoon

6 to 9 drops

1 teaspoon

A pinch to 1/16 teaspoon

2 to 4 drops

The ABC's of Luminous Living

Always love yourself
-Love yourself unconditionally before you can truly love others.
-It's all about the diaphragm people! Be sure to breathe deeply everyday!
-It's as simple as sharing a smile with a stranger; but as essential as the air we breathe. As the Dalai Lama once said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
"D" (The Vitamin)
-Most of us are Vitamin D deficient...all it takes is 15 minutes a day in the sun (before noon or after 2 p.m.) with no sunscreen, to get your daily dose.
-We are made up of energy. It is the essence of our beings and an important role in our health and well being.
-It's actually good for you. Depending on the type of fat, there are some that are "essential" to our diets.
-IT IS A GLUE!!! Get it out of your diet! (We won't lie...it's can be tricky, did you know there is gluten in many french fries?)
-Do we really need to explain this one? I mean, who doesn't want to be happy?
Inner Balance
-If our bodies/minds/spirits are a little wobbly it can make our lives a little off kilter as well
Juice and Tea
-Homemade juices (the kind without added sugar and preservatives) and a variety of green, white and herbal teas do wonderful things for your body, taste great and are a whole lot healthier than soda!
-"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Leo Buscaglia
-Love is the universal force that binds us together (not the mushy romantic soppy movie kind; the universal "love they fellow man" kind). It is essential to love, in order to practice kindness, compassion and caring in order to be happy.
-You should have one every day! (just kidding...) Seriously though...get out there and MOVE!!! Walking, stretching, yoga, running, jumping, dancing; whatever you fancy, just be sure and move a little everyday!
-If it's created in a lab...it might not be the best thing for you. Try using the gifts mother nature has already given us.
-Would you like a little apple with your fly spray? What goes on your food can end up in your tummy...steer clear of the chemicals.
-The Breath of Life...the art of Yoga Breathing.
Quiet time and Meditation
-With all the chaos in modern day life; it's important to even take just 15 minutes a day to recenter and recharge.
-Respect for yourself and others.
Sugar (and it's alternatives)
-Stay away from the refined stuff (give evaporated cane juice a go)...and for a sweet kick without going the traditional sugar route, try looking into Agave, Stevia, and Xylitol.
-Trust is one of the pillars of healthy relationships. Relationships that can add value and beauty to our lives.
Underlying Causes
-Dig deeper!!! When it comes to your health, finding the causes behind symptoms can be more beneficial than just treating the symptoms.
-You know those things your mom insisted you eat before leaving the table. They actually are pretty yummy and there's all kinds to choose from. Try roasting them, making a fresh salad, or even eating them raw. Veggies are your friend!
Whole Foods
-The less processing, packaging, and preservatives the better! Try making things from scratch...your body will be much happier!
-Get out there and live life!!! That's what it's all about!
-Exercise for the body, mind, and spirit!
-Let's all get enlightened!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What is Luminous Living?

When we are born, our life energy shines from within us like a brilliant light. Babies are born with the innate knowledge of how to best nurture that light; through deep diaphragm breathing, sleeping as their bodies need it, expressing emotions as they feel them, eating as their bodies tell them to, etc. etc. etc. As we grow and learn from society around us, we begin to forget that initial wisdom and can do things that begin to dim our inner light. Every time we drink a soda or eat junk food, skip breakfast, neglect to exercise, or engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices that light gets dimmer. Luminous living is about making the healthy choices in life that repair damage done, to bring back light that was lost and be the brightest we can be. It's about eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining balance in spirit and emotion. Luminous living is about making our lights shine their very brightest.