Tag Archives: nutrition

Vegan Baking – Without Dairy or Eggs (W/Bonus Recipe)

Most of us have a sweet tooth, and especially a weakness for baked goods. The problem is for many vegans, it’s tough working baked sweets into our diet, because dairy and eggs are found in most recipes for cakes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies and even such items as pancakes and waffles.

The good news is it’s not that hard to substitute eggs and dairy in baking. Here are some recommendations.


Milk is commonly used to add liquid and fat content to a baked recipe. Unless you are making whipped cream, milk isn’t all that important to the structure of most baked goods and it’s quite easy to substitute.

Any dairy milk can easily be substituted with non-dairy milks in baking. Common alternatives are soy, almond, cashew, rice and coconut milk. Good to keep in mind: soymilk tends to be sweeter than dairy milk, and full-fat coconut milk can be a bit creamier than regular whole milk.

Non-dairy milks can quickly be used to make a buttermilk substitute. Suppose you need 1 cup “buttermilk”; here’s how you would make it: Place 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough non-dairy milk (of your choosing) until it reaches the 1-cup line; stir with a fork or whisk. Allow mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes. Voila, you have your vegan buttermilk! The juice/vinegar adds a flavor similar to buttermilk and also curdles the milk allowing it to become slightly thicker. Just as with its dairy counterparts, non-dairy milks with higher fat content will create thicker buttermilk.

An easy way to substitute heavy whipped cream is by using full-fat coconut milk. Simply chill the can overnight and remove the separated solid cream. Using a mixer, whip the solid cream on high with a ¼ cup to ½ cup of powdered sugar (depending on the sweetness desired). The coconut milk cream will become firm and hold stiff peaks, just like whipped heavy cream.

Solid fats like butter and margarine are sometimes integral to things like puff pastry, pie crust, shortbread, croissants, Danish pastries and certain cakes.  If you’re lucky your local supermarket or health food store will carry Earth Balance Products (look for buttery sticks and buttery spreads). Although it is possible to make your own vegan butter, just go to this site.


The function of using eggs when baking is to contribute to structure and incorporate air when beaten. Some surprising ingredients can be used to replace eggs and still provide firmness. For whole eggs there are a number of great options here.

  • A banana can be used in place of 2 eggs.
  • Mixing 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, and leaving the mixture to sit for 5 minutes will create a jelly-like substance known as a flax egg, a great substitute in baking.
  • ¼ cup plain mashed potatoes can also be to replace one egg in a recipe.
  • ¼ cup of pureed pumpkin can stand in for a single egg in baking, depending on the flavor of your recipe. ¼ cup of non-dairy yogurt can be a healthy substitute for a single egg in baked goods.
  • Tofu is a great option in recipes that call for several eggs. Whip or blend soft tofu and use ¼ cup of the mixture to replace each egg.
  • EnerG Egg Replacer is an awesome store bought mix (also available online) and my favorite egg substitute. This product can be used in almost all recipes where eggs are needed with great success.

Bonus Recipe – Vegan Chocolate Cake

For the cake:

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (you may substitute warm coffee for this)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar

For the glaze

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons margarine or vegan butter substitute
  • 2 Tablespoons soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Prepare the Cake. Preheat oven to 350F (177C). In an 8 x 8 inch square pan, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a fork. Add the water or coffee, vanilla extract, vegetable oil and vinegar. Mix the ingredients together. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
  • Prepare the Glaze. In a small saucepan bring the sugar, margarine, soy milk and cocoa powder to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat and stir an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Glaze the Cake. Pour the glaze onto cake and let it cool for one hour.

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Dining Out – A Vegan guide”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Eliminating Dairy from Your Diet (W/Bonus Recipe)

There are tons of health and ethical reasons to avoid dairy products. Looking at the health side, countless people who’ve quit dairy discovered that their chronic congestion, digestive problems, ear and other upper-respiratory infections, acne and other issues that compromised their optimal health disappeared within a few weeks. Consider going completely dairy-free for a month and see how significantly your quality of life improves.

Nutritionally speaking, dairy is pretty much bad news everywhere you look. Nearly half of the calories in whole milk come from fat, and almost all of its carbohydrates come from sugar, all in the form of lactose, to which many people are intolerant and can’t properly digest. Even worse, the fat in dairy products is every bit as saturated as the fat in beef and most other meat products. Additionally, dairy has absolutely no fiber and no iron. And if all that weren’t enough, you might wonder why the FDA refuses to answer the question about the amount of pus (a buildup of dead leukocytes, aka white blood cells) in dairy products.

Looking at the ethical side, most commercial dairy cows are never allowed to graze outdoors; they’re confined to cramped stalls on factory farms. Although a cow is meant to live about twenty years, practically all dairy cows are sent to slaughter before they turn five because the overall milk production of aging cows can’t come close to that of a younger animals. Commercial dairy cows are impregnated every year in order to maximize their milk production, and their calves are commonly sold to the veal industry. So if you, like more and more people every day, are opposed to this type of inhumane treatment; they’re chained at the neck so they can’t turn around or move more than a step forward or backward. All they can do is stand up and lie down. This is done so that they don’t develop muscles so that their meat stays very tender. These young calves never get to play or graze or feel the sunshine on their backs, or be with their mothers. They spend their entire lives in the dark in little stalls until they’re big enough to be killed and turned into veal; usually around 16 weeks old (about 4 months).

For detailed information about the dairy industry’s cruel farming practices, see Jonathan Safran Foer’s awesome book Eating Animals.

Also, A highly recommended documentary, "The Perils of Dairy"

How to Go Dairy-Free:

If the idea of suddenly removing all dairy products from your diet seems daunting, try easing into it.  Make a note of the dairy products you currently consume: chances are that there a few such foods you love, but a dozen or so others you might eat regularly but you’re not really crazy about. So, get rid of all the ones you can do without and you’re more than halfway to being dairy-free! But the real key to success in eliminating dairy from your diet involves not as much cutting them out, but instead, replacing them with superior non-dairy alternatives.  And luckily, there are all sorts of non-dairy products on on today’s market shelves that are truly great tasting and healthy:

  • Butter: "Earth Balance" and "Soy Garden" are excellent vegan alternatives.
  • Yogurt: Made from soy, coconut and almond milks, various vegan brands available.
  • Milk: Soy, rice, almond, coconut, and even hemp seed milks are becoming widely available, not only at natural food stores but also at many supermarkets.
  • Cheese: There are several non-dairy cheeses on the market, but always check the label for casein or sodium caseinate.  Casein is a milk protein that is used in some soy cheeses. Happily, two of the best non-dairy cheeses, "Daiya" and "Wayfare," are vegan. Both brands are widely available in the United States. Also, try “Go Veggie” vegan Parmesan cheese alternative.
  • Ice Cream: There are a number of excellent brands made from non-dairy milks currently on the market. “So Delicious,” “Purely Decadent” and “Tufutti” make vegan versions of many delicious ice cream products, and you won’t even be able to tell the difference! Plus don’t forget about sorbets, which tend to be vegan (check the label) and are lighter and often more flavorful than ice cream.
  • Cream Cheese and Sour Cream: Once again, there are vegan alternatives. “Follow Your Heart,” “Daiya” and “Tofutti” make superb vegan versions of cream cheese and sour cream, which are available at many natural food stores and supermarkets. 
  • Mayonnaise: There are also several vegan brands of mayonnaise, including a wonderful and widely-distributed product called “Vegenaise.”.
  • Coffee Creamer: Now there’s no need to put dairy cream products in your coffee: "So Delicious" and "Silk" are two companys that make vegan creamers that blend perfectly into coffee.

Bonus recipe! Fettuccini Alfredo, the vegan recipe everyone thought was impossible, and WOW, is it ever good!


  • 8-10 ounces pasta (fettuccini, linguini, spaghetti or fusilli)
  • 3 Tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 small shallot (or onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 4 Tbsp. all purpose flour (slightly rounded)
  • 2 cups (420 – 480 ml) unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 Tbsp (20-30 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup “Go Veggie” vegan parmesan cheese (plus more – reserved for topping)
  • 1 cup canned green peas (if frozen, cook al dente)
  • Red Pepper Flake (reserved)
  • 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance (reserved)


1. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, shallot and garlic, stirring quickly to ensure it doesn’t burn.

2. Next, reduce heat slightly and add 4 Tbsp. flour and whisk to combine. Cook for about a minute and then add almond milk 1/4 cup at a time (adding 1 3/4 cups total, working up to 2 cups) and whisk to prevent clumps. Cook for 2 minutes.

3. Transfer to a blender and add salt, pepper, vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed – you want it to be pretty cheesy and salty so don't be shy.

4. Add pasta to a large pot of boiling, well-salted water and cook according to package instructions. Drain and cover to prevent drying.

5. Return sauce back to skillet and cook on medium heat until it bubbles, then reduce heat to low and cook until thickened, stirring frequently.

6. If sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. If too thin, scoop out some sauce in a 1/2 cup measuring cup and whisk in 1-2 tsp. arrowroot flour. Whisk to combine and add back to sauce. Repeat as needed until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust (if necessary).

7. Once sauce is ready, add pasta, cooked peas, Earth Balance and toss. Cook for 1-2 minutes to warm through, and then serve with additional vegan parmesan cheese and red pepper flake.

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Vegan Baking – Without Dairy or Eggs”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Vegan Nutrition – Addressing Your Concerns…

In the last few years, vegetarian diets have rapidly increased in popularity. A sufficient vegetarian diet is directly related with many health benefits because of its higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and numerous phyto-chemicals, phyto-nutrients and a fat content that is considerably less saturated. Going one step further, vegans commonly choose a plant-based diet for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world.

When compared with most vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain even less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber. This results in vegans generally becoming thinner, having lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, further reducing their risk of heart disease. That’s good news! However, eliminating all animal products from the diet may increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies unless vegans take certain precautions. After all, there are plenty of crappy foods that would fall under the vegan category, (Fritos, Pop-tarts, Oreos, Potatoe Chips and a seemingly unending list of "junk" foods), and these have become the mainstay for the typical American diet. So, nutritional deficiencies can exist in both camps and it is safe to say that vegans consume foods with a higher nutritional value as long as they don't fall prey to certain indulgences and follow a few obvious guidelines. 

The micronutrients that are of special concern for vegans often include vitamins B-12, D, and long-chain (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that contain or are fortified with these nutrients, supplements should be considered. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.

Let’s address each of these vitamins and minerals that could be deficient in a vegan diet, detailing non-animal sources:

  • Vitamin B12 – This is especially important for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children, they need to have reliable sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Numerous vegan foods are fortified with B12, but sometimes companies change their methods, so always read labels carefully (or write to the companies). Many nutritional yeast products (not to be mistaken with brewer’s yeast) are fortified with vitamin B12. Tempeh, miso, and seaweed are known to have large amounts of vitamin B12; however, these foods are not always reliable sources of the vitamin because the bioavailability of vitamin B12 is questionable depending on the type of processing the food undergoes. Other sources of vitamin B12 are fortified non-dairy milks (check the label), vitamin B12-fortified meat substitutes and alternatives.
  • Vitamin D – This vitamin is not found in the vegan diet, but it can be made by humans with exposure to sunlight. At least ten to fifteen minutes of sun on hands and face two to three times a week is recommended for adults so that natural vitamin D production can occur. Food sources include vitamin D-fortified non-dairy milk. Vitamin D is also added to foods such as fortified juices and fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – In order to maximize production of DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids), vegans should include good sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in their diets; sources include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, tofu, soybeans, and walnuts. For some vegans ALA does not efficiently convert into the other two more beneficial types of omega-3s (DHA & EPA). Since fish oil (a no-no for vegans) is a rich source of these types of omega 3s, to insure adequate amounts of DHE and EPA are included in the vegan diet there are omega-3 supplements made from algae, one of nature's original sources of EPA and DHA. These are readily available online if they can’t be found at your local health food store.
  • Iron – Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.
  • Zinc – Vegan diets can provide zinc at levels close to or even higher than the RDA. Zinc is found in amost all grains, legumes, and nuts.

*One last subject of concern: “The protein myth…” Should you believe the hype about vegetarians and vegans being deficient in protein intake? This is almost a joke! Why, because it’s ridiculously easy for a vegan diet to meet all the recommendations for protein by simply maintaining adequate calorie intake. Strict planning or food combining is not necessary to insure ample protein intake. The key for vegans is to eat a varied diet.

Almost all plant-based foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Vegan sources include: Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), tofu, tempeh, seitan, peanut butter, non-dairy milks, almonds, mushrooms, rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, etc.) and the list goes on. Additionally, store-bought meat substitute products and veggie burgers are also quite high in protein!

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Eliminating Dairy from Your Diet”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products

One of the trickiest aspects of vegan (plant-based) cooking is finding substitutes for animal products and this applies to both the novice vegan cook and someone who has been doing it for a while. The good news is that it can be fun (and quite rewarding) to over-turn those long-held traditions when it comes to cooking and baking using cruelty free products and getting results that are just as good tasting and looking and usually healthier than their animal-saturated versions. Here’s a list of some common vegan substitutes that have worked well for me – listed by groups of the animal ingredients they replace:

*1 EGG (To replace more than one, just multiply):

  • 1 Tbsp. of ground flax meal + 3 Tbsp. of water. Very good for baked breads, cakes, cookies and muffins.
  • 1/4 cup tofu. Best to blend the tofu so it is smooth before using it, otherwise you might not be able to break up all the lumps. Tofu works especially well in quiches, pancakes and pastas. With a little turmeric added it is also a great replacement for scrambled egg dishes.
  • 1/2 banana. Only use banana when you want the recipe to be banana-flavored, as in banana cake.
  • 1/4 cup applesauce. Applesauce also makes a baked good really moist, allowing you to cut down on fat in the recipe. It works great in carrot cake.
  • Commercial powder substitutes like EnerG Egg Replacer Read the package instructions for correct measurements.

* MILK (With all the alternatives available, there is really no excuse to use dairy milk):

  • Soymilk
  • Rice Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Hazelnut Milk
  • Cashew Milk

*YOGURT (Yogurt substitutes work great in Indian foods like call for yogurt):

  • 1 cup silken tofu blended with 2 tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp salt = 1 cup yogurt, (use more or less lemon juice if you don’t want the yogurt to be too acidic.)
  • Coconut milk yogurt, Almond milk yogurt and Soy milk yogurt are becoming popular commercial yogurts. Commercial soy yogurts are also available in the United States as well as other parts of the world.) Look in the regular refrigerator aisle alongside regular yogurt.

*1 CUP BUTTERMILK (Buttermilk substitutes can be used in any recipe that calls for it, including cupcakes, pancakes and “southern-style” biscuits):

  • 1 cup soymilk or almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar (you can use any vinegar on hand, but the best is apple cider. Mix and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.)

*1 TBSP. BUTTER (Butter substitutes, like milk and yogurt substitutes, replace the bad cholesterol with healthy fats that are better for you. But be cautioned, vegan fats also contain the same number of calories as animal fats, so don’t overdo the use of fats of any kind.):

  • 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine or “butter” (I find Earth Balance is the best)
  • 1 Tbsp. flavorless oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (Crisco is a substitute for lard, and it's vegan; but it is basically 100% transfat).


  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional (good tasting) yeast (aka “nooch” – it’s packed with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein)
  • 1 tsp. miso. (Use instead of salt and in place of cheese in pestos and soups. You can add it to quiches, sauces, etc. Always add miso toward the end of cooking, since heating miso can kill its wonderful enzymes).


  • 1 Tbsp. cashew cream (blend cashews with enough water to keep blender blades running)
  • 1 Tbsp. almond cream (blend blanched almonds with enough water to keep blades running)


  • There are commercial brands of vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream (like Tofutti) that taste and act similar to the originals.


  • 1 Tbsp. agar agar flakes or powder.


  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar (Delicious in almost any baked good. Agave nectar also has a low glycemic index and makes a healthy sugar substitute)

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Stocking Your Vegan Kitchen (A Basic List)”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Veganism – Getting Started

Adding love and compassion to your life with a plant-based diet is not as hard as you might think.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “every journey begins with the first step.” And that first step is prompted by desire. There are many reasons to transition to a vegan lifestyle and everyone’s reason is going to be slightly different. A large percentage of vegans believe that there is a solid link between animal foods and a host of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer and hypertension for example. Some people adapt a plant-based diet because they simply love animals and don’t want to be a repository for their corpses. There are other reasons like the environment, religion, weight loss and the list goes on. Whatever particular reason you choose, you will inevitably end up widening the circle of compassion in this world. Your mind and body will soar to new levels health and well-being.

George Bernard Shaw: “Animals are my friends…and I don't eat my friends.”

When starting off, don’t try to be a perfect vegan, just do the best you can. Every day it gets a little bit easier. With a little time and experimentation you’ll find a strategy that works for you. If you’re one of those rare individuals that feels eliminating all meat, fish, and dairy foods all at once works for you, then do it. If you need more time to adjust to a vegan diet, just take it slowly and start eliminating non-vegan items from your diet every day (or week). Make changes that you feel comfortable with, at your own pace. Some start by giving up red meat and fowl but continue eating fish (Pescatarian). Others give up fish in addition to meat and poultry but continue to consume dairy products and eggs (lacto-ovo Vegetarian).

For many people it helps to network with other vegans through blogs, web sites etc. You will soon learn much from the vegan community and will become a more informed consumer.

Stay away from processed foods, fast foods and avoid ingredients like hydrogenated/trans fats and refined sugars. Read labels, some companies remove the word “animal” from their ingredient labels to deceive the consumer. A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t know what it is, or if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

It’s not all hard to eat out at non-vegan restaurants if you’re a little selective. It just takes some time to learn what to order and adjust. Some restaurants now inform their customers that they’re “vegan friendly.” Quite a few restaurants will accommodate you and cook your veggies etc. without dairy or lard. It’s not always a good idea to proclaim you’re vegan because there’s still a lot of people that don’t understand that. Simply tell them you’re vegetarian and allergic to dairy (milk, butter & eggs). They’re more likely to take your request seriously if you say you have an allergy.

The best food you can eat is the food you prepare for yourself. Although some people are challenged to find sufficient time or energy to cook, but when they can, look at cooking as creative time. Put on some appropriate music, have fun and create. Whenever possible set some time aside during the week to make some vegan “go to” options. These will come in handy at a later date when you’re tired or short on time. Cooked grains last quite a few days in the refrigerator (like rice, quinoa & farro). Add a quick stir-fry to them or make a cold salad with cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. Learn to sprout seeds (alfalfa, lentil seeds and mung beans are easy). Consider starting a small indoor herb garden, growing cilantro, basil and rosemary are popular choices and are simple to grow.

Mindfulness is one of the most important things a vegan can practice. Mindfulness itself can and will change your life and the way you eat. Never eat in front of a computer screen or television set. Instead sit somewhere quietly or with family or friends and enjoy the food. The practice of mindfulness, combine with eating slowly will help you eat less and enjoy food more. You will also find yourself practicing mindfulness in other areas of your life.

Remind yourself daily that the key to kicking meat and dairy is giving yourself enough time to feel the wonderful and extraordinary changes as they take place in your mind and body.

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Your Body’s pH – Is It Acid or Alkaline?

So what exactly is ph? pH stands for “potential hydrogen” which is the measure of hydrogen ion concentration, i.e.; the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. In our particular case, that “solution” refers to our body’s fluids and tissues. Everything, from the healthiest cells to malignant cancer cells, from soil quality to fresh and sea water life is affected by pH.

The pH scale is used to determine how acidic or alkaline a substance is and ranges from 0 to 14. Seven is considered neutral. As that scale falls below 7 it becomes increasingly acidic, above 7 increasingly alkaline.

Just as is the case with most health-related barometers, balance is extremely important. Ideal pH levels vary throughout our body for a number of reasons. For instance, our bowels, skin and a woman’s vagina should be slightly acidic, as this helps ward off unfriendly bacteria. Saliva is more alkaline; while our urine is normally more acidic, especially in the morning. Additionally, your body regularly deals with a host of naturally occurring acids that are the by-products of respiration, metabolism, cellular breakdown, and even exercise. So it’s best to resist the temptation to think of acid as “bad” and alkaline “good”. As always, it’s a delicate balance.

By far the most important bodily measurement of pH is you blood. For optimal cellular health, our blood pH must be slightly alkaline, ideally with a pH between 7.365 and 7.4. A general understanding of how our bodies maintain an alkaline blood range is essential for good health. Our body doesn’t automatically “find” the proper pH balance; it works exceedingly hard to create it. Whenever we make poor lifestyle choices or are burdened by a toxic, chemical laden environment, our bodies will have to work harder to create homeostasis (or the tendency to maintain its pH’s stability).

Whenever there’s even the remotest possibility that our body is about to become overly acidic (as a result of poor food and/or lifestyle choices, toxic environmental exposure, etc.) this remarkable body of ours will extract alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium from our bones, teeth, and organs to neutralize the acids. It’s a bit like having a supply of inner or internal antacids. This may be okay every now and then, but stressing or depleting our reserves over the long term can lead to osteoporosis and other assorted health challenges.

Think of the average or standard American diet (SAD). Most Americans are flooding their cells with an inflammatory acid bath multiple times every day (tons of sugar, processed foods, factory farmed animal products, etc.). One of the biggest casualties of this type of diet is the toll it takes on the body, especially the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. Conditions like inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, constipation, bowel issues, stress (both physical & mental) and chronic disease simple love an acidic diet. Excess acidity also sets the stage for bad bacteria (including yeasts and fungus) and even viruses all of which wreak havoc on our health.

Shifting the pH scale in the alkaline direction is easy with a diet filled with nutritionally dense, mineral-rich plant foods. By eating an alkaline based diet (leafy greens, wheatgrass, spirulina, veggies, sprouts, avocados, green juices and smoothies) as opposed to an acidic diet (high in animal products, processed carbs, refined sugar, energy drinks, etc), we nourish our bodies with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and oxygen. Healthy food creates healthy cells, whereas junk food does the opposite.

Check out this handy alkaline/acid food chart, click on: https://www.wakingtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Alkaline-Acid-Foods-Chart.jpeg

Tip: Watch this short video on the “9 Benefits of Warm Water & Lemon in the Morning.” Click on: https://youtu.be/zzagCLz5VZU

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health

Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health

Eating like a king!

If you are among those people who are looking for the optimal diet that will make you look and feel younger, lose unwanted pounds, prevent disease and live a happy, healthy and long life, you are not alone. No need for any expensive and exotic supplements either, the answer is quite simple. Adapting a nutritious plant-based diet is not only easier than you think, it’s delicious and will do wonders for your overall health while it trims down your waistline and your wallet.

Research has conclusively shown that people following a plant-based diet weigh less, have fewer chronic diseases and live longer than their animal-product eating counterparts. Multiple scientific studies have found that vegans/vegetarians are still slimmer than meat eaters despite consuming the same amount or more calories every day. An additional benefit of plant-based eating is that plant foods are generally less expensive than animal products. And that’s not counting the costly medical treatments needed for the various chronic diseases caused by the typical American animal-based diet. Everyone can also feel good about adhering to a plant-based eating regime because it is better for the environment and animal welfare.

Fruits and Vegetables are the Kings and Queens of a Plant-based Diet

Regardless of what you eat, fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of your diet. Fruits are a near perfect source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and water. Vegetables contain some of the most potent anti-cancer foods and are extremely nutrient-dense, which means more nutrients and fewer calories. It is nearly impossible to overeat if you’re eating only vegetables. Using broccoli as an example, you’d have to eat 22 cups of raw broccoli florets to get the same amount of calories found an average T-bone steak. And as far as protein goes, most people would think broccoli contains little or no protein. Wrong! Calorie for calorie broccoli contains about 75% as much protein as beef – According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Nutrient Data Laboratory database, 100 calories of broiled beef, top sirloin steak has exactly 11.08 grams of protein and 100 calories of chopped, raw broccoli has exactly 8.29.

Fresh is always best, but frozen or properly prepared canned fruits and veggies are also healthy, as long as they are not covered heavy sauces, syrups or oils. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in unlimited quantities, including a broad range of colors, textures and flavors.

Whole grains, nuts and seeds are also included in a healthy plant-based diet. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, carbohydrate and protein. Products made from 100 percent whole wheat, along with rice, corn, millet, sorghum, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, spelt and are all examples of healthy whole grain foods. Various nuts and seeds are some of nature’s best ways to consume healthy fats. A handful a day will provide all the necessary fat-soluble vitamins; without the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal foods.

A note of caution: Eating a plant-based/vegan diet (no animal products) doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy diet, despite what many believe. It is possible to be on a completely plant-based diet and still be eating unhealthy foods. For example, you could eat French fries every day or lots of white bread, rice or pasta and you would not reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. Plus there are tons of “junk,” processed and adulterated foods that are totally plant based. Fried foods are a good example, even though an onion is a healthy cancer-fighting plant food, eating deep fried onion rings do more harm to the body than good. Many potato chips often contain more artery-clogging saturated fat than potato. It’s also important to avoid refined carbohydrate products like cakes, pastries, candies, cookies, which generally contain added sugars. Also avoid all drinks with high sugar content and especially those that contain artificial sweeteners. These types of foods have often been so highly processed that it’s difficult to recognize the original plants or plant foods that they came from. Finally, steer clear of trans-fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils they are unhealthy and are easily stored as fat in the body.

Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health


In summary: Eat plants and plant-based products exclusively. If you stick to that, you’re likely to be very healthy. And if you’re like most people who are transitioning to a vegan diet there’s probably plenty of things you might feel you just can’t give up. But the truth is you can, just do one food type at a time, try going a week, and after that week you may decide to go two or three weeks and after a month or so your body and appetites will adjust and you may find you won’t miss it at all. This will give your taste bud a chance to change, and given ample time; change they will.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500

Five Ancient Yoga Secrets for the ULTIMATE Beauty Treatment

Everyone wants to look and feel their best and this is only natural. The secret yoga has to offer is…You don’t have to spend a lot of time and/or money or subject yourself to painful cosmetic procedures to radiate your inherent, natural beauty. Here are five well-kept yoga secrets to help you to enjoy optimal health and beauty.

#1. Practice yoga asanas to nourish your body, mind and soul, including every gland and organ in your body, giving you youthful energy and vitality. Yoga asanas are a powerful exercise for making you stronger and more flexible, but also for enhancing your personal beauty and youthful appearance in many ways:

    • – Asana practice balances the delicate hormones that control nearly every function in your body, boosting the health of your skin and hair.
    • – Asana practice rejuvenates tired internal organs by improving blood circulation and increasing lymphatic drainage.
    • – Inverted asanas bring fresh oxygenated blood to your head and face, improving skin and muscle tone.
    • – Asana practice firms and tones your muscles, helping to keep them supple and flexible.
    • – Asana practice improves your coordination and balance, leading to graceful posture and gait.

#2. Meditation and yogic relaxation techniques give you an inner peace that is both attractive and magnetic.

Sweet smiles are always alluring, whether it’s coming from a young person or an old person, a tall person or a short person, it doesn’t matter. But stress is hard to avoid in our society and too much stress makes it difficult to feel relaxed and peaceful. Make it a point to take a time-out every day to meditate so that you may experience the inner peace that helps to transcend the stresses of modern day life. Yogic meditation is a powerful method for inducing a deep sense of inner peace and relaxation.

#3. Following a plant-based (Vegan) diet is a must for any natural beauty program.

The benefits of plant nutrients and their powers are proudly proclaimed on nearly every skin and hair care product, and for good reason. Plants are loaded with wonderful rejuvenating properties that will enhance your natural beauty and longevity. However, instead of just focusing how the power of plants work on the outside, consider the importance of nourishing your whole body from the inside. A plant-based diet keeps you feeling vibrant, young and beautiful for many years to come. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts and seeds, provide all the balanced nutrition you need for radiant natural beauty, and they do this without weighing you down. The ancient science of yoga also teaches that a vegetarian/vegan diet is more compassionate (Ahimsa), allowing you to care for other living beings while still caring for yourself.

#4. Drink fresh juices to nourish your body from the inside out, promoting a healthy natural glow.

There is no commercial beauty product can give you the natural radiant glow that comes from nourishing your body down to the cellular level. Freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices are a potent source of quality nutrition for each and every cell in your body, providing them with an ample supply of enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you practice juicing regularly, you will notice significant improvement in the texture and quality of your skin and hair. Your energy will rise to new levels and you will begin to crave nourishing, wholesome foods instead of unhealthy ones. Drinking fresh juice is one of the most easiest and most effective ways to jump-start your own personal natural beauty program.

#5. Plain and simple, all-natural (and homemade) beauty products add the final touch, complimenting any natural beauty program.

Imagine spreading something on your face that you can also pack for lunch. There are tons of reasons why making your own homemade beauty recipe is smarter than splurging on a commercial product. But thankfully, even if you’re not into making your own, there are many bath and beauty products available that contain all-natural, cruelty-free (no animal testing) ingredients. These products are not only better for you, they’re better for the environment too. Many common store-bought beauty products contain chemical ingredients that are not good for you (they may even be toxic over the long term) or cause allergic reactions. So make your own or read labels and stick with the brands that emphasize natural purity and safety.

*Of related interest, click on: You Too Can Apply The Ultimate Beauty Treatment

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

Yoga, Ayurveda and Whole-Foods

Both yoga and Ayurveda (the Indian Science of Healing) were inspired and developed by the great sages of ancient India, well over 5000 years ago. They were also both created to keep the body and mind strong, allowing students and practitioners to focus on what they considered their most important function, that of discovering the true Self and finding their true purpose in life. Although both these sciences are very old, neither one can be called “primitive.” Their advice is founded mostly on common sense, and has much to teach us about finding harmony and balance in the busy world we live in today.

Yoga happens to be the only science that has placed great emphasis on food, and it has done so for many centuries. There is actually a whole branch of yoga (called “Anna Yoga”) that is devoted to eating those foods that promote health and happiness.

Over these many centuries yoga has continued to develop a concept of a balanced whole-foods diet and an eating philosophy that stays current with changing times. These well established principles of good eating apply powerful techniques which are meant to help in creating and maintaining a strong, healthy body, a stress-free mind and a positive spirituality while living in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Never before has this yogic philosophy of a balanced whole-foods diet been more befitting than today when over 96% of all chronic illnesses and other health disorders can be traced directly to a diet insufficient in nutrition. Studies have shown that Indian civilizations (in the East) suffer less than Westerners from bowel problems, constipation, and indigestion plus a host of other food related disorders such as obesity. And the reason is because the Indian philosophy of cooking and eating draws heavily from the Ayurvedic and yogic philosophy of eating!

Ideally we should choose foods that are:

·         Whole-foods in their most simple form possible,

·         In season and as close to their source as possible,

·         Unprocessed, chemical and additive free,

·         In bulk and not pre-packaged.

Shopping for foods that we know are fresh and unprocessed is easier if we take as much of a hands-on approach in this process as possible.  It’s always preferable to buy from farm stands and farmer’s markets, where we can meet the people that have grown the produce, which is often picked or harvested that same day.

Eating those foods that are both balancing and energizing will greatly aid and support us on the path of practice we have chosen to undertake.  The very best diet for yoga students and practitioners is based on whole-foods, which generally means simple, unadulterated and unprocessed foods.  Yogic cooking does not break-down foods into vitamins, minerals, protein, but rather demonstrates that the true benefits of whole-food ingredients can be had only when they are NOT isolated but are kept as true to their natural form as possible. Thus the key to optimal health and well-being is to have a balanced diet, one that ensures that all the faculties of the digestion process (absorption, assimilation and elimination) work efficiently and effectively.

It’s extremely important for us to realize that all 3 of these aspects (absorption, assimilation and elimination) work very well together, for when they work in harmony it’s very unlikely that we’ll suffer from chronic illnesses and all the many other health disorders (including obesity) that are epidemic in modern society today. “Synthetic” and/or “processed” foods (refined sugars, saturated fats/partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods, etc.) create conditions that disrupt this delicate balance, inevitably leading to numerous physical and psychological problems. Over time, the consequences can be dangerous and/or debilitating.

By being more discriminating and remaining consciously aware of how we feel in regard to the dietary choices we make, we’ll find those choices will start to become extremely supportive in our quest for optimal health, wellness and also a boon to our happiness.

Of related interest, click on the following…

Principles of Health and Natural Healing

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500


Yoga Helps Manage IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Let’s start with what irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) actually is and what causes it?

Contrary to common opinion IBS is not a disease; it is a group of symptoms that occur together. Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, meaning it is a problem caused by changes in how the GI tract works. The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort, often reported as cramping, along with diarrhea, constipation, or both. In the past, IBS was called colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, and spastic bowel. The name was changed to reflect the understanding that the disorder has both physical and mental causes and is not a product of a person’s imagination.

Anxiety may be primarily a mental health issue, but it is much more than that, anxiety and associated stress has a very real effect on your body chemistry. The stress from IBS changes your hormone production, alters your immune system, and for many, it upsets their digestive tract, which in turn causes more anxiety and stress; a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

So it should come as little surprise that anxiety is now being recognized as a contributing factor to the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as a chronic condition. The symptoms of which include; bloating, gastrointestinal discomforts, erratic bowel movements, chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation.

IBS is diagnosed when symptoms such as bloating, gastrointestinal discomforts, erratic bowel movements, chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation are present without a medical cause, and while scientists believe that there are likely a number of factors that go into IBS, most gastroenterologists agree that anxiety and stress are major contributors to its development.

Yoga to the rescue

For those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, yoga helps greatly to alleviate symptoms and keep stress in check. We all, at one time or another, have eaten something that “just doesn’t quite sit right.” But for the more than 30 million adults in the United States who suffer from IBS (two-thirds of whom are women) those awful symptoms are an ongoing struggle, not a temporary discomfort.

Of course, there are times when a particular food or an allergy triggers an episode, but generally no one factor can held responsible. IBS has frequently been dismissed as psychosomatic, but recently it has been redefined as “a disorder with variable symptoms having possible neurological, immunological, or psycho-emotional roots,” to quote Gary Kraftsow, the founder and wellness instructor of American Viniyoga Institute and author of Yoga for Transformation.

Because there is no known organic cause (or cure) for IBS, treatment generally focuses on symptom relief. Medications such as antidiarrheals, antispasmodics, or tricyclic antidepressants have been found to be helpful when symptoms become overwhelming. Yet research studies have shown that lifestyle modifications can be an effective drug-free method of dealing with the symptoms and easing the pain. A Mayo Clinic study in the reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (February, 1998) showed that exercise, diet, and stress management reduced IBS symptoms.

This is reason many experts recommend regular stress reduction exercise like yoga as a more effective way to prevent recurrences over the long run. “With IBS the goal is to reduce symptoms and restore efficient functioning to the system,” says Kraftsow. “And certain yoga postures may be restorative no matter where on the spectrum your symptoms lie.”

Abdominal breathing in particular has proven to be helpful in IBS sufferers and deep inhalations and exhalations may benefit those who tend to breathe shallowly when stressed or those who swallow air while eating and/or talking, which traps air in the stomach.

Most IBS sufferers often battle irregular bowel habits that are painful and unpredictable. During one of these flare-ups, Kraftsow recommends engaging postures that provide a soothing effect, suggesting forward bends and simple abdominal twists like Jathara Parivrtti (abdominal twist) and Apanasana (knees-to-chest pose); both of which may work to help soothe a hyperactive bowel or stimulate a sluggish one.

For those who suffer irregularity and constipation, digestion can be stimulated by working the abdominal area a bit more strongly with Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) or Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose); simple move into the postures with the stomach remaining held in after an exhalation.

Although yoga is one effective way to combat IBS, when symptoms recur, experts recommend a care plan that incorporates a diet that eliminates “aggravating foods” (especially fatty meats and dairy) and includes plenty of nutritionally balanced foods as well as probiotics (The best foods for IBS health are those that are gentle on the digestive system and encourage “smooth passage” through the intestines)…as Kraftsow says, “treatment that respects the whole person.”

Summary: In particular, yoga is an excellent (and enjoyable!) way to manage IBS and relieve it’s symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea etc. Yoga also helps stabilize the digestive process. Yoga is also tremendously beneficial for preventing or minimizing menstrual cramping, which often aggravates IBS.

For those people with IBS, yoga is perhaps the most helpful for its ability to reduce the stress, anxiety, and pain of this chronic illness. Regular practice will indisputably improve your physical and mental fitness, promoting relaxation, and giving you a sense of control over your overall health and well-being. As with other stress management techniques, the more you practice, the greater your improvement will be.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500