by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Have you ever had a job that wasn’t working out and you knew your days were numbered? I’ve been in that situation many, many times and the last time was back in 2009 when I was working for the provincial government. It was a good job in some respects but it was a hostile work environment also. I won’t go into the why’s and the who’s but I’d often come home quite upset and would waste my evenings and weekends rehashing the drama of the week in my mind. It’s one thing to think about work while you’re at work. It’s another thing to bring it home with you and think about it while you’re not working and not getting paid for it. Am I right?
Because of all of the unpleasantness in the office, I was trying to figure out a way to leave my job gracefully. I kept on going online to check out some schools and courses to upgrade my skills to help me launch a new career. It was my way of escaping reality ever so briefly. I knew there was something more for me but I didn’t know what that was. I had my eye on a massage school that I almost applied to many years before and kept on going back to the website on my lunch hours.
Then on one inspired weekend in August, I got an idea. Why not look at the textbooks of the programs I was interested in to see which subjects appealed to me most? Textbooks are notoriously boring — *hello insomniacs — and if you can read one subject with enthusiasm and pour over the pages as if they were the Legend of the Holy Grail, you know you’re on the right track. So I went to the University bookstore just as classes were starting for the year and found my section: HEALTH.
Among the dozen or so titles on the shelves, one book in particular jumped into my hands: Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists by Anne Williams. I loved the green clay masque on the woman’s back on the cover and thought, “I want to know how to do that!” I quickly flipped through the pages and decided to buy the book on the spot even though I wasn’t enrolled in any school. (I still feel a little bit guilty for buying a textbook from another student and I hope there were enough copies for everyone who needed one).
As it turned out, I got layed off from the government job a few short weeks later. But I didn’t end up going to massage school; I went to esthetics school instead. Funny how things work out. But my Spa Bodywork textbook still gets to live on the top shelf and I still give it credit for helping me turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.
Anyway, back to my old job that wasn’t a good fit for me. At that time, I wasn’t in the habit of doing any nurturing or pampering home spa treatments on myself even though I knew a thing or two about the subject. I wish I had been more kind to myself during that stressful time and that’s why I’m writing this post called, “It’s Footbath Friday.”
I’d like to encourage all of the people out there who are working hard at their jobs — especially if they’re not living the dream — to soak their weary feet in a footbath every Friday night. Start tonight. Pour yourself a glass of wine or make yourself a pot of tea and pop some popcorn. Then dip your feet in a lovely, warm and aromatic foot bath and you’ll be well on your way to a better mood. Footbaths are a perfect way to release the negativity from the past week. And then you won’t drag all of that B.S. into your weekend and you’ll be able to start work on the following Monday on a better foot, so to speak. Just relax and pour that tension down the drain and forget about it. Start the weekend fresh.
These days, I’m writing my own ebook and I plan on publishing it in a few months. For my research, I read the chapter on Ayurveda (a subject I became familiar with in esthetics school) in the Spa Bodywork textbook and I found some useful recipes for footbaths that were inspired by the Ayurvedic tradition that I’d like to pass on to you.
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old, traditional medicine system and philosophy from India that offers keys for creating harmony and balance in life. Many Western spas have adopted elements of Ayurveda into their spa treatments because of the focus on positive life choices, relaxation, exercise, detoxification and spirituality. In a nutshell, Ayurveda is based on the belief that everything in the universe is composed of 5 elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Specific combinations of the 5 elements form the 3 doshas which are: vata, pitta and kapha. Each individual is made up of a combination of all 5 elements and all 3 doshas and that formula or recipe, for lack of better words, will show up in their body type, mental and emotional disposition, and personality.
You can find out which dosha you favour the most by answering the questions on my Ayurvedic Questionnaire page on my website or Googling Ayurvedic quiz. I recommend Dr. Deepak Chopra’s website and Dosha Quiz for a quick response. Then you’ll know which footbath recipe below will be the most balancing and beneficial for you. Recognizing when you are out of balance and making choices to correct the imbalances will keep you healthy and will keep stress and disease at bay.
Vata Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 217) (Infinity and Air elements)
“(Using herbs recognizable to Western therapists). Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include ground ginger, sandalwood, eucalyptus leaf, calamus [a.k.a myrtle grass or sweet grass] and basil. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Pitta Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 218) (Fire element)
“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, peppermint and lemongrass. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Kapha Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 220) (Water and Earth elements)
“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include basil, ground ginger, eucalyptus leaf, and common sage leaf. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Thank you Anne Williams for sharing your wisdom in your Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists textbook and for inspiring me to follow my bliss. I hope this blog post inspires people to enjoy a Friday night foot bath and to change their circumstances if they don’t match the dream.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
One of the “s’s” in Homespunspa stands for “sports” because I think being fit is a necessary part of living a healthy lifestyle.
I personally enjoy exercising and it’s definitely a big part of my routine. I like to encourage people to add some sort of physical activity into their weekly schedule — whether it’s joining a running club, or stretching in a hot yoga class, or playing an intense game of squash or lifting weights with a personal trainer — because working out often and consistently increases quality of life exponentially.
My exercise of choice happens to be Jazzercise. A couple of weeks ago, my Jazzercise instructor, Donna, reminded me that it’s definitely time for me to buy a new pair of running shoes and to say good-bye to the old ones. Apparently, you’re supposed to get new running shoes after every 100 hours of activity. Well, if that’s the case, than I’m, like, at least three times over due.
I remember when I bought this pair. It was in August, 2009, about 8 weeks before I will have run my first ever 5K Run for the Cure for Breast Cancer. I went to the New Balance store on my lunch hour because I had a coupon. I was annoyed that my foot size was measured at 9 and 1/2 and that one foot was slightly bigger than the other. I needed a cross-trainer type of shoe so I could run forwards and do the quick side to side stepping for Jazzercise. I also needed something for my wide instep and high arches, traits I get from my father. Of course, I liked the purple accent colour on this particular model, too. I think I paid around $110 for them which seemed like a huge investment.
I tested my new shoes indoors during Jazzercise class and decided I liked them enough to commit to my purchase. Donna happened to have the exact same style shoe at the time (although hers had taken on a weathered look) and that’s how she knows how old my shoes are :>.
If these runnin’ shoes could tawk
Right now I’m holding my left shoe in my hand (which makes it harder to type and am reflecting on the times we’ve spent together — no blood — but a lot of sweat and tears. Oh and how can I forget all of the smiles and hugs and laughs as well.
Some memorable moments wearing these running shoes in the past year include: answering trivia questions about who is singing what song during Jazzercise class to get extra points for a summer beach bag promotion — I was jumping up and down like a 1st grader every time I thought I knew the answer; smiling to get my picture taken while running on the UVic campus and having a dog tugging on my tutu from behind; going on a field trip to Donna’s house and doing a class outdoors during a pivotal Vancouver Canucks v. Boston Bruins game in the Stanley Cup playoffs in June; and hearing everyone’s jingle bells, jingling all the way in December.
Of course, I really appreciate the support I got from my Jazzercise classmates during my Mani & Pedi fundraiser for Earthquake Relief in Japan and all of the hugs I got from everyone while my cat, Charlie, was sick. I value our little Jazzercise community immensely for reaching out to me during the tough times.
This week I’ve also reached a few milestones in Jazzercise. I’m happy to report that after Monday’s class, I got a cute and sparkly coin purse for attending 20 classes since November 1st and after Tuesday’s class, I was awarded a black, “Jazzercise, Rock you to the Core” t-shirt for participating in 150 classes in 2011! Add those numbers to my the 13 kilometers I ran for charity this year and 10 more K’s for 2010 and 2009 and all of the running on my treadmill and you can see why I need to get new shoes right away.
Baby needs a new pair of shoes
Based on my numbers (150 hours in Jazzercise in 2011, about 110 hours of Jazzercise in 2010, 40 hours of Jazzercise and personal training since August, 2009, 3-5K charity events and 1-8K charity run at an hour each and the odd walk/run on the treadmill), I figure I’ve clocked at least 330 hours on this particular pair of shoes. Wow, that’s a whole lot of steps to the left, steps to the right, jogs forward, jogs backward, hip lifts, attitude lifts, lunges, Jazz squares, toe taps, chassées and shimmies! In all honesty, it amazes me just thinking about it.
So after all of that, I think it’s time to retire my shoes and instead of putting them in the landfill, I’m going to give my beloved shoes to someone in need who may not have any shoes to wear at all. I sincerely hope these shoes will help someone else change their life for the better also.
It has been a good run and now it’s time to make some memories with some new running shoes!
What do you look for when you buy running shoes? Do you like a particular brand? Do you like certain colours? Do you have any advice on how to keep your running shoes in good condition? Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
“What a pain in the neck!” I’ve never thought about that expression literally before until I started writing these posts about muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
As you may recall from “Are you a walking coat hanger, (part 1),” I decided to write this post to help my friend, Angelina. She has been having problems with tension in her neck even though she exercises regularly, sits at an ergonomically-designed workstation and has visited a chiropractor. What else can she do to alleviate the tension and the pain?
5 More Ways to Relax Your Neck and Shoulders
1) Pillows: Since how well you sleep directly influences the quality of your life, I think it’s important to know a thing or two about pillows. How many pillows you use, what they’re made of, how soft or hard they are, the position of your body while you’re sleeping and how your head rests on your pillow(s) make a huge difference to your sleep. Muscle tension in the neck during the day may actually be triggered by an uncomfortable sleep from the night before. Your pillow should keep your head and neck aligned with your spine, so make sure your neck is resting at a comfortable angle. You can also place pillows between your knees to take the strain and pressure off your back, if you sleep on your side, or you can place a pillow under your knees, if you sleep on your back.
2) Reiki: I had my first Reiki session in June and I was fascinated by the technique. Reiki is a method that heals the body, mind and spirit using gentle, non-intrusive hand placements along the body, starting from the head. Reiki practitioners simply transfer universal healing energy from their hands to consenting individuals to encourage feelings of relaxation and well-being. Although their hands don’t actually touch your body (as in massage), it feels like they are and you can certainly feel the heat that is being generated — and that’s a really cool sensation. Your stress will evaporate into thin air. If you’d like the name of a talented and intuitive Reiki practitioner, please email me and I’ll forward her contact info to you.
3) Reflexology: With over 7,000 nerves connecting the feet to the rest of the body, it’s a no brainer why we look to the feet when we need to de-stress. Most people love to have their feet massaged, pampered and touched. According to the Reflexology Association of Canada, “Reflexology is a natural healing art, based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet and hands which correspond to every part of the body.” Reflexology maps the neurological relationships between zones on the soles of the feet to organs in the rest of the body and if you touch a specific area in the foot, it will point to a corresponding organ and that area of the body will feel relief. In Reflexology, if someone touches the “neck” on your big toe than they are also in a sense massaging your traditional neck. Also the area along the outside edge of your foot, below the pinky toe, corresponds to your shoulders.
4) Tense and release every part of your body: Being tense is a very common affliction in our stress-filled culture. Tension is caused by muscles that stiffen up when we feel the need to protect ourselves or defend ourselves from a perceived, potential threat. We’re getting ready to fight or freeze or flee. Holding the muscles over many hours is terribly painful and uncomfortable and doing that will lead to headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and back problems.
To remedy tense muscles, lie on your back in a quiet room and let your legs and arms fall away from your body. Make a mental note of how your body is feeling before you start this exercise so you have a reference point for later. In your mind, you are going to take a tour of your body, tensing and then releasing every part of it along the way. Starting with your feet, curl your toes under and hold the contraction for a few seconds. Meanwhile, hold your breath as well. Then release the contraction and exhale. Breathe. Then go to the arches of your feet. Hold the contraction. Hold your breath. Let go. Breathe again. From your feet, move on to the calves and repeat the steps. Travel to your knees, thighs, hips, buttocks, lower back, middle back, upper back, shoulders, neck, scalp, forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, face, shoulders (again), lungs, waist, tummy, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers, remembering to consciously tense each of the muscles and joints, holding your breath and letting it all go. Finish by tensing the entire body at once. Hold your breath and than instantly release the tension. Are you feeling more relaxed now?
5) Nutrition: Eating a balanced diet will help your body cope better with stress so aim to eat healthy food 90% of the time. Are you getting enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants on a daily basis? If not, consider adding supplements to your routine.
- The B vitamins, in particular, have long been used to help people who suffer from stress.
- Put Vitamin C on your shopping list, too.
- In terms of minerals, magnesium and iron are known to help with sleep.
- Antioxidants will act as the “clean up crew” in your body and will reduce the amount of harmful free radicals in your system.
As I’m doing the research on this topic, I’m learning that eating oats regularly, will help keep you calm, prevent depression and will lower cholesterol. Also, pumpkin seeds will help you deal with stress because they contain high levels of zinc, iron, calcium and B vitamins. Other foods that are high in B vitamins include: whole grains, brown rice, lean meat, brewer’s yeast, royal jelly, wheatgerm, bananas, liver, peanuts, black-eyed beans. Adding these foods to your meals will help you manage your stress which will, in turn, minimize your neck and shoulder tension.
I hope these tips will help you in your quest to manage stress.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
For the month of April, 2011, I am offering mobile mani’s and pedi’s by donation and the proceeds will be given to the Canadian Red Cross.
The cost of the manicure or pedicure is up to you. My goal is to raise at least $500.
The idea for this mani and pedi pledge drive came to me in bits and pieces. For the last couple of months, I’ve been having a hard time coping with day to day life and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan didn’t help. My anxiety was getting the better of me. Then I had a really bad day at work. It all started with a bad smell and got worse from there. It’s a long story that I won’t get into but as a result, I was consumed with self-doubt and I didn’t know what to do next. I had to ask myself, “Do I give up and quit everything that I have been working towards or do I (as the old song goes) pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again?” Between you and me, I wasn’t sure which way that coin would land. Thankfully, there were a lot of people (friends and strangers) who showed me tremendous kindness during that rough patch and I will forever be grateful.
Then I volunteered to give my friend a pedi for her birthday. I went to her house on Saturday morning and gave her a birthday pedicure. She chose OPI’s Austin-tatious Turquoise and it looked really good. She was so happy and said, “What a great thing to be able to do for people.” At that moment I realized I do have something to offer the world. It felt really good to do something nice for someone else without any expectation of a return and it took me out of my woe-is-me headspace long enough to shift focus to the bigger picture.
I had to be reminded that what I’ve been going through doesn’t compare with what others are experiencing around the world. Something clicked and now I am hoping to pay the kindness I received forward and help people work through their challenges one step at a time, whether it’s dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake in Japan or with something more personal on a smaller scale closer to home. We’re all connected.
If you’d like to participate in this charity fundraising event for the Red Cross and Earthquake Relief for Japan, please post a comment on this blog or send me an email. I’d be happy to book an appointment with you. As an added bonus, Homespunspa is mobile, so I’ll come to your house. Feel free to check out the nail polish colours on the OPI website and let me know which ones you prefer and I’ll make sure I’ll have those colours available when it comes to polish time.
Thank you for your generosity.
See you in April.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Alexandra, one of my Homespunspa blog readers, inspired me to come up with this home spa recipe. She asked, “What do you do with the rest of the orange?” after I posted an Orange, Coconut and Cinnamon Cookie recipe which only involved some grated orange peel and no juice nor pulp. That comment got me thinking and this is the recipe I came up with. I hope you enjoy it. And let me know how it turns out — it might get a little messy, but that’s part of the fun. And if you have any questions like Alexandra did, please post them in the comments and I’ll put my thinking cap on to answer them.
Put your feet up — home spa masque recipe for the feet
by Maria Koropecky
There are endless benefits associated with foot treatments. This masque recipe will help with detoxification and relaxation. It’ll also help soften callouses and moisturize dry skin.
Of course, you can apply this recipe yourself to your own feet but I strongly suggest teaming up with a friend on this one. You’ll have a few laughs for sure.
- 1/4 cup Green French Clay — A key spa ingredient which helps remove surface dirt and dead skin cells.
- 1/4 cup Milk — Moisturizes, nourishes and softens the skin.
- 1 TB Honey — Has moisturizing and antiseptic properties.
- 2 TB Orange Juice — Packed with Vitamin C which helps soften skin.
- 1 TB Olive Oil — Calms, soothes, softens, cleanses and moisturizes skin.
- 1 tsp Orange Peel — Makes a useful exfoliating scrub.
- 10 drops Orange Essential Oil — Softens and hydrates skin.
You’ll also need the following things for your foot masque treatment:
- foot bath
- 1 bath towel
- 1 tsp Orange Flower Water — (in a spray bottle) Tones and moisturizes all skin types.
- 2 dark medium sized towels – soaked in hot water and wrung out.
- 2 dark medium sized towels – dry
- 2 plastic bags
- moisturizer for your feet
- Remember that orange that was left over from the cookie recipe? Here is your chance to use it. First grate about a teaspoonful of the zest. Then peel the orange. Taste a couple of the orange segments for a snack. Then put the rest of the segments of the orange into a bowl to catch the juices while you use a mandolin to chop them into a pulp.
- Combine the green French clay, orange juice/pulp and orange zest in a separate mixing bowl to have them ready to go.
- When you’re ready to apply the masque to your feet, gently warm (do not boil) the milk and honey for a couple of minutes on low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Stir the warmed milk into the clay mixture.
- Then add the drops of the orange essential oil to the olive oil and then pour the oils over the clay mixture. Stir to combine. You should have the consistency of a loose pancake batter. (Reserve the orange flower water for the treatment).
- Soak your feet in a foot bath for at least 5 minutes. Blot dry with a bath towel. Save the bathwater to re-immerse your feet to remove the masque later.
- If you want to do a full pedicure today, do all of your nail work like clipping, filing and nipping first — but leave your polish application to the very end.
- Place a towel under your feet to catch any drippings.
- Add the warmed milk and honey to the clay mix and prepare your masque. (step 3 above).
- Spray your feet with the orange flower water.
- Scoop some wet clay into your palms and apply the masque quickly, while it’s still warm, to each foot, avoiding the nails.
- Wrap each foot in a towel that has been soaked in hot water and wrung out. Then wrap each foot in a dry towel. Then put each foot in a plastic bag.
- Put your feet up and relax for at least 10 minutes.
- Unwrap the right foot and remove as much product as possible with the damp towel. Repeat with the left foot. Place each foot back in the foot bath to rinse the remainder of the masque. Pat dry with your bath towel.
- Apply moisturizer to each foot.
- Apply nail polish (optional).
For more home spa recipes, buy a copy of my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way, available through this website.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I don’t know about you but I always feel naked if I go to a formal party and my nails aren’t done. New Year’s Eve is coming up quickly but there’s still time to polish up your look and paint your nails. May I suggest something in the purple family? It’s one of the hottest colour trends in fashion these days and it also happens to be my favourite colour, too.
And why not pair purple with the one of the other hot trends of 2010? How about glam-gliding your way into 2011 with shiny and glittery metallics or rich and luxy gem stones? From pinky to thumb on the above graphic, here are my colour choices from OPI.
- Rumple’s Wiggin’ — For some odd reason, neutrals — and particularly grays — are hugely popular this season. Wear big fat rings with this one.
- Funky Dunky — This lovely colour was inspired by the Shrek movie.
- Show It & Glow It — Glam it up with glitter. Who cares if the speckled polish doesn’t come off easily. Worry about that next year.
- Royal Rajah Ruby — This jewel tone will make you feel like a dancing queen as you ring in the new year.
- Siberian Nights — At first glance, you might think this polish is black, but it’s actually a very, very, deep, deep purple. Next to candle light, this colour really rocks.
When I was in school, we used OPI for all of our manicures and pedicures and that’s why I’m recommending this brand in my blog today. Everybody always laughs out loud when they hear the names of the colours they choose.
Helping someone decide on a nail colour reminds me of one of my appointments last summer when I was learning how to do pedicures in school. The woman, let’s call her Wanda, was going to a wedding on the weekend and wanted a colour that would work at a formal party and would go with her dress. As we looked through the basket of polishes, I suggested a lovely black one with shiny, silver specks. I had seen the celebrities wear black nail polish and I thought it would be perfect. Wanda agreed. I was so proud and I think she went home happy. My teacher gave me a good mark but asked, “Why on earth did she pick that colour? It’s like the hottest day of the year and this one, how it got back into the basket I’ll never know, was a part of a special holiday collection from last Christmas.”
Oh. Nail polish colours are seasonal. Lesson learned.
Happy New Year Everybody!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
It’s time to spring forward again. At 2:00 am on the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks ahead one whole hour to go to Daylight Saving Time and therefore magically lose an hour of the day over the course of the night.
I never really understood the concept behind Daylight Saving Time but have accepted this practice as one of the rhythms of the season. If nothing else, it reminds me to flip my mattress.
All of this extra sunshine is great, but there is a bit of a downside to this shift. Apparently, driving to work on the second Monday in March is slightly more dangerous than usual because the time change on the weekend disrupts people’s sleep patterns and causes them to be extra groggy on the road, which contributes to more traffic accidents.
So, I thought I would help people maximize their limited sleep time and reduce crashes by talking about Chamomile today.
With its apple-like scent and taste, Chamomile (which looks more like a Daisy) helps calm the nervous system and is used as a natural sleep remedy. Spanish chamomile is called manzanilla which means “little apple” but the generic name “Chamomile” is derived from the Greeks who referred to this herb as kamai which means “on the ground” and melon which means “apple.” The term “road apples” comes to mind every time I try to remember this, but that’s something totally different.
It’s Saturday Night, Why Am I Drinking Tea?
There are lots of things you can do tonight with Chamomile before you go to bed, to help you get a good night’s sleep in spite of being cheated out of an hour. Here are some tips from my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa Way:
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea for sleeplessness, nightmare prevention, depression, anxiety, anger, headaches, indigestion, female issues and shock;
- Place warm tea bags on your eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles;
- Use chamomile water as a toner in your facial to clean pores, relax facial expression, and de-stress (good for all skin-types);
- Use as a hair rinse to add highlights and gloss, repair damage, encourage hair growth, and for a relaxing fragrance;
- Use chamomile essential oil in foot creams to fight fungus;
- Add to bathwater and soap recipes and take a bath right before bed;
- For extra aromatherapy, spray your bedroom and sheets with comforting chamomile linen water;
- Use the herb in sleep pillows;
- Add chamomile essential oil to massage oil to relax, foster sleep, lift depression, soothe pain, and strengthen breathing.
Enjoy your weekend and may your commutes to and from work be smooth and clear this week. Feel free to add your comments and tips to this post.
For the last couple of years I have been on a mission to lose weight and get fit. In April of 2007, I hit my all time high in weight and did not want to see the next higher number. You can guess what the magic number was. I’ll never say. I have been going to Jazzercise classes for several years but that wasn’t really helping my situation at that point. I needed to increase my exercise and I also needed to change my eating habits. And my stress level, by the way, was also pretty high at that time, but that’s a topic for another post.
After a few more months of denial, in July of ‘07 I finally decided to hire my Jazzercise instructor as my personal trainer. She has a studio in her house. I have been working out every Thursday afternoon since (more or less) in a group with three other women, all with our own challenges, goals and stories. For the longest time, nothing much was happening with my weight. I was exercising more but not enough to compensate for my love of chocolate chip cookies. Eventually though, slowly but surely, I started making some progress.
In May of 2008, I was weighed and measured and that’s the number I use as my current bench mark though it is only 5 pounds less than that awful other number. And since then, I’m happy to say I have lost 24 pounds and 23 inches. I guess it just took a while to get the snowball rolling.
In any case, I am eating much healthier these days. No more cookies, chips, cakes, etc. My trainer also suggested I try eating Quinoa. I was like… Keen whaaa?
Lots of people are really enthusiastic about Quinoa and it is considered a “superfood.” Although it is new to me, Quinoa was first cultivated more than 5000 years ago by the Incas in the Andean region of South America. The Incas revered Quinoa as sacred and called it “The Mother of All Grains.” Because it contains all eight essential amino acids, it is considered a complete protein. If you’re a vegetarian or have issues with gluten or have diabetes, this one’s a keeper because it is plant-based, has no gluten and helps regulate blood sugar levels. As far as nutrition goes, Quinoa is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D.
Here is the “mother of all grains” recipe I served as part of my Mother’s Day menu. I found the inspiration in Rose Reisman’s, The Complete Light Kitchen, 2007 Whitecap Books, page 108 but made my own adjustments.
Quinoa Greek Salad
2 cups organic chicken stock
1 cup quinoa — you can find it in the cheap and cheerful bulk food section of your grocery store
1/2 half cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup peeled and diced field cucumber
1/4 cup chopped chives — my mother just happened to have some growing in her garden
1/4 cup diced red onion
2/3 cup light feta cheese, crumbled
1 TB lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
2 small vine tomatoes, quartered for garnish
1. Optional: Rinse the quinoa in cold water before cooking to remove the possible bitter, mineral taste, though it really doesn’t permeate through the recipe once the quinoa is mixed with other ingredients. You might also want to toast the quinoa in a pan for 2 minutes to release a nutty flavour, but I didn’t this time.
2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the quinoa grains are tender and there is no liquid left in the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool.
3. Add the chopped cucumber, red pepper, onions and feta cheese to the cooked and cooled quinoa.
4. In a separate bowl or jar, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dried basil and pepper and pour over the salad. Garnish with tomato wedges.
Enjoy this recipe and let me know how it turned out.
And if you want a spa treatment recipe using Quinoa, try this foot scrub:
Quinoa Dry Rub for Dry Feet
2 cups uncooked Quinoa – Rich in vitamins and minerals, this grain exfoliates without dehydrating skin. Also has anti-fungal properties.
1/3 cup whole coffee beans – Sniffing coffee helps clear the nasal palette. Can be used to soothe inflamed skin, remove cellulite and to exfoliate skin.
peel from 1 orange – Uplifiting orange eases depression, calms anxiety, lulls nervous tension and enhances a room’s atmosphere. Also, the Alpha-Hydroxi Acids clean and exfoliate skin.
1 TB olive oil – Pressed from juicy olives, this lovely, fragrant, heavy oil calms, soothes, nourishes, cleans, softens and moisturizes skin.
Method: In a bowl that is large enough to fit both of your feet at once, combine all ingredients except olive oil. Tear the orange peel into various shapes and pieces.
Manner: Eat the orange if you haven’t already now that you’ve peeled it. Step into the bowl and roll the soles of your feet over the grains to massage out the kinks for as long as you want. Wipe off your feet with a towel. Follow with olive oil or lotion to moisturize feet.
Storage/Shelf Life: Store in a glass jar or bottle. May be re-used by the same person.
Note: I designed this recipe so it wouldn’t be messy and clog drains.