The Power of a Hug

I remember growing up and being taught to not talk to strangers, let alone give them a hug and for good reason with the world we live in and all the violence we see happening to our children, but is that the best way? I don’t think we should force our kids to hug people, we need to teach them to trust their instincts, but we should teach them about the power of a “good hug”. I taught me kids early to give “good hugs”, to the people in our circle of friends and family. They are all grown up and they still give hugs. Life is about balance with wisdom. We as human beings need healthy and healing physical touch. Studies have shown that touch is essential to our well being, even for our mortality .

But touch is even more vital than this: babies who are not held and nuzzled and hugged enough will literally stop growing and-if the situation lasts long enough, even if they are receiving proper nutrition-die. SOURCE:

Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph.D. is a child psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He is the Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy and co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential—And Endangered.

Maia Szalavitz has published five books and written for The New York Times, Time magazine online, New Scientist, Psychology Today, and other major publications.

So here’s an experiment you may want to try and it may bring a bit of “Happy” into your life. Start a hug campaign in your home, church or community. I suggest to start some where you and the people around you will feel comfortable and open to this experiment of hugging.

Juan Mann, started a very public and controversial hug campaign, that impacted thousands of people. It was so powerful that authorities, banned his campaign. Juan went around and had people sign s petition and they had to remove the ban and the hugging party continued, Hugging is a big deal. Check out his video below and some reason why hugging is so good for us :

Juan Mann Hugging Campaign

Here’s a few reasons that may inspire you

to hug more:

Scientific research shows that a good hug, meaning at least 20 seconds is the fastest way for you to get oxytocin flowing in your body. Oxytocin, also known as the “love drug”, calms your nervous system and boosts positive emotions. Here’s how a good hug resulting in oxytocin flow affects you:

• It lowers your blood pressure, especially helpful if you’re feeling anxious.

• It lowers your cortisol (the stress hormone), enabling a higher quality of sleep.

• It can increase your social connections and a sense of belonging.

Studies have also shown that couples who hug more are more likely to stay together. Some reports have even shown hugs can reduce pain. So let’s get the hugging party started. SPREAD THE LOVE. 💕

Hello Fear, Why are you here?

Feeling afraid is very natural and sometimes very necessary.  Fear ~ an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. We are wired with fear, it serves a purpose, like all things in our lives.  It’s here to help us be safe, it keeps us alive during the times of danger.  Our ancestors lived in a world where imminent danger from wild animals and the elements of their environment was always a life or death situation, but even now people live in societies with constant war, and physical danger around every corner.  This launches us into The fight or flight mode. 


The truth is most of us do not live in extremely dangerous environments, where we need to be in fight or flight mode, all the time But, when you think about it, we are often there in our minds. We are practicing self preservation, we are trying to keep something, SAFE. We are trying to preserve our idea of what life should look like.

When life for any reason doesn’t look the way we would like it to, fear pops up and we panic!

Our minds begin to wonder, and our “what ifs”, start to flood us like a dam that has been broken and now is taking over a calm and peaceful forest, disturbing all of life within it. What if they do not like me? What if they see me for who I truly am? What if I do not get the job? What if I am not good enough? What if he doesn’t call? What if this relationship ends? What if it’s not what I expected?  There is no obvious physical danger here, but our “idea of life”  has been threaten. I love this quote by Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  Most of the time we are living in fear of things that will never happen.

When we constantly live like this we can be do serious harm to ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

pexels-photo-568027.jpegHere are a few ways that chronic fear can impact our lives: SOURCE: Impact of Fear and Anxiety
Living under constant threat has serious health consequences.

  1. Physical health. Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.
  2. Memory. Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.
  3. Brain processing and reactivity. Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.
  4. Mental health. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PSTD.

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We do not want to stay in a chronic state of fear, but when it comes, you can allow fear to serve you.

A few months ago my fear was over taking me and all I wanted to do is run away and put my son in a room, so he would be safe. I was in the flight mode for sure. It was about my son driving, he is 17 years old and he has been driving for a year. He is a pretty good driver, but it’s a scary thing to see your kid growing up and getting behind the wheel, with all the teenager driver accidents I hear about.  I also have PTSD.  Years ago I saw a guy killed in a car accident and his body laid in the road for awhile before the paramedics came to remove him.  This put me in the hospital and I couldn’t speak for three days.

Trauma can give the mind references to pull up, when those similarities show up in our lives and our bodies and mental state can feel as though it’s happening all over again.

So when those past thoughts start to overwhelm me, I prayed and meditated. Suddenly I heard a gentle whisper, ” Why do I have to be something you avoid, something you fear or allow to consume you?  I am here to serve your highest good.” I just sat there in tears, blown away by these words, that just washed over my soul.  Fear is here to serve me. YES!!! It was put inside of my being, to help me stay safe and survive the elements of my world. The thing is, I do not live in an environment that is constantly threatening my physical body, but I do live in a world that is constantly threatening my emotional, mental and spiritual body.  I continued to meditate and pray. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and this came to me, “Ask me why I am here?’ “Why did I show up?” So I took another trembling breath and asked fear ” Hello, fear why are you here?”

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Fear said, as I continued to meditate and pray:

I am here to remind you that you have stepped away from where you should truly stand. You have stepped away from the spirit of truth and love. I feel so strong and so forceful, because I need you to move from this place NOW.  I grip you so tight, because I need you to pay attention and listen to why I am here.   I am here to show you where you have not surrendered.  I am here to get you to look at the place deep inside you, where you first experienced me so intensely, so we can go back there and find your healing. I am here to get you to ask, Why am I scared? What do I truly want and am I afraid I will not get it?  I am here to remind you to get back to GOD, back to LOVE  and back to TRUTH.   IF AM HERE, THEN FAITH CAN NOT BE and you will not have hope. I do not give hope, I am just a reminder that you need to take care. SO LET’S DEAL with it. There is work for you to do. I am your teacher. I am a hard teacher, that will consume you until you surrender, learn and move forward.

So many thoughts flooded my mind during this time of prayer. I had moved away from God, love and truth in my thinking and I was afraid of my son getting into a bad car accident and being killed like that guy was. I had to go back and deal. I had to give that fearful thought over to God. I had to trust and plug into the million other probabilities out there, like this one, my son can be safe on the road. You see we allow fear to take us over, because we do not honor it’s presence.

We push it away, we try to avoid it altogether, but I am learning to stop, pause, breath, pray and ask fear, Hello, fear why are you here?  What do you need me to know? Where do we need to go? Once you have done that, the light comes back in, the soul feels safe from the dangers of the emotions we have not dealt with.   It maybe something in childhood, a bad relationship, a real physical trauma, a negative thought, whatever it is, we must not be afraid of fear. pexels-photo-748870.jpeg

We need to face our fears like a old friend that knows us really well and is trying to get us to see the truth. Resistance only feeds fear’s call and it starts to consume us, so surrender with lovingkindness and ask fear, “HELLO, FEAR WHY ARE YOU HERE,” so we can be FREE.

What is love? Here’s a thought: just a thought.

Love, what is it really about?

Well I have been with my husband for almost 25 years and I have a few failing thoughts on that, which has helped me get to this right here, with time and practice. When you are happy, you make others happy around you. Deal with yourself first. The other one is this, Love is not complicated. A quote from my husband. “Marriage (relationships) can be challenging, but love is easy.” I totally agree with him. I think about all that the Bible mentions about love and it’s a pretty wonderful thing God designed, he designed Divine love:

Who doesn’t want that? But we hear so many times; love sucks, love is hard, love is for losers, love is not real, etc., etc., of more negative love affirmations.

What we are experiencing in life is not love itself as it was designed by the Divine to be. We are experiencing are our beliefs about love and love is being filtered through that thinking. The truth is we are dealing with our past experiences, perspectives and idiosyncrasies, but love is still the same as God created it to be, our baggage just happens to be tagging along, giving it a bad wrap.

When you realize that, your heart can stay open to love and you can deal with what’s truly going on. We think things like, if he loved me he would call more, if she loved me, she would have known not to say things like that. But not necessarily, love has nothing to do with someone being inconsiderate, forgetful, selfish or just plain immature. Deal with the issue, then ask yourself is Divine love here? If not, is this relationship worth calling Divine love into it? Or do you need to practice Divine love for yourself and move on.

Love, this Divine Love, true love is a God given gift to us all. We have to practice this love in our own lives first, before being able to practice with someone else fully. It’s your right to be loved like this. Recognize it. Understand it. Live it and allow it to Live.

Vegan Spinach Florentine Rice Paper Wraps.

Here’s another recipe that may wow your Valentine’s Day date. 💕It’s so simple, easy, delicious and healthy. I love taking traditional recipes like a spring roll adding non traditional ingredients and allowing my guests to experience something in familiar in a new way. This will make appetizer, before dinner or add some wonderful cheeses, nuts,dried fruit and you got a beautifully unique anti pasti platter, pair it with your favorite wines and dinner is served. Psst… throw in some really good chocolates and this Valentine’s Day will be talked about for awhile. The truth is whatever you decide to do, just make sure you Set the Table with Love. NOTE: The pictures below show a wok fried version of this recipe, but I did give you an option to back them. Ingredients:1 tbsp olive oil 1/4 cup onions 1/2 cup red bell pepper1/2 cup sundried tomatoes 1 medium garlic clove, minced 1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and pat dry to remove excess water1/2 cup chanterelle or baby portobello mushrooms,choppedFreshly ground black pepper and sea salt to tasteRice Papers To help hold them together:1/2 tbsp cornstarch 1 tbsp water Basil oil for dipping 2 cup of basil 1 cup olive oilSea salt to taste Directions: Preheat your oven to 425.In a sauté pan on medium heat add the olive oil. Add onions, peppers and garlic and sauté for about minutes or two until onions are a bit transparent. Add the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, until everything is heated through. Remember you will be baking these as well. Remove from stove and set aside. Prepare your rice paper for baking: 1 Place a single wrapper on a wet kitchen towel (cover the remaining wrappers with another kitchen towel so that they don’t dry). Arrange the wrapper in a diamond shape, place a bit of ingredients at the bottom. Stop when you reach half way, fold the right and left corner in so that the roll looks like an open envelope. Brush a bit of cornstarch mixture on the final corner and finish rolling. Place under a damp kitchen towel while you roll the rest. 2 Brush the rolls with a small amount of vegetable oil and place on a baking tray lined with a piece of baking parchment. 3 Bake for about 15 minutes on one side, then flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes on the other side, until the rolls are golden brown. Remove from the oven and enjoy with the basil oil or your favorite sauce.

Preparing Rice Paper wraps for deep frying. Use the same rolling process as you would for baking adding the ingredients in the rice paper and rolling according to previous instructions:To start the process of deep frying, all you need is a nice big wok or saucepan, a ladle or a pair of tongs and some oil.

  1. Heat up a cup of oil on low heat in a wok or big sauce pan. When the oil starts to lightly smoke, it is ready for frying.
  2. Using a ladle or a pair of tongs, gently immerse a spring roll into the hot oil. Be very gentle so that the oil does not splash on you.
  3. After half a minute, turn the spring roll over gently. Fry for another half a minute, then put it to the side of the wok and let it continue frying. You need to do this before putting the next spring roll into the oil as the spring rolls may stick to each other before both sides have been fried for half a minute.
  4. Fry the spring rolls until they are golden brown and crispy.
  5. Remove from oil and place ice on a paper towel, to remove and excess oil and enjoy!

For basil oil: Add all ingredients in a blender and lightly pulse, until well blended, add more oil if you like a nice thin basil oil. Continue to 5 of 6 below.

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Heart Shaped Quinoa Coconut Macaroons 

This is one of my favorite holidays. I am such a hopeless romantic. I love Love.❤❤❤

Valentine’s Day can be decadent and nourishing. We usually see quinoa used for savory dishes, but this is one of my favorites. You guys know how much I love quinoa. Check out all the delicious recipes here on my blog, but try this one first. 😘

< y Chocolate Heart Shaped Quinoa Macaroons is one you will come back to often. Enjoy these on Valentine’s Day or any day of the week. It’s an awesome recipe to share with your kids as well.  b>Ingredients 6 tablespoons egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 1/2  cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup cooked  white quinoa. Follow package instructions.

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:<<<
bine the egg whites and maple syrup in a heatproof bowl.

Begin by tempering the eggs, which will create a nice crispy cookie exterior. Place the bowl over a pot with boiling water and whisk the eggs and maple syrup  together until creamy and warm. When they’re warm to the touch, they are ready to go.

Remove the bowl off the heat and add in coconut, quinoa and salt, mix well.

Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat or double parchment paper,( so they will not burn under the bottom)

Spray canola oil inside a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Using an ice cream scoop, place the mixture in the heart shaped cookie cutter and fill to the top.<<<
tly press down the mixture into the cookie cutter, molding it into a heart shape. Remove the cookie cutter and continue until you have used all the mixture.  Separating the cookies about 1 inch apart.

Bake in the center of a warm oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are nice and golden brown.

Let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until completely cooled.

Top with Chocolate Ganache<<<
colate Ganache

4 oz dark or semi milk chocolate baking bar, chopped

1/2 cup milk or organic almond milk or any non dairy milk or heavy cream

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Easy version<<<<
ce chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat milk on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour milk or cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and stir. Drizzle over cooled heart shaped macaroons and Enjoy!!<<<<
gt;

Soy Free Gluten Free Vegan Sausage, Avocado Scramble and Peaches

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My 20 year anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. My husband and I have decided to do a wedding renewal ceremony.  I am very excited, because I did not think I we would have made 20 years. I had kidney disease when we meet and kidney failures 7 years after we had our first son together. I was on dialysis for 3 months in 2008, when we found out he was my perfect match. My second chance at life happen on June 18th, 2008. One month before our son’s birthday, which is July 18th. It’s amazing how God works. We knew bringing our son into the world, could jeopardize my well being or kill me. So, how God to allow my husband to give me that life back, that was compromise by giving life to our son. It blows me away every time I think about it

This recipe is inspired to help me drop a few pounds to get in my wedding renewal dress and blow his socks off when I walk down that aisle one more time. The recipe I want to share today is my Avocado Scramble. it’s very simple and loaded with nutrition.

Avocado Scramble

Ingredients

1 large avocado

1/4 teaspoon turmeric ( this gives it that yellow color)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

sea salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup of red bell peppers

handful of basil leaves, gently torn apart.

Instructions:

In a bowl mash the avocado with the turmeric, garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper. Add the peppers and basil and gently stir. I like to live a little basil and peppers on the side to use as a garnish.

This is great on gluten free toast, as well.

The sausage recipe will be in my new cook book, Set the Table with Love Take 2 ~Raw, Vegan and Vegetarian recipes for looking and feeling great. 

Ginger peach Coho salmon salad with warm cinnamon pears

My former yoga teacher sent me this amazing vinegar Alessi White Balsamic Pear Infused vinegar and the sweet note. So she asked me to post what I am going to do with it.

I made a ginger pear dressing for the Coho Salmon salad.  I also took the dressing and used it as a marinade for my coho salmon. It turned out really good.

Ginger Peach Coho Salmon  salad with warm cinnamon pears and spicy dehydrated peas and cranberries
Ginger Peach Coho Salmon salad with warm cinnamon pears and spicy dehydrated peas and cranberries

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Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon and Cardamom Honey Butter.

This is so good!!! So so very very good!  I had the honor of help cater my best friend’s husband 40th birthday party. They requested my sweet potato biscuits, ( gluten free)! I made this cinnamon and cardamom honey butter to go along with the biscuits but I forgot it at home.  Fortunately that did not matter, they at them all.

I decided tonight I wanted to make grilled peaches, but what would I put on them. Duh? My butter of course.

This recipe is easy.

Grill some peaches on my George Forman girl. I just drizzled them with olive oil until they were soft.

Plated. Grated some fresh nutmeg and cinnamon. Drizzled them with some organic honey and add my butter.

Cinnamon and Cardamon Honey Butter Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon and Cardamom Honey Butter 970326_10151649101618613_492593119_n

Ingredients

1/2 cup of  unsalted butter, need to be at room temperature
3 tbsp of organic honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of cardamom and pinch of sea salt

Directions
Combine the butter, honey, cinnamon, cardamom and salt  using a fork, combine the ingredients throughly until nice a creamy.  You can scoop a few teaspoons on to your peaches or anything else you would like some extra flavor.

Enjoy!

Set the Table with Love

A Cookbook inspiration from Love

My friends are amazing! This year I was not in the mood to celebrate my birthday! But they had other plans in mind. My best friends hosted my birthday on the rooftop of one of my dear friends high rise on a beautiful starry summer’s night in Atlanta. We laughed, we cried, we sang, we meditated. It was so ME! My best friend had each lady blow out a gold candle and make a wish for themselves on this beautiful night. That also is so ME, life should be a celebration of us ALL. Well everyone gave me beautiful birthday wishes and gifts.

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All My Birthday gift that inspire my love for cooking

The funny thing this year most of my gifts were cooking utensils. Now I cook a lot almost every day, but my kitchen is so primitive. They brought me into the 21st century. LOL.  This also has inspired me to finally write my cookbook. Set that Table with Love. So here is a recipe I wanted to share with you guys.  I did tonight using two of the gifts that were given to me. A Cuisinart Blender and lovely little glass dressing holder.

This is truly setting the table with love.

Blueberry Pineapple Salad Dressing

2 cups of organic blueberries

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Blueberry Pineapple Salad Dressing

1 cup of  organic pineapples ( chopped)

1 cup of olive oil

4 tbs of organic unsweetened cranberry juice

1 tbs of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tbs of organic honey

couple of pinches of sea salt

I blended everything well in my Cuisinart Blender and yummy healthy dressing was born.

This dressing is high in antioxidants, omega fatty acids, prebiotics from the apple cider vinegar which is excellent in promoting healthy intestinal flora. Also this dressing is great for the kidneys and help boost collagen as well, which in my book makes it a Beautiful Energy Food.

Enjoy and Remember to Set the table with Love.