6/29/2015

Sugar Cleanse Giveaway

Sugar Cleanse Giveaway with Ashley Neese

Do you crave sweets on a constant basis? Do you end every meal with dessert? Do you rely on coffee or caffeinated tea to keep your energy up throughout the day? Are you unhappy with your current weight? Do you feel powerless to the allure of sugar? Most importantly, are you ready to create a healthy relationship with food?

Our next 10-Day Sugar Cleanse is right around the corner and I am so looking forward to helping you kick your sugar cravings, for good.

“The cleanse gave me space to make healthful decisions about what I eat and how I treat my body. My mind is clear and I have more sustained energy.”

-Taryn Cowart, Portland, OR

Imagine a world where you don’t need that extra slice of cake. Say here, need dessert instead. Where you’re genuinely satisfied after each and every meal. Where you relate to food with gratitude and joy. Where you love your body for exactly what it is.

“I love how all-encompassing the cleanse is. I’ve tried other ‘quit sugar’ methods but this felt more like a lifestyle-enrichment process than a simple diet change.”

-Lisa Butterworth, Los Angeles, CA

The cleanse officially starts on August 1, 2015. If you’re interested in participating, click here for details on everything from pricing, to what’s included.

And since this will be my last go at running this cleanse, I’d love to give one of my readers the opportunity to participate for free. For eligibility, here’s what you need to do:

1) Follow me on Pinterest

2) Create a new Pinterest board titled “Summer Sugar Cleanse” – pinning at least 10 recipes from my Pinterest page that you’d like to make in the coming months

3) Once complete, comment on this blog post with a link to your beautiful board!

4) The deadline to enter is Friday, July 3rd.

And that’s it! We’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, July 6th. No matter the outcome, I trust this sugar cleanse will help inspire you to get creative in the kitchen, and really assess your relationship with food. Take advantage of this summer season by hitting the reset button and setting the tone for an amazing rest of your year.

Feel free to share this post with friends and happy pinning!

xoa

6/25/2015

Standing In My Truth

Standing In My Truth by Ashley Neese
We turn into the park and I have this feeling something big is on it’s way in. These feelings have been bubbling to the surface all day. It’s hard to speak without crying but I have this sense that I am taken care of and that it’s time to drop the armor and allow myself to be seen.

The heat has been oppressive all weekend out in the desert and I have been welcoming it in with open arms. There is something about the quietness, the empty space, the prickly trees that reach out as far as the eye can see that holds me and allows me to expand at the same time. It’s like that feeling I get when I practice, when I stand in tadasana, mountain pose, just taking it all in. Feeling rooted while reaching up. Looking out into the vast nothingness that holds everything, contemplating what I stand for in this moment.

What do I stand for?

What really matters to me?

Out here I let myself go. I stop combing my hair. I don’t bother to put on concealer because I want to connect more to my Mother. I inherited her dark circles under my eyes whether I like them or not. And I don’t like them most days but out here in this heat I stop giving a fuck for just long enough to ask myself what I truly stand for.

Looking out into the muted desert land I decide it is time to really stand for something. I am not sure what that is right now but I know I’ve got to get my intentions into the fire soon and I hope that brings me some clarity.

Sitting on the warm rocks waiting for my turn to walk up to the fire and be witnessed by the folks I’ve been healing with for the last two days. The tears continue to leak out of my eyes and my friend calls my name. It’s time.

I stand up and walk towards the fire repeating the mantra in my head, ‘All in, All in, All in.’ My friend and I have been saying this to each other throughout weekend to make ourselves laugh and to remind us why we are out here in the first place. There is no such thing as half measures anymore when it comes to doing this powerful, transformative work. We’re all in.

All fucking in!

I fumble around for a minute, digging the dried corn out of my tight shorts to offer to this beautiful fire in front of me. I mutter my gratitude for everyone and for my amazement that I just found this community last year and then I share my intentions out loud.

Before I know it my teacher asks me to sing a song for the group. My mind goes white. I chant most mornings and have for years but in that moment I can’t think of anything, it’s like there is nothing there. I recall the first song I ever sang in front of people 5 years ago while leading a residency on the role of love in contemporary art in Canada. I sing the first verse and then everything goes white again. I can’t recall a single lyric, a single note. It’s just me without my armor in front of 30 people having no idea what I am doing.

The last time I felt that seen was over 7 years ago when I spoke at one of the oldest AA meetings in San Francisco. During that meeting I stood up at a podium and told over 200 people that my deepest source of shame was getting pregnant for the second time at 19 years old and not being able to stop using alcohol and drugs long enough to carry the baby to term.

All in.

All fucking in.

If you asked me what my biggest fears is aside from losing my brother or parents I would say being in front of people without my armor. Being seen not knowing the words to a song, being seen for being imperfect. Being seen for being myself.

That night I let it all go into the fire. I asked her to support me and celebrate that I finally figured out what I stand for.

I stand for myself.

I stand for believing that there is nothing outside of myself that is better than what is inside of me.

I stand for loving every aspect of myself, even the parts that are very challenging for me to accept.

I stand for learning to be my own best friend, for embracing my gifts and using my creative powers for good in this world.

I stand for walking the path of authenticity and illuminating the path for others when they need support.

I stand for not giving up no matter what because I am learning to trust that I am worth it.

xoa

6/24/2015

Nourishing Summer Juice

Ashley_Neese8The first time I created this juice combination I knew I had a winner! The bright color of this juice says it all. It’s loaded with countless phytonutrients that are deeply mineralizing and it is a serious blood builder and mood stabilizer. My Nourishing Summer Juice also works wonders to reduce thirst, curb sugar cravings and wake up the mind. Today we’re going to dive deep into the benefits of these humble foods that are accessible much of the year.

Now that we are officially in the summer season I thought it was time to introduce a new juice recipe. Summer is an ideal time to drink your veggies, especially on days when it’s just too hot to think about turning on the oven. Fresh juices are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and are great to enjoy as a snack.

While I love my green juices just as much as the next girl, these days I am into juicing heartier veggies that aren’t so astringent to the body. This juice is mildly cleansing and detoxifying but is more satisfying than a green juice because of the high levels of carbohydrates.

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Ashley_Neese2This is a favorite juice to recommend to my pregnant and nursing clients because it is so healing and restorative to the body. I also suggest it to women during their ovulatory phase because the high antioxidant content is excellent for supporting ovaries to create healthy eggs. Nourishing Summer Juice helps reduce sugar cravings and relieve premenstrual symptoms during the luteal cycle phase. Often times women crave sugar during the luteal phase and enjoying a sweet and nutrient boosting juice is far better for the body than snacking on cookies or ice cream.

Sweet potatoes help stabilize blood sugar and are considered one of the most nutritious vegetables. In Chinese medicine they help to tonify the blood, add moisture to dryness and are great when you are thirsty. They are super high in vitamins A and C. I love them in juices for all of their benefits but if you have a weak digestion it is best to enjoy them cooked.

If you haven’t juiced a sweet bell pepper before you are in for a treat. These gorgeous vegetables are are warming and very supportive for the stomach and circulation. Sweet bell peppers are an amazing source of vitamins C, K and B6.

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Ashley_Neese3Apples are a cooling food that revitalize the heart and help release toxins from the body. They are more easily digested than most fruits because they contain malic and taric acid which prevent them from fermenting in the gut. If you find yourself gassy after eating fruit fermentation is often the reason. Like sweet potatoes apples add moisture to the body from the inside out which keeps you hydrated. Apples are also high in antioxidants and a great source of pectin (what is used to hold jelly together) which is beneficial to our GI tract

Carrots are one of the most common vegetables and are also have super potent medicinal qualities. They are cooling in nature and help to clear heat, remove toxins and even keep our energy flowing well. In Chinese medicine they support almost all body systems and are considered a chi, or life force energy tonic. And here you were thinking carrots are only good for your eyes right? Carrots are naturally sweet and help to stabilize blood sugar, reduce cravings for sweets and support a healthy digestive tract. The nutrients in carrots are close to the skin so don’t peel them!

Adding lemon and ginger to fresh juices is a must. Ginger aids in digestion, is an super powered anti-inflammatory and adds a boost of warmth which is good for folks that tend to feel cold when they drink juices.

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Blood Builder Juice

Serves 2

Ingredients //

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 red apples
  • 1 large bunch of carrots
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

 

Method //

Chop the sweet potatoes, peppers, apples and carrots so they are the right size for your juicer. Peel the ginger.

Run all veggies and fruit through your juicer except the lemon. Squeeze in the lemon juice at the end.

Pour into two glasses and serve.

Juice will keep 3 days in an airtight glass jar in the fridge.

 

Photos by Asami Zenri

6/17/2015

Inspiring Women // Briar Winters

Inspired Living with Briar Winters by Ashley NeeseHello friends! I am happy to share the next interview in our series. I’ve made a little change to the title of the series. From now on it will be called, Inspiring Women. I’ve been wanting to switch the name for a while and decided to go for it. I feel this new title speaks more directly to the series and community of creative women I am interviewing. Looking forward to sharing interviews a little more frequently and cannot wait to introduce you to Briar today!

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Briar Winters is the incredible talent behind Marble & Milkweed, a NYC based skin and spirit apothecary. I came across Briar’s gorgeous Instagram feed last year and immediately felt a connection to her creations, images and words. Her rose and chamomile nectar are just beyond amazing for my sensitive face and her botanical fragrances are complex and delicate. Briar is truly gifted when it comes to transforming her deep relationships with plants into tools to help us simplify our self care.

What inspires me about Briar is that she is clearly living her practice. Her intention to make time for self care, for her partner and Mother nature is what this series is all about. Today we talk about creating balance in life and work, the importance of stillness and connecting to the cycles of the natural world.

Share your self care musts.
These days I am more of a night owl than a morning person, so I often work late into the evenings, and save mornings for myself. I feel so much better throughout the day when I’ve taken time to wake up slowly. A warm bath before bed each night, and eight hours of good quality sleep are crucial, as is clean, plant-based nourishment, plenty of water and a brisk walk, as often as possible.

Inspired Living with Briar Winters by Ashley Neese
What does your body need to feel nourished?
Water, veggies, plenty of protein and healthy fats. I love routine and ritual, and I always start my day with a glass of water at room temperature with the addition of several herbal tonics, my current favorites are the Chamomile Bitters (to gently jump start digestion) and Joy Tonic, from Urban Moonshine, and a mushroom extract blend from Paul Stamets. Then a little triphala powder mixed in warm water, and then our household variation on the turmeric tonic: grated fresh ginger and turmeric, tulsi, fresh lemon juice, black pepper, ashwaghanda and raw honey in warm water. This helps me start the day hydrated and gets my digestive fire going.

In Ayurvedic terms, I tend towards Vata imbalance, so warm, nourishing foods help to address that. I also try to stop and stretch throughout the day (especially if I’m working at my desk) to keep the circulation going. It’s so easy to do a lot of walking here in New York City without even realizing it, and it has always been one of my favorite ways to spend time here, in motion. It’s invigorating and clears my mind.

How do you create balance between your personal and professional life?
This is my biggest challenge from day to day, and because of the constantly changing nature of absolutely everything. I try to accept that this balance will never be perfect. The journey toward a sort of equilibrium seems almost more important. Mostly, I try to be observant of how I feel when I make certain choices about my time, and I try to make a distinction between what is important and what is urgent and prioritize accordingly.

It’s incredibly easy to take on too many things, so I’ve been practicing saying no a little more often, and I’ve found that it actually opens up space for me to get clear on exactly what I want, and it also makes room for wonderful surprises, and a little more quiet time. It also helps that I am blessed with a partner who is an amazing cook (among so many other things!), which encourages me to come home in time for dinner on nights where I might be tempted to work too late and overextend myself. Time with him is something that grounds and nourishes me.

Inspired Living with Briar Winters by Ashley NeeseBest advice you’ve ever taken.
I’m actually a little wary of advice! I think the most important advice I’ve ever taken was to trust my own intuition. The more I do that, the more I feel as if I’m on the right path.

Share a favorite seasonal wellness tip.
My favorite way to get into the spirit of spring and wake up my sleepy winter body is to get out into the garden. Preparing our community garden plot for the growing season is great exercise and working outdoors after a long winter brings me a calm, focused energy that I can carry throughout my day.

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Name three plants that are inspiring you right now.
With spring now finally in full swing here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking a lot about the spring tonic plants for cleansing and rejuvenation, especially nettles and dandelion. I grew up thinking of these plants as weeds, but now I understand more about their value both as medicine and food, and I am constantly astounded by their generosity. I’ve also been studying the wonders of the rose geranium this spring while assembling my spring kit for the shop, where her beautiful fragrance and healing properties make an appearance in several of my seasonal offerings. The balancing effects of rose geranium on both mind and body make it a wonderful plant for the seasonal transition into spring.

Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
Before I started Marble & Milkweed, I was working in commercial pastry kitchens, an environment where self-care is basically non-existent. The days were long and stressful, and it was easy to develop all sorts of unhealthy habits. I watched a lot of people burn out and suffer from health problems that they weren’t old enough to have. I was really young, and I had the energy and the drive to do the work, but I eventually realized that I wanted a more balanced life, and that I wanted to have more control over how I spent my time. I am perpetually dancing with and struggling against the art of time management as a small business owner, and there are still long days, but at least I can adjust my schedule taking into account what feels most natural for me. I didn’t want to spend my whole career struggling against a system that had been created without anyone’s well-being in mind.

Inspired Living with Briar Winters by Ashley Neese
How do you strengthen your intuition?
For me, the best way to do this is to get quiet. To tune out a lot of the noise, both literal and figurative, that surrounds me. Living and working in the heart of New York City can be hectic and draining, but these days, I find that the noise that throws me off the most comes from the internet, which is where my business is based. It’s difficult to do, but bringing more mindfulness to my use of technological tools is helping me to create more space for quiet, and thus better access to my intuition.

Walking in the city is very meditative for me, and it’s one of the main ways that I mull things over and look for answers. I think most of us are bombarded with images and information about what other people are doing (so much of which can be very inspiring), but I think that it can also block our access to the quiet guides within us. I also try not to rush decisions. I prefer to sit with a decision for as long as I need to until I feel sure of which way to go, and if there is someone trying to hurry me along, that’s usually a sign that however good the opportunity sounds, it may not be right for me.

What advice would you give to young women entrepreneurs?
While everyone will have a different journey building their business, I have felt immensely grateful to be a part of a supportive community of other women business owners. A diverse group of people who are in similar stages in their business can be such an incredible source of friendship and moral support, resource sharing, as well as opportunities for collaboration.

Inspired Living with Briar Winters by Ashley NeeseHow do you stay motivated and inspired?
I look to the rhythms of the natural world for inspiration, the shifting of the seasons, the cycles of the moon. These are the most ancient ways of marking time, and I’m always seeking to share ways that we can connect more deeply with them in our daily lives. I’m also constantly on the lookout for beautiful new raw materials to inspire new projects and blends.

More and more small organic farms are popping up every year in the Northeast, reviving the local markets for everything from medicinal herbs, to grains to oils, and I’ve been able to make some amazing connections with local producers to source many more of my raw materials locally. Keeping bees with my partner over the last few years has also been an amazing way to sync with the seasons, becoming aware of exactly what is blooming when, and learning about the connections between ourselves, plants and pollinators.

Motivation for me mostly springs from gratitude. I am so thankful to have the freedom to choose my own path, and to have support on this journey from my partner, my dear friends and family, and my incredible customers. I’m inspired to do good work by the people who have believed in me and have helped me get here.

What are you most grateful for?
Being alive. The opportunity to be here, to give and receive love, to learn and struggle on this beautiful planet is the ultimate gift.

6/16/2015

Walking for Uterine Health and Wellbeing

Conscious Pregnancy // WalkingToday in our Conscious Pregnancy series I am going to share one of my go to practices for uterine health and wellbeing – walking. Preparing for a holistic pregnancy should ideally begin three months to one year before conception. The health of your baby will largely be determined by your health, therefore it is vital to take the time to take good care of yourself before you get pregnant. Women who are nourished on every level often times have more choices during childbirth.

It has been well documented that walking promotes a peaceful mind, reduce stress, improves circulation, encourages digestion, helps manage chronic pain and autoimmune disorders and also ramps up your sex life. Walking is beneficial during our menstrual cycles and for a healthy preconception. During pregnancy I suggest all of my clients walk daily as it’s proven to be a very effective and safe form of movement.

One of the keys to conception and carrying your babe to term is a healthy uterus. This incredible hormone responsive organ is responsible for giving your babe their first home. Isn’t that amazing? I am always so blown away by this. In order for the uterus to be nourished it needs a fresh supply of blood and to be strengthened on a consistent basis.

If you spend many hours sitting each day it cuts off the blood flow to your uterus. This stagnation also reduces blood flow to the ovaries and can over time cause scar tissue to build in the uterus. Many of the women I work with in my practice have cold feet which can often be attributed to poor circulation in the uterus and surrounding organs. A more sedentary lifestyle can correlate with weak uterine muscles.

The good news is you can start improving the health of your uterus today by going for a walk. And yes it really is that simple if you allow it to be.

I see a great deal of  women who exercise in an all or nothing capacity. They hit the yoga studio or spinning class everyday or not at all. The key to maintaining balance in life when it comes to physical activities is to make them as accessible and easy as possible. This all or nothing mentality in the long term depletes our body’s energy because you’re caught up the stress of having to do something everyday, or feeling guilty because you haven’t moved your body much in weeks.

If you’re in that all or nothing category like I was most of my life, I encourage you to ask yourself if it is working for you?

Are you caught up in what you think you should be doing for your health or are you listening to what your body is telling you?

Chances are if you are black and white when it comes to exercise there are some other areas of your life where you could use a little adjusting. Preparing for pregnancy and a new life to enter our lives is an ideal time to get a grip on our ‘all or nothing’ thinking. There will be countless unknowns on our path and the more we settle into the gray areas, the more our bodies will open to receive the life changing gift of motherhood.

You don’t have to do it all.

Remember that.

Taking care of our awe inspiring bodies is often about tuning into them in ways you might not be accustomed to. While moving our bodies to clear energy, promote wellness and prepare them for birth and our new babes is vital, our approach to how we engage with ourselves is equally as important. Often our intention that precedes the action is what really counts. Use this time to get clear on what your intentions are for your physical body moving forward.

Start walking.
Know that every time you make it a point to go outside, breathe in some fresh air and move your body you are creating healthy and supportive home for your future babe.

Keep it simple.
Put on your shoes and go outside. Walk 20-30 minutes 4-5 times per week at a brisk clip to get your heart rate up. If that feels like too much start with 10-15 minutes and work your way up. Eventually aim for 4 miles 2-3 times per week with shorter walks between.

Schedule your outings.
If it helps to keep you on track schedule your walks each week. Take it a step further and plan 2 walks a month with a friend to help you stay accountable.

Honor your body.
If you are already walking when you conceive it will be much easier to walk all the way through your pregnancy. In the first trimester you might not feel like walking as much. Adjust your walks to suit your energy levels but don’t stop your practice. Honor how your body feels without giving into laziness!

Learning how to create an enjoyable and sustainable exercise ritual is made simple by incorporating walking into your life. Supporting the health of our uterus and wellbeing is for all women, not just those trying to conceive. Walking gives us a chance to spend time in nature which is deeply healing and absolutely necessary in our lives. It also gives us permission to SLOW DOWN, really get into our bodies and become in tune with their needs. Walking brings our head down into our hearts. It is likely you will be able to enjoy walking into our old age, develop a relationship with this practice now.

Did you know walking was so good for you? How are you going to make walking part of your life?

xoa

© ASHLEY NEESE 2015