2/24/2015

Warming Foot Soak

Warming Foot Soak by Ashley Neese

Anyone else out there get cold feet? Not referring to pre-wedding jitters over here! I’m talking about actual cold feet that don’t always warm up with thick wool socks. There are a few remedies I’ve found over the years that help, my favorite is a soothing foot soak.

If you have a constitution like mine I bet you are familiar with the cold feet scenairo. It happens mostly in fall and winter and more often at night. When Jason is here I try to warm my feet on his legs in bed but he’s not very accommodating which to be honest doesn’t surprise me. I can’t say I’d welcome icy feet on me if the situation was reversed!

In Chinese Medicine cold feet (and sometimes hands too) are believed to be caused by an imbalance in yin and yang energy. Yin energy is female, cool in nature, and directed inward. Yang energy is masculine, warm in nature and directed outward. When there is insufficient yang energy in the body, hands and feet have a higher chance for being cold, especially in women. Our internal body temperature is higher than it is in men and this can lead to cold extremities, particularly in cooler weather.

Essentially the cold feet dilemma is a case of poor circulation. This can be caused by a number of issues but the most common is weak yang energy. There are several ways we can promote blood circulation in the body to warm our feet. Activities include walking, jogging, qi gong, yoga even hopping on the elliptical at the gym.

Warming Foot Soak by Ashley Neese

Warming Foot Soak by Ashley Neese

Aside from daily movement one of my favorite ways to warm my feet is with an eucalyptus foot soak. I typically soak my feet in the evenings before bed and my feet stay warm until morning. When it’s really cold out I might soak them mid day too depending on how they feel and if I’m home. Usually my daily yoga routine and the evening soaking and is enough to keep the circulation strong and my feet happy.

If possible, soak your feet and lower legs (up to mid calf). I soak up to my ankles and it works great. I add Epsom salt and fresh eucalyptus. Epsom salt is amazing to relax sore muscles, smooth skin and promote rest. Side note, Epsom salts are also great at relieving constipation. Pour 2 c. in a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes. Eucalyptus has powerful antibacterial, antifungal, deodorant and stimulating properties. I purchase mine at a downtown flower market here in L.A. I’ve also seem loads of it grown in parks around town. Lavender and rose are other great add-ins. If you don’t have dried or fresh flowers essential oils work beautifully here. Add a few drops to the hot tub and soak away.

Soaking your feet after a long day at work may sound a little old lady but seriously don’t knock it until you try it. If you’ve had an exceptionally hard day toss in some fresh mint for spa like treatment. Keeping our feet warm is a great way to ground our energy and practice staying present.

Warming Foot Soak by AshleyNeese

Warming Foot Soak

Ingredients + Materials //

 

Method //

Fill basin with hot water. Add eucalyptus and soak feet for 10-20 minutes. Dry off feat and put on warm socks.

 

Who’s ready for a eucalyptus foot soak? I can’t wait to hear your experiences. Wishing you a wonderful evening and happy, warm feet.

xoa

// Photos by Asami Zenri

2/23/2015

Sunchoke Soup with Crispy Leeks and Micro Greens

Sunchoke Soup by Ashley Neese

I love a good soup on cooler days. Few things feel more comforting and nourishing than a bowl of home cooked soup. They are a weekly staple in my home as they are easy to make and store well. Both of my grandmothers had staple soups in their cooking repertoire. Creating my own soups in the kitchen feels like I am staying true to my roots and is one of my favorite winter rituals.

About this time last year I shared a yummy vegan sunchoke soup recipe and I felt like revisiting it. It’s fun to make adjustments to old recipes and experience the differences in flavor. Now that animal broths are part of my diet, I wanted to see how the flavors would change using chicken broth instead of veggie stock. Total game changer!

As I work on my own fertility I’m going to start adding information in that vein that is helpful along the way. It’s great to know that specific foods are good for growing babies but even more helpful to know why. I am excited to start sharing more of my experience working with clients and my research into this field with you. For reference you can also use the ‘search’ function on the blog side bar to pull up fertility and pregnancy related posts.

Sunchoke Soup by Ashley Neese

Here are five reasons adapted from my previous recipe on why sunchokes are great for pregnant mamas.

1. Keeps your gut healthy. Sunchokes have high concentrations of inulin, a non-digestable fiber that acts as a prebiotic (food that the “good” bacteria in our gut loves) in the GI tract. Consuming prebiotic foods is an easy way to keep gut bacteria happy and keep harmful bacteria at bay.

2. Liver cleansing. This root vegetable is high in sulfur containing amino acids which support the livers detoxification process.

3. Blood building. Consuming just a cup of sunchokes can provide you with 25% of the RDI for iron. We need this essential mineral for maintaining adequate levels of oxygen in the blood – a key component in immune health. When your immune system is strong it supports your baby to have a strong immune system as well.

4. Stabilizes blood sugar. Sunchokes are filling without spiking blood sugar and keeping blood sugar stable is key to preventing gestational diabetes.

5. Keeps you regular. Constipation can be an issue in pregnancy. Sunchokes have large quantities of fiber thanks to their inulin which helps to bulk up stools. Having regular bowel movements is necessary for cancer prevention.

5. Hydrating. Electrolytes are a primary element in staying hydrated. Sunchokes are an excellent source of potassium which is a heart friendly electrolyte.

Sunchoke Soup by Ashley Neese

Sunchoke Soup by Ashley Neese

Adding crispy leeks and micro greens gives an extra punch of nutrition and flavor to this nourishing soup. Crispy leeks are so easy to make just be sure to keep an eye on the oven as there is a very fine line between crispy and burnt. I’ve had to learn this lesson several times myself ;)

Use whatever micro greens you can get. These little greens back a potent punch of chlorophyll and have loads of vitamins to keep you healthy. Don’ be afraid to add a giant handful of these cute greens to each serving. Be sure to wash them well and if possible pick them up from your local farmers market, they will be fresher and last longer in the fridge.

Like most soups, this one tastes so much better the second day. I suggest making a double recipe and freezing some. It’s easy to reheat and it is good to get in the habit of batch cooking before you have a child. If you have kids there is no time like the present to build this practice into your routine. I like to say, cook once, eat several times. 

Sunchoke Soup by Ashley Neese

Sunchoke Soup with Crispy Leeks and Micro Greens

Serves 6

 

Ingredients //

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red potato, washed and chopped
  • 1 lb. sunchokes, washed and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 leeks, washed and sliced thin
  • Celtic sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

 

To finish //

  • 4 leeks, washed, sliced
  • 2 c. micro greens

 

Method //

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the coconut oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, potato, sunchokes and celery for about 8 minutes or until turning a golden color. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Pour in the broth and add the leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes.

While the soup is cooking prepare the crispy leeks. Sauté the leeks in olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat for a few minutes until bright green. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop them in the preheated oven and bake until crispy.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with crispy leeks and micro greens. Enjoy!

Soup will keep 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge and can be frozen for 2 months.

 

Planning to make this recipe? I’d love to know how it goes! Please share in the comments or tag me over on Instagram, @ashley_neese. Wishing you a wonderful week.

xoa

2/19/2015

Moon Time Tea

MoonTineTea_AshleyNeese

Hello friends! It’s been a busy couple of weeks behind the scenes and I am happy to share a new herbal tea recipe today. This Moon Time Tea is wonderful to drink for premenstrual imbalances and during your cycle to ease tension and promote harmony.

Growing up I had very painful menstrual cycles. I was often in bed for the first day and took handfuls of over the counter pills to dull the pain. In high school I went on birth control (which I do not recommend at all). This was the 90’s and the pill was very popular. Everyone was on it. When I came of birth control in my late 20’s my PMS came back even stronger than I remembered. And it wasn’t just the soreness and cramping, it was very emotional and I would get extremely depressed, like scary depressed before hand.

Until I found herbal medicine to regulate my hormones which in turn regulated my cycles my moon time was very challenging. I didn’t know about charting my cycle with the moon or how to use the distinct phases of my cycle (working on a post about that) to reach deeper levels of awareness and creativity. All I knew at the time was that I felt like a crazy person and I just wanted it to stop.

Moon Time Tea by Ashley Neese

Thankfully with the help of some incredible alternative practitioners I learned how to take care of myself and bring my hormones into balance. It took a couple of years, lots of herbs and some lifestyle changes but today I’ve never been better and my PMS is actually manageable. When I learned that PMS didn’t have to be so bad I was relived. I was brought up to believe that periods were terrible and just to numb them out as much as possible. Today I celebrate my moon time and honor this monthly cycle of letting go and rebirth. Oh I can’t wait to share about that in the next post!

For now, the herbal tea! This recipe is very easy to make and tastes good. It is effective and gentle enough to drink before and during menstruation. I typically drink 3-4 cups of this tea during menstruation and a few days before depending on my PMS symptoms. Herbs work best when taken consistently over time. Try this tea for 3-4 months to get an idea of how it will support you. If you have any allergies to herbs or are on medications that are contraindicated for herbs please talk to your health care practitioner.

Please note this tea is not going to knock out pain in the same way as an over the counter medication like Advil. Herbs are much more nuanced in their capabilities. Before herbs I had to take handfuls of Advil during my moon time. Today I take maybe 1 or 2 if things are really crazy and drink tea. I’ve been on this journey for years so please use your own intuition and guidance – ultimately you know what is right for your body.

Moon Time Tea combines some of my favorite herbs for women’s health. Each one has specific functions which I will explain below. If you buy the herbs in bulk you can maker a large batch which will last for several months. This tea also makes a wonderful gift for women’s friends and can be a great teaching tool for younger women learning about their cycles.

Moon Time Tea by Ashley Neese

Chamomile is a very effect and soothing flower that is known to reduce the severity of muscle cramps and tension. This potent flower also eases anxiety and depression.

Dandelion Leaf cools and cleanses the liver which is the main organ that breaks down hormones like estrogen when levels get too high. In Chinese medicine the liver is associated with anger so taking good care of this organ will help reduce irritability. Dandelion leaf is also a great diuretic which helps remove extra water from our system – less water can often mean less cramping. It contains high levels of potassium.

Ginger is a potent warming herb that eases digestion and relives nausea. Ginger also helps increase vitality and helps nutrient absorption.

Raspberry Leaf is the mother herb of uterine health. Keeping the uterus well toned is very important for overall wellness and pain reduction during menstruation. Raspberry leaf has high levels of vitamins C and E and contains calcium and iron.

Vitex is a powerful hormone balancing herb that has been used for ages to treat menstrual irregularities, regulate reproductive cycles and ease PMS symptoms. Vitex reduces cramps, depression and inflammation. This herb can be taken by itself to bring your cycle into balance and is best taken over a course of at least four months to start as it takes time to work.

Moon Time Tea by Ashley Neese

A few more notes on PMS. It is really important during this time to eat lots of veggies and whole foods. Meditation and yoga are great practices that can also balance our endocrine system and bring us long term relief. Even drinking tea can be a meditation. Use your tea time to slow down, reflect and count your blessings.

In the recipe below I have written out instructions for making this tea as an infusion. This is the way I like to prepare it during my cycle so it is always on hand. Allowing the herbs to steep for longer periods of time helps to extract their medicinal qualities. The longer they steep the stronger the tea. If you prefer to make it in single servings that is fine too. Make this work for your lifestyle.

In herb schools measurements are typically done by weight or parts. I like to use parts as it’s more of a folk medicine tradition and you can make the recipe as large or small as you like, just keep the ratio. This is a very easy method for working with herbs and one that I’ve used for years.

MoonTimeTea_AshleyNeese6

Moon Time Tea

Ingredients //

 

Method //

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well. Remove 1/4 c. herbs and place them in a large glass jar. Pour 4 cups of  boiling water over the herbs and fill the jar. Cover and let steep for 20-40 minutes. Strain and serve. You can easily reheat this on the stove when you are ready to have a cup. I usually have 4 cups per day during pre moon and full moon time.

I linked to my main source for dried herbs in the recipe. Dried organic ginger root sells out quickly. You can search locally in your area or use ginger tea bags in your brew. Use 1 tea bag per 2 c. of water.

 

Dosage  //

3-4 cups of tea per day during PMS and menstruation.

 

Do you have any favorite herbs for your moon time? I’d love to know. Feel free to share in the comments and/or ask questions.

xoa

// Photos by Sera Lindsey

2/15/2015

Mindful Nourishment No. 2

MindfulNourishment14_AshleyNeese

Hello dears! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. I have a much needed day off and am excited to write about our last Mindful Nourishment event. Mariana and I  already planning for the next one and have some other fun workshops in development for Spring/Summer.

As some of you know I have been steeped in the practice of mindful eating for many years. It is a practice I guide clients through and one I shared in a public setting for the first time last winter here in Los Angeles.

Our second Mindful Nourishment gathering was such a fun an grounding evening. I am grateful for everyone that came to participate and share this experience together. More and more I am seeing the need we all have for real, live experiences. We need to come together to create, talk and connect in meaningful ways. This is the future.

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment  by  Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

mindful eating, healing, wellness, dtla, seasonal, cooking, meditation, practice, communal, holistic nutrition

mindful eating, healing, wellness, dtla, seasonal, cooking, meditation, practice, communal, holistic nutrition

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

MindfulNourishment3_AshleyNeese

Mindful Nourishment by Ashley Neese

 

Our evening begins by cooking a meal together followed by eating meditation. We wrap with a discussion on what we experienced. This is often where I learn so much about others and is in many ways the high light for me. It brings me so much joy to introduce the practice of mindful eating in a supportive environment. These dinners are a true merging of my passions and Mariana’s and we look forward to continuing these dinners to further build our community and share such a unique experience.

Stay tuned for the next gathering!

xoa

// Gorgeous photos  by Sera Lindsey.

2/9/2015

Rose Water Toner

Rose Water Tone by Ashley Neese

Roses are one of my favorite flowers. My grandmother grew roses in her back patio and had dried rose petals in every bathroom. Her roses were fragrant with large petals and I loved watching her tend to them.

Using rose water toner as part of your skincare ritual is a wonderful way to calm and soothe the skin. Rose toner is cooling in nature and helps to reduce inflammation, minimizes the appearance of scars and also balances our skin’s pH. Rose water toner is loaded with antioxidants which help to strengthen cells and boost skin regeneration. This organic skin smoother will also help your face glow, giving it a natural, bright appearance.

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Roses have been used for ages to calm and soothe the heart. Energetically they are very effective medicine for nourishing the spirit. Roses give us an opportunity to see our true beauty by balancing our emotions. For a troubled heart roses are the way to go. Each time I spray this rose toner on my face I am instantly grounded and at peace. Rose water toner helps me stay heart centered and soothes frayed nerves after a particularly busy or stressful day.

As we gear up for Valentine’s day I thought it would be fun to share a recipe involving roses. I’ve been purchasing rosewater toner for years and since I started making my own last summer I haven’t looked back. Most purchased hydrosols smell old because they have such a short shelf life. Hydrosol is the name of the process that is used to stem distill more fragile plant material. When you steam fresh roses at home the water lasts longer, especially if you add in some organic witch hazel. Some recipes call for vodka to preserve the water but I prefer to use witch hazel as it is very gentle on the skin.

RoseWater Toner by Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner by AshleyNeese

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

There are many ways to make rose water toner. You can simply add a few drops of essential rose oil to distilled water or make a ‘sun rose petal tea’ by placing the petals in a bowl of water and letting it steep in the sun for hours. This can be a really nice practice on the summer solstice. Given that it is winter I went with a simmering method.

Because this rosewater is so fresh I suggest keeping it in the fridge. If you add the witch hazel it will last a couple of weeks. Rose water toner makes amazing gifts too! I love surprising friends with a bottle.  Also please note that the simmering method will make your water brown as it takes the color from the water. If making a gift I suggest bottling in a blue or brown bottle.

Rose Water Toner by  Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Use the toner after you wash your face or anytime you need to ground in and relax. When I’m home I use it multiple times a day. Oh and bonus, you can totally use this rose water (minus the oils and witch hazel) in other recipes. Even a simple rose petal tea can be delicious and healing.

Be sure to use organic, untreated roses. They can be challenging to find but it’s important so you’re not creating a water full of chemicals. I got mine from a nice neighbor ;)

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner by Ashley Neese

Rose Water Toner

Ingredients + Materials //

 

Method //

Separate the rose petals and place in a medium pot. Pour the distilled water over the roses just to cover them. Too much water will give you a very diluted rose water. Use a lid that fits inside the pot to gently press the petals down and keep them in the water. Cover the pot with a lid and turn on the heat to low. Simmer on the lowest possible setting until the petals have lost their color. Remove from heat and strain the water. Allow to cool on the counter. Mix in 1-2 tsp. of witch hazel and add a few drops of rose otto oil until desired scent is achieved. Pour rose water into spray bottle and keep in the fridge. It will last 2 weeks.

Are you ready to make rose water toner? Have fun and keep me posted on what you create! Tag me on Instagram @ashley_neese so I can follow along! Also, we put the petals in the bottles just for the photo shoot, I don’t advise putting them in your finished toner.

xoa

// Gorgeous photos by Asami Zenri

© ASHLEY NEESE 2014