soy, corn, sugar beets! oh my! GMO vs YOU

If you’re at the very least slightly tuned into the world then you’re probably well aware of the rise in GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. If you’re not familiar then here’s a brief explanation of what GMOs are:

The Institute for Responsible Technology defines it as “A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.”

credit: http://eatdrinkbetter.com/The Non-GMO Project explains it as “a GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.”

In layman’s terms, scientist are the new farmers. They can literally crossbreed the genes of coldwater fish with tomatoes so that the tomato now can withstand freezing cold temperatures thus allowing more crops to be grown. Doesn’t sound so bad right? More food equates to more people fed…. Technically, yes. But what happens if the fish they are using are farm-raised fish? Farm-raised fish are generally kept in a small overcrowded pens and because they are marinating in such tight corners there is no real filtering of the water going on. So then these fishes become susceptible to diseases and corporate food companies can’t have that so the best thing to combat disease is to add in antibiotics to these fish farms. Need I say more? I think you know where that spirals into. Credits: Dr Axe

To be fair, let’s say these “GMO scientists” are not using fish genes. A different approach to producing more crops is to have herbicide-tolerant plants. No animal gene mixing involved there! The plant is engineered to withstand high levels of pesticides. Using pesticides on our produce is not a new concept for consumers but what is alarming is corporate food companies have been lobbying to raise the allowable limit of these chemical pesticides. So what! What’s the big deal? For one, these are linked to the same pesticides that are drastically killing our honey bees aka nature’s pollinators. Secondly, the crops that are being genetically altered to tolerate these chemicals have less nutritional values than organic crops do. This does more harm to us than not since American physicians have reported a majority of their patients having nutrient deficiencies thus leaving us susceptible to illnesses and abnormalities. In defense, these GM corporations have tried to modify the crops to have more nutritional benefits in them, but the only downfall to that is the human body does not absorb these nutrients in the same manner it would from a natural source. Lastly, the seeds of these genetically engineered crops are able to spread to other areas by way of the wind and have the potential to infect nearby organic farms.

Consumers who support genetically engineered foods for the reason that it can feed the entire world have the right to believe that. Personally, I haven’t seen such a thing happen. Even in terms of Americans having enough to eat, let alone the whole world. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t wish those less fortunate to have a choice between eating nothing and eating frankenstein food. It’s not fair. And it’s not fair that I have to be concerned about GM seeds infecting crops of organic farms. So next time you order popcorn and a Pepsi at the movie theatre just know what it is that you’re really ingesting.

More Information about GMOs:

Seeds of Death: Unveiling The Lies of GMO’s
Living Non-GMO Resources

Sources:

Toxicology Expert Speaks Out About Roundup and GMOs
Labels on Genetically Engineered Food Coming Soon

 

 

brunch: baby spinach + mushroom over quinoa

spinachmushroom

Baby Spinach + Mushroom over Quinoa

  • 2 veggie patties, dr. Praeger’s Black Bean Quinoa
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, baby bellas
  • 2 cups of loosely packed spinach, baby spinach
  1. Cook dr. Praeger’s Black Bean Quinoa veggie burgers per the directions on the package.
  2. Once the patties are almost done add in spinach and mushrooms.
  3. Add in seasonings of your choice. Cover.
    I used black pepper, turmeric, basil, and a touch of sea salt

  4. Let simmer for 4 minutes. Then, enjoy!

sink or float: my experience with float tanks

float-tankI’ve got to admit prior to my first floating session I was quite excited for the experience. I went in with the intention that I was going to have one of my best meditation sessions to date. Idealistically, I thought I would have this mind-blowing life altering epiphany from the whole experience. Welp, I guess in hindsight I got just that but not in the way I intended!

1:49pm
I arrived to the appointment early and eager to get started. After signing a waiver form agreeing that I would not sue the company I was then escorted to my private room. The room was lovely and had a nice calming zen feel to it. I shut and locked my door then laid out all my “goodies”. The night prior I had packed a bag full of essential oils, coconut oil, avocado oil, crystals, a portable speaker and some other unmentionables. Let’s just say I was very prepared.

2:08pm
My initial thought as I sunk down into the pod was that the water didn’t feel like 95°F (35°C). Little did I know things were just about to heat up. The first ten minutes were pretty relaxing. They played a serene ocean wave audio track to ease me into the session. Ironically, I spent the first four minutes fidgeting with the ambient light setting and the spaghetti noodle for neck support. I spent another three minutes trying to prevent myself from bumping into the walls back and forth like a ping pong machine.

2:15pm
Aww finally, stillness. After my ten minute warm up I was feeling relaxed and very comfortable. I began focusing on my breathing and then slowly drifted off into my meditation. All was well. Until…

2:25pm
Some ten minutes had passed by when I started to feel this sensation in my body. Was this my kundalini experience!! Not exactly. I was starting to feel flushed and the sound of my heartrate was amplified. I was feeling the onset of dizziness and nausea take me under. My mind felt distorted and expansive. I opened my eyes and couldn’t place whether the ceiling of the pod was 3ft in front of me or 5ft in front of me. I lost perception. I found myself floating naked in the pod, watching as the ambient light changed from deep red, peach, yellow, green, blue, purple then white. I lied there in a delirious state of mind until I could no longer bear the heat anymore. Gently, I managed to slouch up so I could reach the handle to the pod and let in some cool air; keeping in mind to be careful not to make sudden moves since I was already quite queasy.

2:38pm
I sunk back down into the half-opened pod, hoping that maybe the cool air would ease my symptoms. Again, I tried to nestle back into mediation with high hopes that I could focus now. Mind over matter, I thought. I should have quit while I was ahead. I continued on for a few minutes but my lightheadedness was worsening and there was no way I could concentrate in that kind of condition. I tossed the idea around of quitting the session early until finally I had no choice but to follow my gut feeling, literally. I got out the pod and immediately tip-toed over to the dark shower stall on the other side of my room. Thank goodness it had a shower bench built into the stall which was helpful in my time of disorientation.

To conclude, I think the shower was my favorite part of the whole experience…well the tea they provided at the end was pretty nice too! Overall, I didn’t have the meditative breakthrough I would have wished for but I’m glad I tried the float tank out. I’m not eager to give it another shot but I don’t think I would entirely rule it out. Let me know what your thoughts are on float tanks. Have you had an experience similar or different than mine?

courtesy of http://blog.essioshower.com/

aromatherapy: a gift for mom

With Mother’s Day just being only a couple of days away hopefully you’ve already thought of the right gift to present to your mom. If not, you’re in luck, I have just the perfect gift idea for any mother who appreciates soothing aromas.

AROMATHERAPY 101

Aromatherapy has essentially been around for centuries although it being considered “therapeutic” or an “alternative medicine” is a little bit more new age. Nevertheless, it’s remained a staple in many cultures especially ancient Chinese and Indian civilizations. Aromatherapy is simply using the aroma from the oil of natural plants, or essential oils, to induce organic healing to your mind, body, and spirit. There are hundreds even thousands of aromas you can use and they all can help our physiology in different ways. Some of the more popular ones being lavender, bergamot, rose, and peppermint.

Lavender
-aids in falling asleep
-alleviates colds & flus
-distressor

Bergamot
-alleviates anxiety
-helps skin irritations like psoriasis and eczema
-reduces fear and depression

Rose
-antiseptic
-boosts the libido
-alleviates diarrhea

Peppermint
-aids with headaches
-stimulates concentration and mental clarity
-soothes aches and sunburns

Keep in mind, while essential oils are natural please keep in mind some people may be allergic to specific plants so use caution. Also, consult your doctor should you be pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant before using essential oils. 

CRAFTING YOUR GIFT

I chose lavender for my mother since she had mentioned she was having trouble unwinding after work plus I knew it would help her have a more peaceful sleep. I started off by going to Michaels Craft Stores, they had a sale going on for 12″x 12″ paper running at 5 sheets for $1.00. I chose designs that correlated with Mother’s Day and also my mother’s favorite color, green. In addition, I purchased unscented tea light candles from Michaels since they were on sale for $1.49 for a pack of 50.

After Michaels, I headed to the dollar store to grab some glue sticks since sadly the ones I had were all dried up. I bought two at the price of $0.50 each. As for finding the essential oil, it was a little bit more trickier and costly than the other items. I recommend going to your local natural store (Sprouts, Whole Foods, Co-Ops) to find the essential oils. I purchased the lavender essential oil from my Central Market for about $9 for a 30mL bottle which will last my mother at least 3-6 months.

On the way home I stopped by my USPS center that’s conveniently located down the street from me so I could quickly grab a priority shipping box that was large enough to put all these items in. When I got home, I made me some dandelion tea then got busy with my Mother’s Day project. I cut the 12″x 12″ decorative paper to the measurements of my mailing box and used the glue stick to paste it to the insides of the box to transform it from plain to eye popping.

Keep in mind, even if you don’t need to ship your gift to your mom you could purchase a regular gift box and decorate the inside just as I did with my USPS box. I already had packing paper and pretty tissue paper in my big bag of arts + crafts that came in handy for this project. 30 minutes later and with a little tender loving care I was ready to place my handcrafted card into the box and seal ‘er up! I took my completed box of goodies back to USPS and paid $13.45 for 1-3 business day shipping on an 11″ x 8-1/2″ box, insured for up to $50 included in the price.

Note: If you need to mail your gift still then plan on paying extra at the mailing center if you plan to get it there by Sunday, or plan to have it arrive late.

Here are some photos to help guide you along the way. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and may the aromas of nature’s best soothe you!

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food for body mind soul: veggie fried rice

Along with many others, I share a love for fried rice but buying it constantly from local restaurants can become expensive and over time quite unhealthy. So if you can’t beat em, join em! Here’s a simple, delicious and plentiful recipe for vegetable fried rice.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of uncooked jasmine rice
  • ¾ cup of sliced leek, or yellow onion
  • ½ cup of diced carrot
  • handful of mushrooms, diced
  • ½ cup of diced celery
  • ½ clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of your choice of oil

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice using the directions provided on your packaging. While the rice is cooking, go ahead and slice or dice your vegetables.
    IMG_2509IMG_2510
  2. Add in your oil to a skillet or wok, saute all of your vegetables on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
    *I like my vegetables to still be a bit crisp so not to lose all its nutrients but if you like them to be softer then cook for an additional 2 minutes
    IMG_2511
  3. Stir in your cooked rice to the skillet of vegetables. Stir until the vegetables and rice are evenly distributed, no more than 2 minutes.
  4. Scoot your rice and vegetable mixture to the far perimeter of the skillet so that you have an empty space in the middle of your skillet. You’ll want to crack the egg into this empty space and immediately start scrambling it, no more than 1 minute.
    *It’s okay if the yolk starts running into the vegetable/rice mixture
  5. Once the egg is fairly scrambled, make sure to distribute it evenly into the vegetable/rice mixture.
  6. Add in the fish sauce and any other seasonings to taste. Remove skillet from heat.
  7. Serve! Pair with other dishes if you’d like.
    IMG_2508

Note: feel free to mix in or take out vegetables for your desired taste

10 Things I Learned From SXSW 2016

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  1. Say no to texting and drinking
  2. Always look both ways for pedicabs, trains, unicyclists, and dancing bears before crossing the street
  3. Jealousy is a recipe for disaster
  4. Doppelgängers do exist so double check you’re talking to the right person before you dish out your dirt
  5. Remember “PKW”. Phone, Keys, Wallet at all times
  6. Say no to seafood + food trucks
  7. Boots were made for walking. High heels were made for sitting.
  8. If someone comes up and offers you “blue or yellow” do walk away, quickly
  9. During SXSW free CD’s are the equivalent to candy on Halloween
  10. When in doubt take the main streets, alleys might be quicker but they’re a slippery slope downhill

life under the milky way

Happy New Year to you all!

Boy, this new year is already off to a memorable start. I brought in the new year with my mother in our Guesthouse 1109 room in Maputo, Mozambique. It was a very simple New Year celebration but one of great reflection too. I found Maputo to be pretty quiet around the holiday; it was a ghost town! One thing I did find fascinating was the fact that the primary language was Portuguese. The city felt like an Afro-Caribbean influence; one similiar to Jamaica or even Costa Rica. Bright flowers flourished throughout the town and homes were covered in eye-popping colors. I felt right at home in my orange, pink, and yellow dresses.

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After venturing Maputo for a few days, we traveled southwest to Swaziland, or better yet the Kingdom of Swaziland. Our first stop was to Hlane National Park where the impala roam and the lions roar! We spent our days in a hut made of clay and thatch. The days were warm and the nights were cool. There was no electricity in our huts so we made due with candles at night to light up the rooms. Hot water was not absent though—gas heating made our showers more pleasure!

The most memorable part about Hlane National Park is the view from up above, the stars! Settled just below the Milky Way was my family and I gazing up above at stars we had never been fortunate to see shine so bright before. There were more specks of stars in the sky than there are spots on 100 Dalmatians. It was simply magical! The only thing that could distract me from that sight was the grunting of the hippos and the fluttering of bats near my head. In other words, I was outta there!

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After our adventurous time in Hlane it was off to our next destination, Ezulwini, to visit the Mantenga Nature Reserve & Swazi Cultural Village. Once there, we were greeted by one of the Swazi men. He guided us through their village and explained the differences between each hut. If I remember correctly, there were separate huts for young females and another for young males. There was a hut for a man’s 1st wife and also another for his 2nd wife, as they believe men should have multiple wives. There was a distinct hut for the Sangoma, or rather a spiritual healer/medicine man. In his hut people would go to get either holistic remedies for illness or ask for protection during long travels. The sangoma could also contact the spiritual realm and receive messages from his ancestors to pass it down to the patient.

imageI did find this to be right up my alley so after the previewing of the Swazi traditional dances I headed back to the Sangoma hut to get some spiritual advice. Afterall, I had been searching and waiting for the right “psychic” if you will to help me communicate to my spirit guides, or in Swazi culture they use the term ancestor. After crawling inside a bite-size doorway, the Sangoma and myself began the divination to the ancestors. Now, there were no sage burning or chanting in different tongues preformed. He just simply inhaled and exhaled a few times and focused on his “tinhlola”, which was stones and shells, for guidance.

I had about a 15 minute reading and in that time he pinpointed exactly what I asked my spirit guides to validate for me. He described everything that my birth natal chart had also revealed about my past, present, and future.This did calm any doubts I had. After my reading I decided to do a little investigating for myself. My Sangoma seemed like he was in his 30s so I felt comfortable speaking frankly to him. We started talking about his journey and how he came to get in his field, this was helpful to me as I wanted to also follow similar paths related to counseling or healing people. Coincidentally, I inquired about his zodiac sign because I wanted to know if he was a Pisces or not since Pisces are naturally very intuitive. He did not know what zodiac meant so I asked for his birthday instead, turns out he is a Pisces. Not just any Pisces though, his birthday is the next day after mine so we are nearly birthday twins! No wonder I enjoyed his company and felt much at ease. Overall, I’d say my time with the Sangoma will be remembered for years to come.

 

home sweet home, or not

imageIf you’re anything like my family then you should find that the holiday season can bring joy, bonding, laughter, and the inevitable arguments! It’s true, something about everyone flying home for the holidays and being cooped up in the same house with relatives brings up unwanted tension. Though, this may sound tedious it can also be rewarding for your growth.

It is not too common that people will have friendships with people who share opposite views, opposite activities, and opposite tempers. In some retrospec, people naturally will befriend those who share similar views. Not to say that people only want clones of themselves in their inner circle but for the most part people want friendships with people they will not collide heads with. It is this same reasoning why you might be prone to have disagreements with your relatives when you’re shacking up with them for the holidays. This is especially true for siblings.

Fortunately, your families can be great teachers for you. Most families are made up of different personalities; some more dominant than others. Either way, your family can teach you patience, compassion, empathy, and effective communicate. This is an excellent benefit to you especially if you live in the real world where you will run into people who do not think the same way as you. I’ve come up a 5-step guideline to make amends if you are in a heated argument with a relative.

  1. Be patient
  2. Listen to them
  3. Try understanding them
  4. Empathize
  5. Apologize

Let’s say you’re faced with a difficult and stubborn sibling. It helps you to elevate mentally by taking a step back, be patient and listen to their opinion or the problem at bay. This can be hard for some people because they are so eager to speak that they miss what the other person is telling them and inevitably this will lead to misunderstanding and no real resolution. However if you can be patient then you will be able to clearly listen to their issue and they will be more open to give you that same respect when it is your turn to speak. Once you have practiced being patient and listening you will find it easier to understand your sibling. Nevertheless, their guard and defense will also dissolve thus allowing you to relax too. Once you’re back in a calm open-minded mental state you can implement empathy to help alleviate any remaining discomfort the other might have.

Lastly, apologize. Apologize? Yes, apologize! I can imagine this will be tough for some to grasp but just hear me out. For example, say your sibling and yourself had an exchange of words that were hurtful to one another. Once you’ve gotten through steps 1-4, you two should already be on the verge of completely making amends so realistically it won’t be that hard to finish with an I’m sorry and hug it out. But I like to break things down for an easier digestion so allow me to explain why an apology is critical. An apology can serve as a benefit both for yourself and in this scenario, your sibling. Even if your sibling was definitely in the wrong it is still important to apologize to them. Your apology is not a sign of weakness it is actually a strength. Even if your sibling just cannot muster up the words of “I’m sorry” to you it is okay because you’ve already received your apology– the apology from yourself to yourself.

As I mentioned, an apology serves the both of you. If you apologize to your sibling, and they are immature they may think that they have won the battle. But this is far from true. When you apologize to them you are the real one gaining peace of mind and showcasing your strength. You gain peace because you’ve actually just manipulated the discussion to your favor. You’ve shifted the energy into one that is more light-hearted. You are the one in control just like a maestro is in control of the direction of his orchestra. Unbeknownst to your sibling they are too consumed in their ego to see what is happening below the surface. To be honest, your apology is most beneficial to you more so than the sibling. When you say “hey, I’m really sorry for yelling at you and calling you out of your name” that is in essence an apology to yourself. Because deep down you know that you are kind, peaceful, and loving so when you act out by yelling, cursing, slamming doors it is our of your character and you need to apologize to your mind, body, and soul for breathing in that negative toxic energy.

To delve deeper, think of a time you were really upset with someone. Did you yell? Were you stressed out? Did you punch the wall? Did you seek out revenge? All of these things are poisonous to yourself and you’re really causing dis-ease to your body. Not to be confused with disease, but rather a body not in ease. What happens when you yell? You get stressed and irritable. This stress can most definitely cause dis-ease to your physical body. You might get a headache, lose your voice from yelling, or even discover some new gray hairs. When you are angry and you punch a wall you can cause harm to your hand. Or if you drive off in a rage you could get into a car accident. I mean seriously, even strokes can be triggered by intense stress! So do yourself some justice and apologize for your actions. That apology is owed to your body from the stress that you caused it and that apology will summon the other person to drop their anger towards you. Thus allowing you two to be in harmony again and more importantly allowing you to regain your peace again. If you skip out on apologizing then you are susceptible to having unfinished business which will likely cause underlying tension between the two of you. Which will likely cause you more stress and make you vulnerable to the same argument resurfacing. So this is why I highly recommend finishing with a genuine apology.

As for your sibling or the person you were arguing with, they may never apologize to you but that’s okay because you are not dependent on their apology or lack thereof. Ironically, your sibling is the one who gets the short end of the stick because they will always be dependent on someone else’s apology and if one is not given to them they will tend to harbour resentment, anger, hatred, and other deep-seated issues which will create disharmonious ease to their physical body. They will find themselves always in confrontation, stressed out, and more prone to exhaustion. Furthermore, the negative energies will bog them down so much that other people may find their aura to be unsettling. It is unfortunate but that kind of person will always be in defense mode and will lead a pessimistic life if they do not change for the better. So again I say to make amends the best way you can with others in order to gain your self-peace and happiness. Be thankful of those who are different than you as they will be your learning curve to creating the peaceful life you desire.