Raw Vegan Mediterranean Wrap

Raw vegan Mediterranean wraps

I love fast food.

No, no, no! Not, that kind of fast food!

I’m talking about nourishing, plant-based meals that take under 10 minutes to make.

We can call it… Speedy Supper.

Or… Fleet Feast.

Perhaps Swift Snack is most fitting.

Either way, the best meals are the ones that not only taste amazing and are loaded with enzymes, minerals, life-force and nutrients, but also come together in just a few minutes.

Because when I’m hungry, I’m hungry.

There’s a common misconception that raw food is a lot of work, takes too much time and requires a lot of pre-planning.

While this can sometimes be the case, especially for the more complicated dehydrated recipes, it most certainly doesn’t have to be!

In fact, some of my favorite things to eat on a day-to-day basis come together very quickly and require zero dehydration.

While I do enjoy the occasional dehydrated raw vegan comfort food, I usually don’t have the time or patience to make something overly complicated.

I’m a huge fan of raw wraps in particular, because they’re more interesting and generally more satisfying to eat as a meal than a salad, are extremely versatile, and take about 5 minutes to throw together.

They can be as filling or as light as you want, can be made for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or just as a simple snack any time of day!

This wrap is bursting with bright, savory flavors and is packed with healthy fats and cleansing greens.

You can use any raw wrapper you like to make this recipe… my favorite wraps to use are any brand of raw coconut wraps, or the “WrawP” brand of veggie wraps. I used their original flavor for this recipe, because it’s pretty mild and doesn’t distract from the delicious ingredients inside!

I’m not sponsored by WrawP in any way, but I’ll link them here if you want to give them a try.

One other thing to note about this recipe is that the main flavor components inside the wrap are pretty salty and pack a punch, so I highly recommend packing it full of fresh greens to balance everything out. I used mixed organic micro greens for mine, but you can use whatever you like.

This recipe is either a large meal for one, or a hearty lunch for two when cut in half.

Ingredients:

1 Sheet Original WrawP Veggie Wrap or other

1 tbsp kalamata olive tapenade or spread
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked overnight in water or pre-packed in olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1/2 a medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small ripe fresh tomato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups tender leafy greens (such as spinach) or sprouts of choice
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. If using a Wrawp brand veggie wrap, soften it first by rubbing about 1/2 tsp warm water onto the surface, and let it sit for about 30 seconds.
  2. Smash the avocado onto the wrap, evenly coating the surface of the wrap, leaving about 1/2 inch uncoated on all sides.
  3. Spread the olive tapenade evenly over the avocado.
  4. Line the sun-dried tomatoes over top, keeping in mind to wrap the sheet on the long side. This creates a much bigger wrap with more room for ingredients.
  5. Add fresh tomato and sliced cucumber evenly over the wrap.
  6. Sprinkle on a healthy dose of Italian seasoning.
  7. Pack as many fresh greens/sprouts on top as you can, and roll the wrap closed.

Enjoy! ❤

Magnesium, the Miracle Mineral

Magnesium Salt

In all my years of stressing over one thing or another, nothing has helped me quite like magnesium – specifically, magnesium chloride.

When we’re stressed, our bodies dump magnesium through waste processes. This is one reason why it’s so important to include magnesium in your health routine, especially if you suffer from anxiety or stress frequently.

Magnesium is a very crucial mineral that most people are severely lacking in their diets. It’s extremely important for maintaining mental health and stability, aids immensely in the relaxation of joints and muscle tissue, and helps to prevent calcification in the body.

I often notice immediate relief from muscle cramping and joint pain when I apply magnesium chloride topically.

Magnesium regulates the “HPA Axis”, or the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which in turn regulates our stress response.

“Supplementing Mg levels in mice has been demonstrated to reduce the expression of anxiety-related behavior” – Neil Bernard Boyle, Clare Lawton, and Louise Dye.

While many people see improvements in their stress response after using a bio-available source of magnesium, it’s also been shown to improve symptoms of depression.

The same article written by the individuals mentioned above – published in the US National Library of Medicine – states that “An impoverished Mg (magnesium) diet is associated with depression in humans”, and “Low serum and cerebrospinal fluid Mg levels have also been associated with depressive symptomology and suicidality”.

There are several different types of magnesium including magnesium sulfate and magnesium citrate, however there is some controversy on their bioavailability, as well as concerns that they may be dehydrating due to their hydrophilic properties.

Both of these types of magnesium are commonly used to relieve both stress and occasional constipation, and are generally more inexpensive than magnesium chloride.

My absolute favorite ways to use magnesium are in sprays and soaks.

There are several different brands of magnesium spray. Some tend to have a strange oily feeling that doesn’t go away, while others absorb right into the skin and leave very little residue on the skin’s surface. The brand I like to use is this one. I’m not at all sponsored by this company, it’s just much less oily than others I’ve tried.

When first starting to use magnesium spray, start off slowly to acclimate your body to its new magnesium levels. 10-15 sprays per day is a good place to start!

What I Use Magnesium For….

For sore muscles after hiking or working out, I will use 5-10 sprays of magnesium chloride solution on the area and massage it in. I tend to notice effects immediately with this method.

Magnesium spray is also wonderful for headache relief – I am a common headache-haver, and nothing works quite like magnesium spray. For headaches, I massage 4-6 sprays onto the back of my neck, shoulders, temples and hairline, and then repeat several times after the first coat has dried.

For menstrual cramps, I will rub 5-10 sprays on my abdomen, and then repeat multiple times after each coat dries. For those with minor menstrual pain, I could see magnesium working especially well.

For stress & anxiety, I will dissolve half a tub of magnesium chloride flakes into a bucket of very warm water and use as a foot soak for 15-25 minutes. This method works best for me as a mental relaxant, and is also a soothing, comforting experience all the way around.

I’ll usually add 3-4 drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil to the water to make it an even more relaxing experience!

If you have a bathtub, I highly recommend adding magnesium chloride flakes to a full bath. If you’re like me and don’t have a bathtub (we’ll get through this together) magnesium foot soaks work almost just as well.

For restful sleep, I will basically just apply magnesium chloride spray to my entire body, focusing on my abdominal area, calves, feet, neck and shoulders.

I also use magnesium chloride spray whenever I think about it, just for magnesium maintenance!

Make Your Own Magnesium Spray…

If you’d like a more economical option or just don’t feel like going out and searching for a pre-made solution, you can totally make your own magnesium spray!

Just dissolve magnesium chloride flakes in hot distilled water in a 1:1 ratio!

It’s that easy.

You can add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil if you like, as well.

The Bottom Line…

Overall, magnesium is one of my top go-to’s in uncomfortable situations, from stress to headaches. In my opinion, it’s a must-have wellness tool for everyone, especially those dealing with sleep issues, anxiety, depression or aches and pains.

If you want to do your own research on magnesium, here is the article I referenced towards the beginning of this post. It’s filled with more cool studies, information and science about this amazing mineral!

What are your experiences with magnesium? I want to know!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Raw Vegan Sushi Roll

Before I became vegetarian, I loved sushi.

Not vegetarian sushi, either. My absolute favorites were salmon and tuna nigiri, unagi (eel) rolls, and anything with tobiko on top (those little orange fish eggs).

Sushi was definitely one of my favorite foods growing up.

Ever since I announced to my mom that I was going vegetarian nine years ago, I have relied on cucumber and avocado rolls to get me through my sushi cravings.

While regular cucumber and avocado rolls are absolutely delicious, I recently got a craving for an even healthier option.

Seeing as I’m currently following a raw vegan diet, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make yet another replacement for an old favorite.

So, I went to the grocery store and bought myself a pack of nori sheets.

And thus, this recipe was born!

It took me about fifteen minutes to make, and the hardest part was chopping the veggies.

Feel free to switch it up and add whatever you like in the middle!

Fresh marinated coconut meat, carrot, bell pepper, jicama, sprouts, even mushrooms. Whatever floats your sushi boat!

In place of rice, I made a sunflower seed pâté seasoned with a little miso paste and rice vinegar.

In my opinion, the main flavor components in a veggie sushi roll are usually the soy sauce, seaweed and wasabi, so I just needed a mild base to compliment the primary flavors. It works perfectly and it’s so easy to make!

There’s one thing I just need to throw out there before we get started:

I’m terrible at rolling sushi.

And you know what? It’s OK if you’re terrible at it too! All we can do is try our best. We can be terrible at it together, united as one uncultured sushi-craving health-nut. (I’m kidding)

But seriously, it’ll still taste delicious no matter how perfect or imperfect it is. I promise.

(If you do have sushi-rolling skills, hit me up. I would love to learn how to not suck at it!)

Here we go.

Ingredients:

Sunflower Seed “Rice”:

2 cups sunflower seeds
1 tsp miso paste
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/8 tsp organic monk fruit or stevia 
1 tbsp sesame seeds 
5-6 tbsp filtered or spring water, to blend

For Everything Else:

1 ripe avocado
1 medium organic cucumber
1 package raw or toasted nori sheets
3 tbsp tamari or nama shoyu
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 tsp sesame seeds or gomasio for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a high speed blender (or food processor) blend the sunflower seeds with the rest of the rice ingredients, adding two tbsp of water at a time until emulsified, but still very thick. I used a Vitamix plunger to really work the mixture into a paste.
  2. Once blended, smear 3 tbsp pâté onto a nori sheet, about an inch off-center to one end of the sheet.
  3. Add thinly sliced matchsticks of avocado and cucumber into the middle of the roll.
  4. Using both hands, begin rolling the sushi tightly beginning at the end closest to where you smeared the pâté.
  5. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the roll into individual pieces of sushi. I like dipping the knife into a bit of water after each slice to keep it from sticking. (You can also take this opportunity to clean up the less desirable sushi roll ends by eating them. hehe.)
  6. Serve with a side of tamari and wasabi, or mix the two together to make a sauce like I did to drizzle over top. You can even add some pickled ginger to the party if you like.
  7. Top with gomasio or sesame seeds.

Enjoy! ❤

Adaptogenic Miso Soup

Miso soup

I’ve always enjoyed a little “funk” in my food. Shout-out to any and all fermented veggies, home-made vegan cheeses, wild mushrooms, brine-y olives and what some would call… excessive… amounts of garlic and onion.

I could probably sit and devour an entire jar of kimchi in one sitting….

Anyway.

This soup is salty, spicy, umami and, most importantly, full of minerals and beneficial properties.

You can play around with it and add pretty much whatever you like: Green onion, steamed veggies, leafy greens like spinach or kale, the possibilities are endless!

I kept it pretty simple with this one, mainly because I’m partial to the purity of plain miso broth, and I wanted this to be more of a sipping broth/in-between meals kind of situation.

You can also experiment with different kinds of miso paste such as brown rice, red or sweet white miso. I use chickpea miso for most of my recipes, because it has a saltier, milder, less sweet flavor than other miso pastes I’ve tried.

For this soup, I use whole dried cordyceps mushroom.

Cordyceps is a wonderful medicinal mushroom, boasting countless benefits including the support of lung health, adrenal balance, stress response, immune system function and energy utilization.

Cordyceps is a Jing-nourishing herb, making it wonderful for those with drained energy reserves. You could eat this soup for breakfast as well, especially with the mild energy you may experience from this mushroom.

One interesting thing to note about cordyceps mushroom is that it typically grows on insects and larvae by taking over the brain and central nervous system, causing the host to act in accordance with the fungi’s biological agenda.

cordyceps mushroom

Luckily, the cordyceps mushrooms I use are not grown on insects but organic brown rice, making them vegan-friendly. Yay!

They have a very mushroom-y flavor, which I personally really enjoy in this soup. The hot broth softens them up as well, which makes eating them much more pleasant.

If you can’t find whole cordyceps mushrooms, you could substitute them with 1/4 tsp cordyceps mushroom extract powder.

One last thing to note about this recipe is that when making miso soup, it’s best not to heat the miso to extreme temperatures due to its high enzyme and probiotic content. I usually use water that’s just the perfect sipping temperature to make this recipe. It very easily remains raw by keeping temperatures under 118° F.

This recipe is super quick, and only takes as long as it takes your water to heat up.

Ingredients:

12 oz hot but not boiling filtered or spring water 
1 tsp (or a hefty pinch) dried cordyceps mushroom strands
1 tbsp chickpea miso paste 
1/4 tsp aged garlic extract
1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed
3/4 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
1 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 tsp kimchi juice or your favorite fermented hot sauce to taste
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Begin by adding miso paste, along with all ingredients – besides the seaweed, sesame seeds and cordyceps mushrooms – to your favorite mug or bowl.
  2. Add a splash of cold water and mix vigorously until a smooth paste is achieved.
  3. Add the mushrooms and seaweed to the broth base.
  4. Pour the hot water over the rest of the ingredients and stir gently to combine.
  5. Top with extra sesame oil and sesame seeds for garnish.

Enjoy! ❤


Aloe Vera, Nature’s Slimy Skin Serum

Ahh, aloe.

When I was little, I was obsessed with the slimy, antibacterial succulent. Any time I got any little scratch or cut, I would beg my mom to slice open a leaf of aloe vera so I could slather it all over the aforementioned injury.

I didn’t know much about aloe, or any of it’s magical healing properties, I just knew it was slimy, looked cool and left a cold, tingly feeling on my skin.

As I learned more about this amazing plant, my aloe admiration began to grow.

While I don’t particularly enjoy consuming aloe (it’s a textural thing, mostly) I absolutely love using it topically.

Back when I had a ton of Candida Albicans yeast overgrowth in my body, my face would frequently break out in horrible red rashes. Aloe vera helped to soothe and calm these breakouts, so I used it often.

Aloe vera has been used for centuries by ancient Chinese, Native American, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, and Egyptian civilizations. According to Lily of the Desert‘s website, Cleopatra used aloe vera on her skin regularly. I don’t know how to fact check this, but she’s said to have had glowing skin, so I completely believe it.

Aloe vera contains antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties, as well as antioxidant vitamins A and E.

A wonderful addition to any vegan or vegetarian diet, aloe contains amino acids, vitamin B-12 and even choline! Choline, which plays an important role in the metabolic process, as well as maintaining cell structure, is one of the more difficult nutrients to find on a vegan diet, and is usually ingested in things like eggs, meat and fish.

When it comes to healing properties, aloe is beneficial when taken internally as well as when used externally.

Aloe is a commonly used tool in the world of gut health, due to its gentle laxative effects and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to increase peristaltic activity in the intestines, resulting in improved bowel function. It’s also very lubricating, which soothes the gut and helps to maintain proper digestion. According to this study, aloe vera may also help to increase the good bacteria living in your gut.

Now onto the main reason I use aloe vera – its powerful skin healing properties!

When applied topically, aloe vera deeply moisturizes the skin, promotes collagen production, soothes inflammation, kills acne-causing bacteria and protects the skin from free radical damage; helping to slow down signs of aging.

Every time I apply aloe vera gel, I notice a difference in my skins overall appearance overnight.

It softens, plumps and moisturizes my skin while seriously diminishing redness. If I have any blemishes, they noticeably reduce in size as well.

I only use two types of aloe.

Bottled organic 100% aloe vera juice, and fresh, whole aloe vera leaves.

When it’s available at the health food store, I will usually opt for the fresh leaf because it has all it’s raw enzymes and nutrients intact. However, I still notice incredible benefits from using the juice as well.

If you’re using aloe juice, simply moisten a cotton pad with the juice and wipe it over your (freshly cleansed) face and neck. You can also pop a couple of aloe juice soaked cotton pads in the fridge and use them as soothing under-eye pads.

If you’re using the whole leaf, filet the leaf by slicing the green outer skin to reveal the magical goopy inner gel. I will usually just rub this into my skin, but you can also blend it to make a hydrating gel and use it that way.

It will form a protective, hydrating film over your skin. For this reason, I recommend using it in the evening before bed, so you can rinse off any remaining aloe when you wake up.

You can use the same aloe filet for another day or two – just scratch off the protective film it will form overnight. (Put any sliced pieces of aloe on a paper towel on a plate, as it can stain surfaces over time. I learned this the hard way!)

As far as consuming aloe vera, there are only two ways I’ve been able to get it down.

Method number one is to blend it into something. Overall, it has a very mild flavor, so it goes relatively unnoticed in smoothies and juices.

Method number two is chopping it up into teeny tiny pieces and dumping it into fresh coconut water. The aloe actually pairs nicely with the coconut water and makes for a refreshing beverage. I also kind of enjoy the little surprise bites of aloe with each sip.

While it’s definitely a little weird to eat, the benefits make it well worth the strange eating experience!

Overall, aloe vera is definitely on my list of the most magical plants of all time. It’s one of those things that I believe was gifted to us by nature, free to use, asking nothing in return but for us to show appreciation and love to ourselves.

If you want to read more about this fascinating plant on your own, I’ll link the source I used to write the science-y aspects of this blog post here.

If you are already a fan of aloe, let’s obsess over it together!

If you’re convinced and want to try it out, let me know if you have any questions or comments… I want to know what you think!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

How I Cope With “Ailment Anxiety”

This is a huge topic for me.

Ever since I was a wee seventh grader, I’ve had self-esteem and social anxiety issues.

Now, I know almost every human age twelve and older has – or still does – struggled with the topic of self-love at some point.

When I was younger, my anxieties and embarrassments generally stemmed from my outward appearance: acne, weight gain, facial features, hair color (teen angst has no boundaries), clothes, status etc.

Towards the end of my high school career, my self-esteem woes graduated to feeling uncertain about my personality, mental health, intelligence, and my ability to make connections with others.

I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way since those days. I now choose to put my energy towards working creatively, taking care of my mind and body and helping others… though some sour thoughts definitely still creep up on me now and then.

The vast majority of my negative self talk now stems from my physical and emotional ailments. As ironic as it is, a lot of my stress and anxiety actually comes from… well… stress and anxiety!

For example, something will arise in my surroundings that will trigger a wave of anxiety in my body. Not only am I anxious about this thing that’s happening, but I’m also anxious about the fact that I’m anxious!

“What’s this doing to my adrenals?”

“Why can’t I get rid of these feelings?”

“Is this what’s causing my stomach issues?”

“If I can’t stop feeling stressed I’ll NEVER heal….”

These are all thoughts I often experience when I’m feeling any sort of emotion one might describe as “negative” or “painful”.

Aside from emotional ailments, my physical dis-eases also stress me the heck out on a consistent basis. If I have a stomach ache, I’ll start worrying about what I might have done to cause this discomfort, how I can get rid of it and why I was cursed with gut issues.

And what do you know? We’re back at square one, and the cycle continues.

Pain leads to stress, which leads to more stress, which leads to more pain, which leads to even more stress!

I call these my “ailment anxieties”.

I know more people than I could ever imagine also go through similar processes.

While I’m still cradled in the depths of my self-healing and self-loving journey, I’ve found a few helpful tools to cope with the physical and emotional insecurities I go through.

Hopefully they’ll help you too!

Self care is key.

One thing that can seriously help when you’re feeling down about the state of your mind and/or body is to pamper yourself. If you’re at home, put on some of your favorite positive music, brew yourself a hot cup of decaf tea or ask a loved one to make one for you, put on a soothing face mask and inhale some essential oils.

If food is a comfort factor for you (it most certainly is for me), you could even make a healthy version of your favorite treat. This could be a mug of hot cocoa, a home-made muffin (or two), a quick bowl of blender banana nice cream or my personal super easy favorite, a chunk of raw vegan chocolate. I will always recommend staying low-to-no added sugar with any recipe, especially if you struggle with anxiety, and ideally grain or at least gluten-free!

Feelin’ clean is a dream!

Sometimes I just feel uncomfortable in my body. This could be at the end of a rough day, after an attack of some sort of dis-ease related pain, or just when I’m feeling down about myself for some reason or another.

One guaranteed way to feel at least a little bit better is to get squeaky clean! For me, there’s nothing quite as lovely as the feeling of putting on some clean, comfy clothes after a cleansing shower or bath. I’ve never once stepped out of a hot, steamy, essential oil enhanced shower and said to myself, “I feel way worse now”.

Watch something that makes you laugh.

This may seem counter-productive or like an escape of sorts, but it works extremely well for me – especially when I’m really going through it. For example, I suffer from dysmenorrhea, or debilitating menstrual cramps, as well as PMS symptoms created by the devil himself. Watching some of my favorite YouTube comedians and laughing for a while really helps me to lift the blues.

While I try not to make this a habit, it’s a wonderful tool and I’m so grateful for it. If YouTube isn’t your thing, maybe reading an uplifting book, re-watching a favorite childhood movie or diving back into your favorite Netflix series might hit the spot.

Write down 10 (or more) things you love about yourself.

This tool is great regardless of if you’re feeling not-so-hot… or not! Reminding yourself why you’re awesome can help reset your subconscious mind to having positive feelings around you and your body. It was difficult for me at first… but after I found three things I loved – or even just liked – about myself, they started flowing easier. Just grab a pen and paper and write away! I like to include at least a couple of notes about my physical body and how much I appreciate that it’s working so hard to keep me alive, even though I may not be feeling my best at that moment.

Practice some gentle yoga or meditation.

Even just fifteen to thirty minutes of gentle yoga or meditation can really help remove one from ones anxieties and worries.

My favorite way to soothe my mind quickly is to lay flat on my bed, a yoga mat or couch, close my eyes, and count from one to a hundred. As I do so, I visualize that with every twenty seconds I count, one part of my body is just becoming empty space. I start from my feet and work up to my shoulders, all the way to the top of my head.

This really helps me calm down and relaxes my entire body. I usually notice a lot of tension release in the form of twitches and tingles when I practice this meditation!

Absorb some magnesium.

If you aren’t already familiar with magnesium, it’s a magical mineral that can seriously promote a sense of tranquility and well-being. It helps to calm the nervous system, release tension in the muscles and ease anxiety.

My favorite ways to use magnesium is in the form of topical magnesium chloride spray, as well as magnesium chloride bath flakes. If you feel like you need a particularly large dose of calm, add 1/3 to 1/2 a container of magnesium chloride flakes into a bath, or in a bucket to soak your feet. There are also magnesium drink mixes and capsules, but I find topical application works much quicker.

So there you have it!

Those are a few of the things that I practice to help me cope with my “ailment anxiety”.

If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Bikrim Yoga: My Experience

I’m a huge fan of yoga, but I’ve never been able to maintain it as part of my life for longer than six months at a time.

I took my first Ashtanga yoga class in 10th grade, and I was hooked.

I went consistently after school – twice a week – for about, well, six months.

I loved the changes I felt in my mind and body after just a handful of classes.

But alas, I fell off my yoga routine as I felt I was becoming busier and more stressed, which is ironically why I started practicing yoga in the first place.

Senior year, I picked up an at-home yoga practice, following YouTube videos on my own.

Again, I dropped off after a few months.

Then, about a year and half later, my mom had some exciting news.

She’d purchased twelve classes for us to take at a Bikrim, or “Hot Yoga” studio.

While there is quite a lot of controversy over Bikrim Yoga, mainly because the guy who started it is a total creep, thousands of people preach about the benefits hot yoga can have on your mind and body.

I was pretty stoked to try it out, especially considering I’d been in a sedentary slump for a year or so and wanted desperately to get fit again.

So I strapped up my yoga mat, squeezed into my yoga pants and hauled it to the yoga studio.

My mom was beaming with excitement too. Neither of us had a single clue what to expect.

As soon as I entered the yoga room, my initial thought was: “wow, it’s hot in here”.

Generally, Bikrim studios heat their rooms to about 108° F – which for me, a Northern California native, is melting temperature.

I rolled out my mat and began some gentle warm-up poses.

Looking around the room, I was comforted in the fact that there were plenty of people who also looked a little out of place. If you’ve ever been to any group yoga classes as a beginner, you might know that there are also those couple of people who you can’t even begin to comprehend when – or if – you’ll ever get to their level.

Then the instructor walked in, fit as heck, (of course) and had us all stand up at the front edge of our mats.

We started with some standing breathing exercises.

I knew I was in for some trouble when I was getting winded from breathing exercises.

About halfway into our standing practice, I began feeling a little lightheaded.

I ran through a couple more poses, then had to take a Bālāsana, or Child’s Pose on my mat from dizziness.

By the end of the class, I was exhausted.

My mom and I looked at each other, our faces the shade of an over-ripe tomato, and shared a moment of “oh dear”.

About four classes in, I started getting the hang of this Bikrim Yoga situation.

I had memorized the flow, which was very helpful, and could run through the standing postures without needing to sit down.

By my seventh class, I was a pro.

I not only ran through the poses perfectly, but I was getting a deeper stretch each time.

While I was focused and felt solid during class, the heat was often distracting and so uncomfortable that I would have to come out of my pose before my body was ready, simply because I felt I couldn’t get enough air.

Even after I’d gotten the poses down, I never got fully used to the heat.

After class, I felt refreshed and tranquil in one sense, but I also felt physically and energetically drained and exhausted in a way that I couldn’t shake for the entire rest of the day.

Towards the end of my twelve classes, going to Bikrim Yoga class began to feel like a chore.

In the end, I didn’t renew my pass.

Neither did mom.

Here are my final thoughts on Bikrim Yoga.

I think it’s wonderful for those who want to take their yoga practice to another level. Some people say it actually helps open up their bodies and allow them to sink deeper into their poses, as well as their meditation.

I’ve also known several people who saw a major transformation in their physique from practicing Bikrim Yoga.

If a friend were to ask me if they should take hot yoga, I would say go for it!

But, I would also recommend taking a few regular yoga classes first, especially if they’ve never practiced any yoga before.

As far as my own preferences go, I will stick to room temperature yoga going forward. I feel that I get more out of it, and I can really focus on stretching and breathing rather than wondering if I should sit down or not for my safety.

Obviously, this could totally just be my own heat tolerance and maybe even the level of toxicity in my body. But I also want to preach that not every thing is for every body.

And my body is not one of those bodies that wants to do Bikrim Yoga.

In the near future, I would love to get back into a regular yoga routine – for now, I make sure to do at least fifteen minutes of yoga flow after every workout!

Have you ever tried Bikrim Yoga? Are you a fan? I want to know!

Drop a comment or message me on Instagram and let me know.

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Strawberry Rose Latte

strawberry rose latte

This recipe was born through my love of floral flavors.

I’ve noticed that people either love floral flavors, or hate them and think they taste like perfume.

When I was little, I used to get so excited when our local ice cream shop would come out with spring floral flavors.

I was that kid who took a bite out of a bar of soap because it smelled so good.

My favorite “inside a grandma’s handbag candy” were those little purple violet flavored hard candies.

Anyway, this is my homage to all my fellow floral lovers out there. We’re out here, and we’re thriving, thank you very much.

Aside from satisfying my craving for flowery things, this latte is also very soothing, comforting and a wonderful beauty tonic.

Rose petals contain vitamins E and A, which are both wonderful for the skin.

This is a wonderful before-bed latte as well, especially since rose petals are soothing and promote tranquility and restful sleep.

You can use either dried or fresh rose petals. I’ve only tried this with dried rose petals, which lend a very subtle rose flavor, but I’m sure fresh would be absolutely divine.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp dried organic rose petals (make sure there are no green leaves or other bits, twigs etc. Just pure petals)
6 oz filtered or spring water 
2 tbsp strawberry coconut butter (I used Phi Kind Strawberry Coconut Butter)
6 oz raw almond milk  
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean
1 tsp raw honey, maple syrup or 1/8 tsp monk fruit (optional)

Directions:

  1. Begin by making a rose petal tea “concentrate”. Bring 6 oz of water to a boil on the stove. Remove from heat and add in the rose petals.
  2. Let sit for 7 minutes, covered, then strain. You can let this sit for up to 15 minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea to be.
  3. Add the tea into a blender, along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until frothy.
  4. Pour into a small saucepan and heat to desired temperature, being sure to avoid any simmering or boiling action. Keep in mind that (in my experience) raw almond milk tends to separate when heated beyond around 120° F.
  5. Pour into your favorite mug, top with rose petals and sip away!

Enjoy ❤

Raw Vegan Baby Banana Pancakes

banana pancakes

This recipe is heavily inspired by the addictively amazing raw pancakes at Erewhon Market in Los Angeles. I wasn’t trying to replicate it per se, but I wouldn’t have made them had I not fallen in love with the ones at Erewhon.

This pancake recipe has a base of bananas, and I have not tried making it any other way, so it’s not keto. But, it is free of added sugars & totally paleo – the sweetness comes from the baby bananas.

You could use regular bananas in this recipe and it would taste pretty much the same, but “Baby Banana Pancakes” sounded so cute!

You could also add blueberries, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, chai spices or nuts to this recipe and make whatever kind of pancakes you want!

I just added a dash of cinnamon and vanilla, which play off the sweet banana flavor wonderfully.

If I have any warnings about this recipe, it would be to not eat six in one go like I did. When it comes to raw food, especially blended and dehydrated nuts, seeds and fruits, it can be easy to chow down on a whole lot without realizing how much food you’re actually consuming.

For example, one dehydrated baby banana is going to seem much smaller than a fresh baby banana, but it’s still the same amount of sugar and fiber.

You know what I mean?

Anyway, these pancakes are tender, soft, sweet and have just the right amount of bite to them. They’re also super easy to make; you just need a blender and the dehydrator does the rest of the work for you.

This is an “overnight” recipe, so definitely start these earlier in the evening so you can wake up to fresh, warm banana pancakes for breakfast!

If you’re in a hurry or just want these for dinner (no judgement here, I’m no stranger to the “breakfast for dinner” movement) you can also increase the temperature on your dehydrator to 115° F and dehydrate them for three hours, flip, then dehydrate for four more hours.

I just topped them with a little organic buttery coconut oil and raw honey, but if I had some grade-A maple syrup around I would’ve opted for that.

Fresh chia blueberry jam would be divine as well, or cashew cream and strawberries.

This makes anywhere from 7 – 14 servings, depending on how big you want your pancakes to be. Just keep in mind larger pancakes will take longer to dehydrate. I used 1/4 cup scoop per pancake, and ended up with 12 of these bad boys.

Let’s get into the recipe!

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh banana chunks, or about 2 bunches of baby bananas
1/2 cup almond flour 
1/2 cup golden flax meal
1 cup raw pecans
2 cups raw almond milk  
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt 
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender such as a Vitamix, with the bananas going in first.
  2. Blend on high speed, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blade. This may require a bit of arm work, but it should go by pretty quick. If your blender is having a hard time, add 1/4 cup of almond milk or water at a time until a super smooth, yet relatively thick batter is achieved.
  3. Scoop out into little pancakes on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115° F for three hours, then flip them over and dehydrate at 110° F for 8-10 hours. These are pretty forgiving, so don’t sweat it if you leave them in an hour or two longer than this – especially at such a low temperature.
  4. Pop a few on a plate and smother them in vegan butter, berry sauce, maple syrup or whatever else strikes your fancy.

Enjoy! ❤

Spirulina, the Miracle Food

If I had to choose two foods to survive off for the rest of my life, Spirulina would definitely be one of them.

The other would probably be whole coconuts, but that’s another post for another time.

Spirulina is absolute magic.

It’s a Nutrient Bomb

It contains all essential amino acids, making it the perfect source of protein.

In fact, Spirulina’s protein composition is approximately 50%-70% of its dry weight. I’ll link a full report of the nutritional makeup of Spirulina here.

It also contains the stress-relief mineral magnesium, blood-building iron, omega 3’s and essential B-vitamins, making it an amazing supplement for vegans.

While Spirulina has not been shown to contain any sufficient amount of vitamin B-12, Chlorella has more promising research and may contain higher amounts.

Evidence may suggest that Spirulina helps to protect the liver, and studies have shown that it could be used as an alternative treatment for individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It may also seriously promote brain health. It has been shown to reduce levels of amyloid-beta proteins, which may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. I’ll link University Health News’s article that provides more information on this here if you’re interested.

Another benefit of Spirulina is its ability to help detoxify your body from excess heavy metals such as lead and mercury. It can bind with these harmful toxins, and move them out of the system.

Spirulina is easy for the body to digest, break down and absorb nutrients from, and you are usually only recommended to take 6-8 tablets (though I usually take several more), making it a great quick “snack”.

I actually love taking a few tablets in the evening as a bedtime “snack” if I get munchy before bed. I don’t like eating too soon before going to sleep, because I want to give my body all the energy it needs to rest and repair – rather than work hard to digest food.

It’s not as satisfying as a snack or a meal, but it does take the edge off enough for me to fall into a peaceful sleep. In fact, Spirulina may help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Some people actually pop them like candy.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people.

Spirulina vs. Chlorella

You may be wondering what the difference between Spirulina and Chlorella is. To be honest, I used to think there was no difference, other than the name.

There are a few key differences between Spirulina and Chlorella.

First, Chlorella is higher in chlorophyll than Spirulina – which you can usually see in it’s dark green color. Spirulina often has more of a blue tint to it.

Another major difference is their cell walls. While Spirulina has a fragile cell wall, Chlorella has a thicker, indigestible cell wall that needs to be “broken” for the body to absorb its nutrients. When picking a Chlorella, look for “Broken Cell Wall” on the label to assure you’re getting the benefits.

I’ll write about Chlorella soon, but let’s get back to our friend Spirulina!

Making Spirulina Taste Yummy

While I love the benefits I receive from taking algae, I’m not a huge fan of the taste.

If you aren’t a fan either, I recommend finding some pressed Spirulina tablets.

If you can, stick to tablets rather than capsules. Capsules can often hinder your body’s absorption of nutrients, and swallowing the tablets really isn’t that gross.

But, if you want to get the powder into your diet, there are ways to make it taste amazing.

Of course, you can add it into smoothies and juice, but how much fun is that?

One of my favorite ways to consume Spirulina is in a “Mermaid Latte”.

It’s basically just a light matcha latte with about 1/4 teaspoon or more of “Blue Majik”, a trendy Spirulina Extract with a striking blue color. The more Blue Majik added, the brighter the color will be. Just keep in mind that it has a pretty intense flavor, and you will taste it if you add too much.

While this is a great option for anyone who likes weirdly colored food, mermaids or Instagram-worthy creations, it’s not the only option for getting in those Spirulina benefits.

Another great option is to add Spirulina powder into fresh coconut water, with a dash of vanilla stevia if desired.

In my years of consuming not-so-palatable supplements and superfoods, I’ve come to realize that coconut water is an excellent vehicle for strange powders and liquids.

Another great cover-up for strange tasting healthy things is dark chocolate.

Making a creamy, dreamy raw chocolate mousse or chia pudding can turn Spirulina into a delicious treat.

One great way to get a daily dose of Spirulina any time of day is to make energy balls. These are basically little balls made of nuts and dried fruit, plus flavorings like vanilla, lemon or chocolate.

These make a great snack for those with a sweet tooth, or anyone who tends to get snacky throughout the day. They’re a perfect pre or post-workout pick-me-up, and a great breakfast or dessert.

My final favorite way to eat Spirulina powder is to mix it into vinegar-y salad dressings. A super flavorful, garlic and herb-filled vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice can mask the flavor of Spirulina wonderfully.

My Favorite Spirulina Brands

The Spirulina I take is Nutrex’s Pure Hawaiian Spirulina tablets.

It’s certified free of pesticides, herbicides and pollutants. According to their website, it’s the only Spirulina cultivated in a Biosecure Zone, assuring its purity.

I do also love Blue Majik, mostly because it’s fun to include in recipes, but also because it still contains amazing nutrients.

When buying a Spirulina, try to find one that’s cultivated in clean water without pesticides, or is certified organic.

So there you have it!

To sum it up, Spirulina is a magical food containing a complete amino acid profile, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and more!

It’s a wonderful addition to any diet, but it particularly beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.

I hope this post helped you in some way, and maybe encouraged you to add Spirulina to your health regimen, if you haven’t already!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna