The Kosmic Kitchen Herbal Program

You can never stop learning. That is what I have realized. All herbalists, health coaches, nutritionists & chefs all have wisdom to share. Right when I got in touch with the Great Kosmic Kitchen, their book beamed with this energy I was searching for and I knew that I had to connect with them about their sacred herbal rituals about eating and living. 

What these girls gave me were the tools to take on some of my greatest health desires — to prepare food for the week, to start a garden, to religiously attend the farmers market and get my sugar cravings under control. They gave me so many quick and easy tips, that now come second nature to me, and I am eternally grateful for their program. 

I love how they gave a step by step and day by day guide for when to shop, cook & prep the meals. I really felt like they were there right beside me, even though they weren’t there physically. One of my favorite recipes was the frittata. I am obsessed with finding the freshest farmers market vegetables and getting creative each week. 

My carb snacks have since switched over to fresh raw farmers market veggies (mostly snap peas, my favorite)! I have become a huge fan of their Kitchari. I usually make a batch once a week, and have noticed that the variety of fresh herbs (that I love to order from Mountain Rose) have really helped my digestion. Licorice tea has been a key herbal component / recommendationmade to me for curbing my sugar cravings. Prepping food for the week gave me this sense of calm, knowing that wherever I went or when I gothome — that I would have something healthy to snack on. This has supported me to make better food choices. 

There is nothing like the experience of shopping, prepping & eating your own meals for an entire week straight. This was my time for me to focus on myself and make the changes I have always wanted to make, and by having someone to hold me accountable, I was able to make these habits last. I highly recommend this program for their accent wisdom that can be easily adapted to a modern lifestyle. 

If you're needing extra support bringing out your inner 'kitchen witch,' excited about infusing herbs into your life but aren't quite sure how, or busy and don't have time to even think about nourishing meals, let us know! We'd love to set up a custom herbal meal plan that's just right for you. 

L I T T L E Q U I N O A P A T T I E S

Ingredients 

garlic | herbs

2 ½ cups cooked quinoa, at room temp

4 eggs, beaten

½ tsp sea salt

⅓ cup scallions or chives, chopped

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

⅓ cup goat cheese (also fine to omit)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup bread crumbs or ground nutsalmonds,

walnuts, pecans. Plus more if needed.

water, if needed

1 Tbsp ghee, butter or coconut oil

Directions

Combine quinoa, eggs and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese and

garlic. Add the bread crumbs or nuts, stir and let sit for a few minutes so the bread

crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you

can easily form into 12, 1inch thick patties. Heat the fat in a cast iron skillet on medium

heat. Once melted and hot, begin to form the patties adding about 6 or less to the

skillet. Make sure they have enough room to be flipped easily. Cover and cook for 7

minutes or until nice and brown on the bottom. Flip and continue to cook until patties

are browned. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack or plate while you cook

the remaining patties. 

Note: Ground almonds or walnuts work well in place of breadcrumbs if you want a gluten free

option. * Adapted from Near & Far by Heidi Swanson

Summer Essential - Bottega Organica Sea Salt & Peppermint Body Scrub

Some products instantly become an staple in my life. Bottega Organica’s Sea Salt & Peppermint Scrub is one of them. It is so important for us (especially those who live in cities) to detoxify our body, scrub off all of the dirt and leave all those dead skin cells behind. However, many ‘healthy” scrubs and soaps contain ingredients that are chemical-ladden and could end up causing more harm long term than good. This is why I love Bottega, their ingredients are some of the most pure, organic & potent I have ever seen. Read those labels, you may be surprised what you find! You know what they say, “if you couldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your body”.

My favorite thing to do with this scrub is to rub it all over my body and use a neutral dead sea sponge. Any natural sponge will do, but really go at it. As I am rubbing and scrubbing, I use positive affirmations and mantras to infuse good thoughts and vibrations into my body. I say things like, “I love my body, it is beautiful and is always letting go of all that does not serve its highest good.” I used to be insecure about my legs and especially the back of them, but using these affirmations really has changed my relationship to them. I notice that by using this high quality scrub, drinking lots of spring water, eating fresh whole foods, maintaining consistent exercise and rubbing high quality oils into them, has altered their shape and tone tremendously.

The scrub leaves my body with a shimmery glow and a fresh scent of peppermint that lasts for hours. I do not use traditional fragrances anymore, mostly organic essential oils, so using this product takes that step out of the equation. Also, if I rub this on my skin prior to shaving, once I rinse it off, my skin is oiled up enough that I can do a nice clean shave. I love it! Efficient, clean & pure. It’s also gentle enough to use for sunburns & after sunbathing. It leaves the skin feeling soothed and calm — definitely a product to try for itchy, dry and irritate skin. This one is a Summer Essential to keep you cool, your skin feeling its best and most refreshed all season long.

About  ~ Source: BottegaOrganica.com

Mediterranean sea salt exfoliates and cleanses the skin. Organic shea butter combined with medicinal plants infused in extra-virgin olive oil provides immediate nourishment. Organic peppermint stimulates circulation while carrot and apricot provide natural vitamins and antioxidants. Prawn sage prolongs the radiance and vitality of healthy skin cells.

Ingredients 

Sea salt, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil bo, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter *, mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf extract *, cera alba (beeswax) *, peppermint (mentha piperita) oil *, salvia haenkei (prawn sage) extract bo, salvia officinalis (sage) extract *, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract *, prunus armeniaca (apricot) fruit extract *, limonene eo, linalool eo

* certified organic herbs flowers and fruits

bo harvested by Bottega Organica

eo natural component of essential oil

Help Your Self

Images by Mariel Kon

Is it possible to have a crush on a store? Help Your Self, a wellness boutique located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is quite possibly my biggest crush yet. Set all in white, I walked in and felt immediately cleansed & calm. During my recent trip to New York, I had the opportunity to meet owner and founder, Catherine Foley. She is sweet, loving & so caring. So much that she even talks to the herbs in her store and thanks them for working with her.

Catherine has built a safe haven for stereotypical stressed out New Yorkers, who may just need to ingest some plant magic and chill the fuck out. Help Your Self is a one-stop shop for all of your body, mind & soul needs. From tinctures to tonics to herbal first aid to classes to privates, you can expect to come here and walk out feeling new and improved.

I am so honored to have Catherine on the blog today, and share this dream store with you.

Q&A with Catherine Foley, Founder of Help Your Self

Q: What is Help Your Self and why did you open shop?

A: Help Your Self is a holistic wellness store and healing space. We support small batch healing artisans in the United States - herbalists, farmers, distillers, aromatherapists, practitioners and artists. Everything in the store is 100% organic and botanical - we believe reconnection and right relationship with nature is fundamental in personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet as a whole. Integrating plant medicine into our daily lives is a simple and profound step in that direction; whether it’s using herbal-infused body oil, tree incense, an essential oil candle or a tincture. We live in a symbiotic relationship with the plant kingdom - we breathe for them and they breathe for us. It is the most significant relationship in our lives! Unfortunately, in modern times, we nourish this relationship less and less. At the core of our mission is to get you back into the practice of wellness. It does not typically require huge, broad changes, although those can be good, too. Whatever you can do each day is meaningful, even if it's just stopping for a moment and touching the bark on a tree, or taking in the deep blue sky. When you open your heart to the world in this way, we are all healed.

I opened Help Your Self because I received a vision during an acupuncture session in 2014 that I would open a "general store for the spirit" called Help Your Self. I was in a very different place at that time, managing the rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. I actually love business operations, and was exploring the possibility of founding my own company, but I just didn't know what it would be. It's a deeply beautiful process to manifest your dreams.

Q: Why did you choose to open in Brooklyn?

A: I've lived in Greenpoint since 2010 and always worked in Williamsburg. This is truly my home now. In fact, I've never lived anywhere longer in my adult life. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and community was a very important thing to my dad. He was always involved with the local organizations and activities. I was actually a state-certified volunteer firefighter in my hometown! My dad imparted the value of community to me, and by opening my business here, I can continue to be a part of the fabric of life in northern Brooklyn. Living and working in the same neighborhood in New York is pretty amazing.

Q: What does is it mean to you to be connected to your intuition?

A: My dad died tragically when I was 12. After that, I started to experience precognitive dreaming. This was my first conscious understanding of my intuition and I've been in relationship with it ever since. In fact, most of the time, I don't realize I'm using my intuition because it's so deeply woven into who I am and how I experience my environment. We are all born with intuition, it's just a matter of staying open and listening. I think New Yorkers are very intuitive people - we live in such a stimulating environment and our senses are constantly engaged. We're particularly good at perceiving B.S.!

Q: Walk us through a day in your life.

A: I like to sleep 8 to 10 hours a night, so I typically wake up between 8:30 and 9 am. The habits I formed as a teenager - namely, staying up late and sleeping in, have stayed with me. I like the feeling of being awake in the middle of the night when the world is quiet. It's my most creative time. And I have just never felt right waking up before 8 am. My family will tell you it's not a pretty time for me. After I wake up, I am slow to get out of bed. There is nothing more jarring for me than jumping out of the bed and running out of the house. I like to sit in the feelings of my dreams, check in with my body, my self, and process for a bit. Then I open my curtains and windows, light incense, light candles on my altar, put essential oils in the diffuser and smudge myself and my apartment with palo santo or cedar, calling in love and joy and all those good things.

I will make a protein-rich breakfast (think chicken liver and sauerkraut!), and after that, I sit in my meditation space and practice "light breathing," which I learned from my Shamanic Reiki teacher Llyn Roberts. It's a great way to release stagnant energies and draw cleansing, healing light into your body. Nine times out of 10, a cardinal will show up in the back yard when I am meditating. I'm not sure why, but this bird and I have a thing. There's also a huge maple tree out there, and I am very connected to that tree. After showering and going through my chemical-free beauty routine (thanks to the influence of my sister-in-law Tara Foley who founded Follain), I take all my vitamins and herbal supplements, and head to the shop. Stepping through the door and starting my day at Help Your Self is my high point. It makes me so happy to be here - I sing songs to all the herbs on the shelves and let them know how grateful I am to work with them.

Being a business owner and managing your time efficiently is an art that I am still getting the hang of. It is easy to feel pulled in many different directions, so I have to be diligent about protecting my energy, going slow and staying grounded. Getting just one or two things done on my eternal to-do list is a victory and I really try to celebrate the small, sometimes menial, triumphs. The real highlight of what I do every day is engaging with our customers and clients. Coming from a hospitality background, making real and meaningful connections with those who support Help Your Self is my absolute priority over everything else. This is a no-pretention zone where laughter and fun is encouraged. Life can be intense and painful. We are tested and challenged every day to be the person we want to be. New York is a very spiritual place in that sense. When you are called to get back in the driver's seat of your own life and wellbeing - to help yourself - sometimes it can get harder before it gets easier. Help Your Self is a refuge in that way, and your personal support system. After I close up shop for the evening, I typically head home, make dinner and unwind, or try to get out and see my friends and family. Just before I fall asleep, I do Reiki on myself and ask my dreams to help me understand a certain issue or experience. I also like to send out gratitude and light to the people in my life.

Q: What are some of your non-negotiable wellness practices or alternative treatments that you must do throughout the month?

A: The most significant practices for me are mindfulness and setting clear intentions. I am always checking in with myself and observing the feelings running through me. When I am feeling constricted, fearful or mad, I practice loving self-compassion, self-soothing and breathing love and acceptance into those feelings. Wellness is not about attaining perfection. It's about being comfortable with your imperfections and healing shame.

Emotional intelligence is something we have to fumble with and learn on our own - we are essentially socialized to not feel our feelings, which really is the root of much of our pain. Emotions are overwhelming, so we find shortcuts that feel okay in the moment, but wreak havoc over the long run. I spend a lot of time unlearning behaviors and retraining my brain. I also try to take ownership of my bad behavior. I grew up in a fiery, "blow and go" family, experienced traumas, and as an Aries, am inherently fiery. This is a powerful trifecta that has led to a lot of destruction in my life. As I get to know myself more, I am really working to transform these energies in a positive way. It can feel like surgery at times. But the intentions you set are like the overarching tone of your life - all the energy will follow those intentions. Being very clear about your intentions is important. The universe does listen, for better or for worse.

Q: Are New Yorkers hip to alternative health and wellness?

A: Wellness is definitely in the zeitgeist here. In a recent episode of the Real Housewives of New York City, Sonja Morgan talked about smudging her apartment with sage, Vogue is writing about flower essences and crystals, and Reiki Masters are employed in our hospitals. That being said, New Yorkers are traditionalists. We approach change and newness with some skepticism, especially if it's trendy or faddish. I appreciate this because there's a lot out there in the wellness world, and it's important to be discriminating. New Yorkers have an innate sense for authenticity, so I think whatever has staying power, you can trust to be the real deal.

Q: What books are you reading right now?

A: I am reading Soul Retrieval by Sandra Ingerman. I am doing a week long soul retrieval training with her in Joshua Tree in October. I'm excited to bring this practice back to Greenpoint!

Q: What is your grand vision for HYS?

A: We are just about to launch the booking component of our website, which means you will be able to sign up for healing services and workshops online. I have an amazing group of practitioners ready to offer their services here, and teachers eager to share their wisdom. We also want to start offering private group ceremonies and rituals for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Later this year, we will launch e-commerce, and next year, I will be developing a Help Your Self product line. In the long run, I would love to open another location or two, and have also contemplated the idea of a retreat space in the Catskills.

Q: What ingredients make for a super life?

A: Irreverence, mystery and connection.

Featured as a Woman in Wellness on Vidya Living

"In this world, where life is fast and furious and sometimes tough, there’s nothing more important than intimate and authentic connections with a loving community of sisters. This monthly Q&A series is all about sharing some of my favorite women in wellness and how they shape, shift and uplift others to live life more fully. This month’s feature is the lovely Alexa Gray of Super Food Super Life. Alexa is a connector in the wellness world, she brings amazing businesses together and co-creates incredible interviews, events and programs. A trained fine art photographer based in L.A., she loves behind the scenes interviews with natural product pioneers, which inspire her readers with informative stories from the front lines of the healthy lifestyle movement. This beauty also joins us in Malibu at the IWR Retreat each year to photograph the magic that happens at our oceanside retreat. Thrilled to welcome Alexa…!"

Top 10 Picks from Expo West on The Chalkboard Magazine

"IT ONLY COMES once a year, and when it does it seems all of LA’s wellness-minded community members flock to one place: Expo West, the mother of all natural product conventions. Last week, health coach and wellness educator, Alexa Gray of SuperFood, SuperLife, hit the show to navigate the endless array of natural products. She reported back with these ten interesting finds…"

click below to read my whole story

Under Luna || Holistic Shampoo & Conditioner

UNDER LUNA || The full moon is under way. Can you feel it? The energy feels peaceful yet profound. What has manifested for you this past lunar cycle? What do you need to let go of?  Could one of your releases be toxic beauty products? If so, I am highly recommending all my friends try this incredible, holistic and all-natural hair care line, Under Luna (for adults and kids). I have used both the shampoo and conditioner twice already on my hair and it works wonders. It’s hydrating, smells lovely & is made with organic botanicals. Most natural shampoos and conditioners are either too expensive or can be very drying, Under Luna is neither. 

Q+A with Carly, Founder of Under Luna

Q: What is Under Luna and what inspired you to start it?

A: Under Luna is a holistic beauty line. Right now we are focusing on hair products, but the idea is to expand it into skin and body care. We've got things in the works! For years, as curiosity got the best of me, I started playing around with ingredients after I started learning what was going into so-called natural products I was buying. I'd end up taking way too long of showers because I was picking up every bottle in the shower, trying to pronounce each ingredients, trying to figure out how & where each were derived and what benefit that is to my skin and hair. Ultimately everything will be absorbed into your bloodstream so when I realized what was in these products I had a mini freak out and decided to start from scratch and create my own.

Q: Why did you choose the ingredients that you did?

A: My personal mission was to create products that only include ingredients sourced from the earth. I researched the ways in which our ancestors used to apply herbs, wash their hair, cleanse their face, treat blemishes, wounds. A quick look into the lives of Native Americans, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and you'll find they have amazing treatments for just about anything and what were they using centuries ago? The fruits, plants, trees and vegetables growing around them. Shampoo is a really tricky product to make if you're going the natural route, but yet you want the feeling and texture of a commercial product. Think about all the natural shampoos - they're drying and/or they leave your hair super greasy. I did some major homework and played around with various ingredients knowing what benefits I wanted to bring to this product and after a lot of time and a lot of testing on friends and family - our Warrior Shampoo was born.

Q: Did you make other products before this one?

A: Ohh ya. You should see how many jars I've got all over the bathroom. I've got a body lotion, shaving cream, face toner, cleaner, face and body scrub, blemish stick, deodorant, cleaning products....I think you've got the idea.

Q: Can this product be applied to any type of hair (colored, bleached, relaxed)?

A: Absolutely, the way the shampoo works is it gently cleanses the hair of the dirt or product that's in your hair. It doesn't strip the oils like most commercial shampoos do. It will add the missing nutrients back into the scalp and hair follicle and being PH-balanced, it will seal the follicle back up keeping each hair strand protected and moisturized. So whether you have colored, bleach or relaxed hair or really frizzy hair - you're in good hands!

Q: What are some of your other favorite beauty or hair products to use? 

A: I'm a simple girl. I don't use a lot of products in general. I like to live by the rule less is more especially when it comes to your body. We have great natural oils in our hair and skin that will naturally balance themselves out if you allow them. For my hair, a simple jojoba oil on the ends are great to shield my hair from the environment and the oil gives my hair a little added volume and texture. For my face, I have super sensitive skin, always have, but I've found what works for me. I don't wash my face in the morning just splash it with some warm water then apply Angelina Organic Skin Care Coconut Hazelnut Sunshade Lotion - it's an amazing sunscreen that doubles up as a moisturizer. I won't leave the house without it on. I use a great charcoal bar by Apoterra Skincare to cleanse my face at night and finally a spritz of a toner I put together that is an accumulation of various native organic herbs that is moisturizing and ultra healing. Stay tuned for more info on that concoction.

Q: I know you have begun to study herbalism, what program are you in and how do herbs play a role in your life and your daily routine?

A: I completed a program with Herbal Academy of New England which I absolutely loved, but that's only scratching the surface of herbalism. There is soo much to learn so I'm doing as much reading and studying as I possibly can. Working with herbs whether it's mixing product, making tea or cooking - I'm always surrounded by lessons of herbalism. As for my daily routine, herbs are there to wake me up in the morning with a cup of fresh brewed tea and depending how I feel whether I'm feeling under the weather, maybe a little anxious or I'm in need of a good nights rest - I've got a cupboard full of remedies. 

Q: What is your grand vision for Under Luna?

A: To keep expanding the product line and in doing so educate consumers on ingredients. I'm not just talking about our ingredients and what the ingredients Under Luna products can do for you, but other uses and benefits of say white willow bark and how you should reach for that if you have a headache instead of an advil. Herbs really are amazing and I hope by using Under Luna products, people will start to understand what transformative powers herbs really do have.

Q: What makes for a Super Life?

A: Waking up every day with a healthy body, clear mind and doing what you love with the people you love.

The Egg Rethought with Dr. Beth Ricanati

 

            I am getting asked much more frequently if it’s ok to eat eggs, and if so, what kind of eggs? Yes! It’s ok to eat eggs, and when possible, pasture-raised organic is the way to go.  I eat eggs every single week.

            Big eggs, small eggs, brown eggs, white eggs, cage-free eggs, organic eggs?  I haven’t always given them much thought.  I just grabbed whatever eggs were at hand.  Then we moved across the country to southern California. I quickly discovered that not all eggs are created equal.  Once I got over my childhood memory to not eat too many eggs (too much cholesterol, or so I was told then, by non-doctor well-meaning family members), I had to get serious about what eggs to purchase.  I love eggs; I love them scrambled, in omelets, hard-boiled and soft-boiled (oh I could rhapsodize about the egg cups alone for a while).  Given a choice, I want brown eggs.  They seem more real to me, more authentic.  I want cage-free, organic brown eggs.

            I started to go to the farmer’s market weekly in my new home state, a state that I have come to learn provides much of our nations’ food. I hadn’t often thought about where our food actually came from.  I had been lulled into believing that lettuce came in a pre-sealed bag on a cooled shelf at the grocery store, that carrots naturally grew in to those tiny little bite-size pieces, that cucumbers had no taste, just a crunch-y sensation. It’s one thing to purchase these foods in a grocery store.  It’s quite another to be able to purchase them at a farmer’s market, fresh, in season.  Local.  Sometimes organic.  Maybe even from the farmer herself.  And these farmers-market eggs certainly taste different to me.  They alter the foods they are added to. 

            Buying these eggs directly, face-to-face, makes me feel like part of a community.  And in a new community, far away from my ‘roots’, I appreciate this.  I have always liked feeling part of a community.  I liked living in an apartment building in New York City; I liked seeing the different doormen everyday, or catching a glimpse of the beautiful family down the hall with children and dogs and the detritus of life spilling out their front door.  I liked dashing through the hospital corridors, recognizing so many people that I knew: the respiratory therapists and anesthesiologists and patient transporters and senior attending physicians and everyone in between.                   

            I like it when this egg farmer says, “See you next week.”  And she and I both know that she will.  I can’t always make it to the farmer’s market though; sometimes I have to settle for eggs from the grocery store.  Luckily, we have an abundance of organic, cage-free, sustainably raised-chicken eggs available to us.  My current fave even comes with a note tucked inside the carton.  Seriously.        

            Now that I know the health benefits of eggs, I want them all the time: nutrients like choline and protein and vitamin B12.  In fact, eggs contain every single B vitamin and a full complement of protein building blocks.  I care because this full-on protein helps me build muscle, and I plan on dancing at my children’s weddings so I need this muscle! And they are a low calorie food, with no carbs or sugars. All in all, almost a perfect food.

A complex relationship exists between cholesterol and eggs, but research is changing this: heart disease risk has now been shown to be related more to saturated and trans fats than to cholesterol.  We know that eggs fit into heart-healthy diet depending on health, age, individual genetics. So what to do: follow my favorite dictum – everything in moderation.  It’s not the egg; it’s often the other foods that we eat with it.  Take note, the Japanese eat the most eggs world wide and have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease because their overall diet low in saturated fat.  You can lower your saturated and trans fat by reducing your meat and dairy consumption and avoiding – or at least limiting – fried foods and heavy sauces.