New Year Resolution: New Foods and Beverages

Happy New Year! Have you decided on your New Year resolution yet?

Mine is to continue experimenting with the plant foods and new ways of growing, preparing, and eating them.

A few days ago, I tried acorn squash for the first time, and it amazed me by its deliciousness.

I cut it across in half, removed the seeds, and steamed both halves at low temperature. It was soft, slightly sweet, and filling. You can find the recipe here.

I washed, dried, and saved the seeds to plant them in spring.

Nutritionally, acorn squash is high in fiber (9 grams per 1 cup!), and many vitamins such as vitamin C, B1, B5, B6, pro-vitamin A (carotenes), and folate.

As for the minerals, it is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and manganese, and has traces of zinc, selenium, and copper.

Acorn squash is low in fat, calories, and glycemic index, and a good source of omega-3 fats (76 mg per 1 cup). One cup of cooked acorn squash contains 2.3 g of protein, 0.3 g of fat, 30 g of carbohydrates, and 115 calories.

Stay tuned for more ideas on plant-based foods and beverages!

We wish you a happy, healthy, and fulfilling new year!



National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. (2016). United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from

SELF Nutrition Data. (2014). Squash, winter, acorn, cooked, baked, without salt. Retrieved from


Homemade edible Christmas gift

I made chocolate covered walnuts this year as a homemade Christmas gift for the family and friends. It is very easy, takes about 20 minutes, and can be made a few weeks ahead of the occasion.

First, you need to get all the ingredients: walnuts, a dark chocolate bar, spices, coconut oil, coconut flakes. You can read the recipe here for a complete list of ingredients.

Second, you need to get all the supplies: the glass jars (1/4 -1 cup), ribbons, the gift bags and tissue paper.

Third, set a time to get it done. Viola!

This gift is beautiful, delicious, and unique. The recipe will make 2 cups of chocolate walnuts. If you plan to use 1/2-cup jars, then you will make 4 gifts. If you use 1/4-cup jars, you will get 8 gifts. Enjoy and let us know how it worked out for you!

We wish a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!






A recent study: Vegan diet and heart disease

Green Salad.

These are the highlights of the recent randomized clinical trial done in NYU Langone Health, presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) and reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The purpose of this eight-week study was to evaluate the effect of the vegan diet versus AHA diet on the inflammatory markers in patients with coronary artery disease.

One hundred participants received a two-month supply of food and assessments by dietitians and doctors. The inflammatory marker highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and serum lipid profiles were measured.

Researchers concluded that vegan diet reduced systemic inflammation and improved serum lipids better than AHA diet. The scientists recommended a follow-up with a larger trial.

An update with more details will be posted once this study becomes available in the PubMed or other scientific databases. Stay tuned!




Clinical Trials. (2017). Vegan versus AHA diet effect on inflammation and glucometabolic profile in patients with CAD (coronary artery disease). Retrieved from

Lagnado, L. (December 5, 2017). Is being vegan good for your heart? The Wall Street Journal. Health. Retrieved from

New York University. (2017).Langone Health. Education and research.

New York University. (2017). Steinhardt. Department of Nutrition and Health Studies.



Vegetable Broth

Today I’m excited to share with you how easy it is to make your own vegetable broth.

For this purpose, you can use kitchen scraps or whole vegetables.

Organic vegetables and herbs are the best as they have less of the pesticides and other non-edible chemicals.

A vegetable broth is a staple in our household. It is delicious and full of nutrients. It is a pleasure to share it from our table to yours. Enjoy!

You can find my basic recipe and method of preparation here: Vegetable Broth Recipe

You can also check out this 2-minute video on how to make this broth.

Do you have questions or experiences to share? Let us know!



Bauman, E., & Marx, L. (2012). Flavors of health. Bauman College: Penngrove, CA (the recipe was modified)

Tasty. (2016). How to make veggie stock from kitchen scraps (video). Retrieved from








Pets and Food

Video: Cats Eating Their Breakfast

In this video, my cats are enjoying an avocado and flax crackers.

Studying and practicing holistic living for the past three decades, I have learned quite a bit about human health and balanced lifestyle.

How about our furry babies? I had cats as pets since my childhood. As a pet owner, I always wanted to find out how to create a good nutrition and lifestyle routine for them.

I owe many thanks to the amazing team of the holistic veterinarians at the  Healthy Pets Veterinary Hospital in San Francisco. I learned that some of the human foods could be necessary and safe for cats. The food choices depend on the results of the evaluation of the pet’s health status, so first of all, take your pet to the vet and discuss the available dietary options.

Thanks for watching a video and reading this post!

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

Happy Holidays to you and your pets 🙂



Healthy Pets Veterinary Hospital. (2017). Retrieved from

Dessert For the Holidays

Today I’d like to talk about desserts. What is your favorite one for the upcoming holiday season?

My all-time favorite is a cheesecake. Feeling inspired by many raw vegan foodies, I have experimented with many versions of it.

This is my most recent version: Carrot Cheesecake. I got my inspiration from amazingly delicious desserts made at this cafe.

I used dates, almonds, and coconut for the crust.

The filling had carrots, dates, lemon, coconut, and cashews. For the frosting, cashews and coconut worked wonders.

It turned out very delicious!

I’ll post the recipe with the method of preparation soon. Stay tuned 🙂

Happy Holidays!




A Pre-Holiday Tuneup

The Thanksgiving and New Year holidays are upon us! Have you started feeling the rush and the excitement of the season? It is a time to start wrapping up the current year,  setting new goals, and reconnecting with family members and friends.

Additionally, some of us celebrate the spiritual meaning of the season – learning from the past experiences and welcoming the new opportunities.

It can be a stressful time. Many people can gain weight during this holiday season.1 If it ever happened to you, you are not alone! The reasons for the holiday weight gain are extra stresses from having to do too much, not getting enough sleep and rest, engaging in social eating and celebrating, etc. In my family, there are four Holy Season birthdays!

Let’s review some key points that can help us stay on the toes, remain energetic and productive, and prevent unwanted weight gain. The less you gain, the less you’ll have to try to lose in the new year!

  1. Reevaluate your food and nutrition choices. 
    • ~ Eat more of the foods that are light and nutritious.
      • Think vegetables of all types and colors! They contain many nutrients that help the body offset the stress and keep the metabolism active. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommendation is 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.2 If that sounds too much, do what you can as it still counts.
    • ~ Hydrate yourself.
      • Adequate intake of liquids is a must for your body to stay energized and cleansed from the inside out. Plain or mineral water, green tea, and herbal tea are excellent choices! How much of the liquids to drink per day? The average recommendation is 2 quarts (about 2 liters) per day; according to the study, up to 2.5 liters for women and 3.3 liters for men per day, depending on the activity level, age, and health status.3
    • ~ Talk to a holistic nutrition professional.
      • Get individualized tips on the holiday weight gain prevention. Gain less, and you’ll have to lose less!
      • RSVP for a free initial discussion and mention 10% off regular price during the holiday season!
  2. Adjust your exercise routine.
    • ~ If you feel that there is no time or no energy to exercise, you are not alone.
      • Applying a creative attitude toward physical activities and movement options can save us from feeling guilty and offer more choices.
      • The bottom line is to keep moving throughout the day: walk, take stairs, and schedule regular stretching breaks.4
    • ~ Yoga practice counts as a physical activity.
      • Some styles are vigorous, while others are more gentle.
      • During a busy and stressful season, your body may prefer an activity that is less intense and taxing. In this case, Yoga might be an appropriate option to try.
    • ~ Restorative yoga and Pranayama (yogic breathing).
      • These practices help to minimize the mental and emotional effects of stress and relax the overused parts of the body.
      • We offer one-on-one Yoga classes, customized for your body type and body issues. RSVP for a free initial discussion and mention 10% off regular price.

We wish you a safe, healthy, and blessed holiday season!




Clark, J. E. (2015). Diet, exercise, or diet with exercise: comparing the effectiveness of treatment options for weight loss and changes in fitness for adults 18-65 years old who are overfat or obese: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders. 2015; 14: 31. doi:  10.1186/s40200-015-0154-1

Helander, E., Wansink, B., & Chieh, A. (2016). Weight gain over the holidays in three countries. New England Journal of Medicine2016; 375:1200-1202, September 22, 2016, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1602012

Popkin, B., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Review. 2010, Aug; 68(8): 439-458. doi:  10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

Stewart, H. (2016). Fruit and vegetable recommendations can be met for $2.10 to $2.60 per day. USDA. Economic Research Center. Retrieved from




Yoga Practice: How To Make It Pleasant

Yoga Practice: How To Make It Pleasant

Yoga practice can be a life-transforming experience. It can recharge your body, mind, heart and soul with new refreshing energies and gently bring all aspects of your being into a state of balance. The practice can include doing poses (asanas), pranayama (deep breathing), meditation and deep restorative rest.

There is one requirement for these amazing benefits to happen: the practice has to be regular. The word “regular” could mean different ideas to different people, and I encourage you to ponder and define it for yourself. At least, if you come back to the mat somewhat consistently, then you can start feeling and noticing positive changes.

No doubt, Yoga is becoming more popular. More studios and styles are popping up. Many of us have tried at least one community Yoga class or tried practicing at home. I attended several Yoga teacher trainings and have been teaching Yoga for the community and private clients for eight years. Following my inner calling, I established my own home Yoga practice more than two decades ago and would like to share some insights with you.

So, what makes a Yoga class a great experience? What helps you as a Yoga practitioner, whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned student, experience a feeling of lightness, recharge, emotional freedom, mental clarity and happiness during and after a Yoga class? Let me attempt to sum up the key points here for you:

1.  Know Thyself.
Throughout your Yoga practice, stay aware of your body’s capabilities and limitations. Accept what you can do in a moment and let go of any comparisons and expectations. Try not to force yourself into the “perfect Yoga image” in your mind. The body may feel very different on different days. Be grateful to your body and its abilities.

2.  Breathe.
Stay focused on your breath and invite your breath deep into your belly and the tiniest parts of your lungs. Breathe as slowly and as fully as you comfortably can. Notice the rhythm, temperature, pattern, length, and smoothness of your breath and allow it to become more relaxed. Practicing on an empty stomach or two to three hours after your last intake of foods and beverages helps relax the chest and abdominal muscles that orchestrate the breathing process.

3.  Soften.
Yoga practice is a time for inner reflection and inquiry. By consciously softening and relaxing your mind and heart, you can tune into your inner being more fully. Mental activities such as thinking, planning, and solving problems or reviewing emotionally upsetting situations are best to deal with outside of the Yoga class, so ask your mind to wait patiently until after the end of your practice.

3.  Listen to your body.
Listen to the feelings, sensations, sounds, urges, inner dialogs and other cues coming from your body. At one moment, you can notice some tightness in your back. Later, it could be a sense of release in your shoulders or neck or a feeling that you need to come out the pose sooner. Observe your body going through the experience of Yoga practice, stay gentle with yourself and respect your inner messages.

The last but not least: before you begin attending Yoga classes in the community or practicing at home, visit your health provider, review your medical history together and decide which type of Yoga practice might be your best fit. Keep your health team updated on any changes in your well-being.

As a general rule, gentle and restorative Yoga practices can be suitable for many different bodies. When you approach your Yoga practice with awareness, your own body will “speak to you” and teach you which poses, techniques and styles work the best for you at any given moment.

I wish you safe and pleasant Yoga experiences! Namaste.

In Health,




Iyengar, B.K.S. (1976). Light on Yoga. Schoken Books: New York

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. (2008). Yoga: Mind and Body. DK: New York


A Heat Wave on a Labor Day Weekend in San Francisco Bay Area

A Heat Wave on a Labor Day Weekend in San Francisco Bay Area

Finally, the long-awaited Labor Day weekend is here! This year, a heat wave hit the entire Bay Area. Here is an image of a beautiful sunrise I took during my today’s morning jog around eight o’clock in the morning. The temperature was already around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips for the humans:

  • – On a scorching day when the temperature is in the triple digits, it is essential to wear light and breathable clothes, stay in a cool shade as much as possible and hydrate yourself often by drinking more water. Sweating helps to evaporate the internal heat and prevent the build-up of excessive heat.
  • – Interesting that in some Asian countries there is a custom to drink lots of hot tea when the weather is at its hottest.  It might not make much sense, right? In fact, drinking hot tea helps to sweat more profusely and promote rapid internal cooling. When my family and I lived in the southern latitudes, the typical summer temperature was often above 100 degrees and we served hot tea 4-6 times a day. And yes, each of us was sweating a lot!
  • – What kind of tea might be the best? It could be 1-2 cups of your favorite green or black tea, and a few more cups of herbal teas served with lemon slices. If drinking hot tea on a sweltering day does not resonate with you, a cold or iced tea is always another option. The key is to keep your body moist from inside out. My favorite teas are Organic Jasmine Green Tea and  Organic Peppermint Tea.

Tips for the pets:

  • – What about our furry friends? A pet that you own is part of your family. Do you know that animals are not able to sweat and because of that they get overheated very quickly?Overheating can do severe damage to their internal organs and tissues. Cars and other vehicles do not provide a favorable environment for the pets unless an air conditioner is running and keeping the space refreshing.
  • – Keeping the animals in a cool shade and offering them fresh water during the day is essential. Wet food or rehydrated dry food can provide additional hydration.  One of the foods that my cats love is rehydrated Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets. They also enjoy Chlorella Tablets as a healthy crunchy supplement.
  • – Fresh vegetables are an excellent source of hydration and some pets like eating them as a snack or mixed with their regular food. My friend’s dogs like to chew on fresh carrots and broccoli. My cats like avocados and corn on the cob. If you notice that your pet is interested in fresh vegetables, it might be best to discuss it with your veterinarian.

Tips for the plants:

  • – On a very hot day, the plants need extra care as well. If you have a lawn, a garden or pots with flowers, herbs or bushes, keep your plant family members happy and thriving by giving them extra splashes of water on a sunrise and sunset.

Hope my thoughts were inspiring and helpful to you. I wish you, your family, pets, and plants to have a pleasant holiday!



Ward, E. (2017). How Hot Does It Get in a Parked Car? (video). Available at