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7 Things You Didn't Know About...Ashwaganda!

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If you read this title and thought, “I don’t even know what ashwagandha is,” you’re not alone.

Thanks to a renewed interested in holistic medicine, this Ayurvedic herb is gaining in popularity, but it’s still very much under the radar.

Ashwagandha has been used in India for centuries to boost the immune system, and studies show that it can aid the body in a number of ways, including to combat the physical effects of stress, improve learning and memory, and even offer relief for those who suffer from anxiety and depression.

As the wellness movement grows, you will likely hear more and more about this special herb. When you do, you’ll be armed with these 7 interesting facts:

1. Something smells…horse-y? The Sanskrit translation of ashwagandha is “the smell of a horse,” which, thankfully, is not literal. The term is meant to indicate that the herb will give one the vigor and strength of a stallion, and, rest assured, it smells simply like a dried herb, not a carriage house.

5 Simple Phrases to Improve Your Relationship

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Relationships are nurtured through our everyday communications, but sometimes it can be a challenge to bring conscious attention to interactions that can feel mundane. Too often, our richest relationships devolve into half-hearted inquiries about our partner’s day and bickering over whose turn it is to take out the trash. By allowing half-hearted communication to take the place of meaningful interaction, we not only show our partner that we take him or her for granted, but also rob ourselves of the joy we once drew from connecting with this person.

If we want our romantic relationships to last, this won’t fly. One of the easiest ways to show our partners that we are attentive and attuned to them is through our words. Instead of the tired and meaningless “How was your day?” try using these five fresh and compassionate expressions to improve your relationship and strengthen your communication:

Farmer’s Market Find: Asparagus

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My Mom and I have an unofficial tradition of getting together for dinner (usually she cooks for me!) whenever my Dad goes out of town for business. Not that we don’t want to hang out with him, but it’s a good time to catch up on all our girl talk! For one of our more recent dinners, my Mom whipped up a very tasty frittata using all natural ingredients, many of which she grew in her own backyard.

Her simple, delicious dish got me thinking about the endless combinations of seasonal vegetables that would be perfect baked into a frittata. So when I spotted some fresh asparagus at the farmers market last weekend, I knew exactly what the star of my early summer frittata would be!

Asparagus probably isn’t a new addition to your dinner plate. Chances are you’ve been eating it for years; but did you know how good it is for your body? Because it’s chock-full of fiber and protein, asparagus is great for digestion. It also contains several anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamin B, which can manage your blood sugar levels and protect you from serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes.

5 Healthy Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

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Tomorrow marks the summer solstice, the beginning of the summer season and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a time of celebration and festivities that kicks off months of backyard barbeques, lounging by the pool, and fun get-aways with friends and family. In ancient times, the first day of summer marked the height of Midsummer frolics that often involved maypole dancing, fertility festivals, and the harvesting of special healing herbs. While summer solstice celebrations vary throughout the world, this astrologically powerful day can be the perfect time to rejuvenate your body and celebrate new beginnings! Below are some great ways to honor June 21st.

A Friends and Family Bonfire

Many parts of the world celebrate the summer solstice with bonfires, harkening back to the now antiquated practice of frightening away evil spirits with fire. Regardless of whether or not you believe in this particular myth, there’s no doubt that a bonfire brings people together. It’s perfect for roasting summer veggies and spending time with family and friends!

Ask Health Coach Maria: What’s Better…Juices or Smoothies?

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Have a wellness question for Health Coach Maria? Ask her here

Hi Maria,

I recently started paying more attention to what I eat, and have started drinking smoothies and juices. Now I’m trying to decide between buying a juicer or a blender for my home. Is one better than the other?

Tom, FL

Smoothies and juices can both play a role in your healthy lifestyle, but when it comes down to choosing just one appliance for your home, I say blender, all the way!

A blender creates a smoothie from whole fruits and vegetables, macerating the skin and flesh—and all the fiber that comes with it—into a drinkable liquid. Nothing gets wasted. Because fiber takes longer to digest, smoothies are much more filling than juices and can even serve as a meal replacement. 

Video: How to Make Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh

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Cauliflower has become one of the trendiest vegetables in the restaurant world. Considering the incredible nutritional value of this cruciferous cultivar, that’s fantastic news for your health! Cauliflower is high in fiber, folate, and vitamin C, and is packed with phytochemicals that protect against cancer, boost heart health, and fight inflammation. 

In this video, Hailey from Wellness Today shares a creative and unexpected way to enjoy this delicious vegetable: tabbouleh! This simple recipe swaps out bulgur wheat for raw cauliflower, making it a nutritious and gluten-free alternative to your favorite Mediterranean dish. With no need to turn on the oven, it’s perfect for the upcoming summer months. Check it out below! 

Intro to Ayurvedic Doshas: Vata

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Welcome back to our series on Ayurvedic doshas! Last week we covered the Pitta dosha, and this week we’re diving into our next dosha: Vata. If you are a Vata, this post will help you understand how to recognize when your dosha is out of balance and what you can do to bring it back to center. (P.S. Still don’t know your dosha? Take this short test from Ayurveda expert Deepak Chopra to find out!)

Vata is the most lively and energetic of the three Doshas. If you are a Vata, either in your body or mind, you are probably very energetic, and it may be hard for your non-Vata friends to keep up! The primary characteristics of are cold, light, irregular, dry, moving, and changeable. This is the foundation that the Vata mind and body are built on, and will allow you to recognize when you are out of balance, so keep them in mind as you read this post. 

Commandments for Challenging Yourself

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Challenging yourself is a scary thought, isn’t it? For me, that scariness comes from the thought of failure—the fear of not completing the task I’ve challenged myself with. Besides the risk of not rising to a challenge you set for yourself, there’s also the uncomfortable idea of stepping out of your comfort zone, which can be scary in itself.

On the other hand—and the reason why I love a good challenge—challenging yourself gives you far more opportunities than threats, and the potential benefits outweigh whatever fear is holding you back.

One of my favorite websites for all things life and style is The Everygirl. I’ve been following them for quite some time now, and recently decided to start participating in their 30-day challenges.

Can Probiotics Cure Your Baby’s Crying?

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Few sounds are as disturbing as that of a crying baby. For parents of a colicky newborn who wails inconsolably, the stress can be downright brutal. “Colic” is most commonly defined as when an otherwise healthy baby cries uncontrollably for more than three hours a day, at least three days a week, for three or more weeks. Yes, that’s a lot of tears! It typically begins around two to three weeks of age and resolves on its own by three to four months. 

There are various theories about what triggers colic, but the cause is ultimately unknown. Some theories hypothesize that colicky babies are in digestive pain, while others believe that these babies have sensitive nervous systems and cry because they are over-stimulated. No one really knows, and because there is no known single cause, there is no real treatment. 

5 Healthy & Delicious Ways to Use Frozen Bananas

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Bananas are affordable, abundant, and way too easy to take for granted. Finally though, it looks like they’re getting proper credit, and have moved beyond the oatmeal bowl and ice cream sundae center. These days, it’s all about taking this tropical fruit to the next level. My favorite way to do this is simple and easy—just pop ‘em in the freezer!

Aside from being an amazing source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C, frozen bananas add a distinct richness to any recipe.

I have just two simple pro-tips to keep in mind when freezing your bunch: first, peel the skins before placing them in the freezer (it’s WAY harder to do this once they’re already frozen), and second, hold off on freezing until the bananas are a couple days passed ripeness. You know—brown spots, mushy bits, and all. Waiting until they’re overripe ensures they’ve reached optimal sweetness, which will make your frozen treats taste all the more delicious.

And unlike fresh bananas, these frozen bad boys have an extended shelf life, which means they can be kept in your freezer for up to one year without losing any of their nutrients or flavor.

So if you’re ready to cool down as the temperatures heat up, go ahead and freeze some bananas and try out these tasty, healthy treats.