Category Archives: Self Care & Healing

Green Smoothies & Other Tasty Treats to Help You Avoid Caffeine

I sometimes try not to consume caffeine, especially coffee. Among my various reasons are: (1) even though i LOOOOVE coffee, the caffeine does not love me back; (2) Some of my go-to health gurus recommend limiting one’s caffeine intake because this addictive drug reeks havoc on many people adrenal systems; and (3) I like to change things up periodically. During these caffeine-free situations, i find other tasty ways to energize myself throughout the day. Green smoothies and fresh juices are useful.  These are especially good during the seasons when a greater variety of fruit is available (and probably a little cheaper). They help the detox process go a little smoother, which helps me not be such a grouch! Here are a few options that help me.

GREEN SMOOTHIES 

Green Smoothie & FanonI absolutely LOVE green smoothies!!! They taste good, help me work plenty of greens into my daily diet life-it, and allow me to explore fruits and foods that i might not otherwise think twice about. For example, i had never heard of lucuma or acai powder before i got into green smoothies. Now, i always have some in my pantry.

 

Here are two recipes that i enjoy:

Cherry-Banana Green Smoothie
1c vegan milk
1-2 bananas 5-6 cherries [or more!]
2t Lucuma Powder
1t Acai Powder
2T nut butter [i use cashew or almond]
Fresh kale or spinach work well [or any other greens you like]

Walnut-Date-Banana
1c walnut milk
2 pitted and soaked dates
1 inch peeled raw ginger
2-3 frozen bananas
pinch of cinnamon [to your taste] 1/4t (or more) Maringa or Spirulina

Fresh greens

WATER, FRESH JUICE & Tea

First and foremost… DRINK MORE WATER!!! So many times, we forget how important water is for proper body function.

Fresh Juice
If you can get your hands on a juicer (any ol’ juicer will do), you will be doing yourself a HUGE favor. Like smoothies, fresh fruit and veggie juices are great snacks and may even act as periodic meal replacements.
Tea
There are a variety of caffeine free teas out there. I go for Rooibos or Honeybush tea when i want the sensation of drinking something warm, but don’t want the caffeine. One quick warning is to go for the high quality teas. Some brands include potentially harmful substances in their tea and tea bags, so choose carefully.

BONUS: NUTS & SEEDS

Assuming you’re not allergic, a handful of cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds can go a looooong way when you’re battling sleep after lunch. Mix them together with some raisins and you’ve got a delicious snack that might also sooth your sweet tooth. I’ve recently had conversations with people who told me that they’re supposed avoid these items because of their fat content. I would argue that if you’re trying to limit your fat intake, go for the nuts and seeds and cut back (or completely cut out) the saturated animal fats. Studies have shown that fat from plants is much better for your body than animal fat. You don’t want to over consume any fatty food. But when you consider the various options, i think it’s better to indulge in some homemade trail mix than to feast on the steak.Just my humble opinion.

Now for a simple recipe:

1/4c Raw or RoastedAlmond
1/4c Raw or Roasted Cashew
1/2c Raw or Roasted Sunflower seed
1/4 c Raisins or date chunks
and if you don’t mind being bad…
dark chocolate (which will likely have a tad bit of caffeine, by the way) Enjoy!

Combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder

I love summer and all of the festivities that i associate with it. The sun rises before i wake, and it stays in the sky until i’m just about ready to call it a night. I enjoy feeling the summer sun on my skin and feel encouraged to be more active. Probably for these reasons, i’ve absolutely DREADED the end of summer/coming of fall ever since i can remember.

Every year (around late August-early September) i feel like i have to brace myself for the decreased sunlight and cooler temperatures. This year,  October hadn’t even arrived when i began feeling sluggish, sad, distracted, and grouchy. I knew there was a serious problem one day when i didn’t want to make any tasty food and felt completely ambivalent about DJing a great event.

When i realized what was happening, i decided to take immediate action! I can confidently say that these things have helped me out a little.

GET OUTSIDE IN THE SUN
I enjoy exercising, especially riding my bike and running. During the fall (before it gets too cold) i try to get some running miles in or take a non-transportation related bike ride for at least 20 or 30 minutes later in the afternoon when the sun seems to be the most radiant. I highly recommend making use of any local nature trails or high school and college exercise facilities that are open to the public. Just getting to these spaces like the nature trails may soon become motivating, simply because they can be so pretty and peaceful. Walks are also very nice, especially when in the company of a friend or loved one. In fact, i spotted the little fella above when taking a stroll through my neighborhood. It made my day!

SCRAP THE CAFFEINE
I love telling my friends about how my mother used to hate coffee, and how even the smell of it disgusted her. But when she became pregnant with me, she began to drink it regularly (decaf, of course). Although, i credit myself with giving her the gift of enjoying a great cup of joe, that does have a downside. I came out the womb addicted to coffee! However, i’ve learned that coffee — specifically the caffeine that makes it even more irresistible to me — is like any other drug in that i typically crash after my high. The crash is much more painful when i’m already down. Although i’m not 100% caffeine free, whenever i go a few days without it i feel as though my inborn vitality begins returning to me. I’m able to get that energy buzz from other things i enjoy in life, such as a cup of fresh juice or a green smoothie.

Spaghetti Squash Dish

Spaghetti Squash. One delicious treat that makes Autumn such a lovely season.

EXPLORE THE FRUITS OF FALL
I don’t have many regrets so far. But one thing i wish i had done different earlier in life was consume more pumpkin! I remember carving out jack-o-laterns as child and throwing away all of the seeds and fruit! S.M.H. Now, i’m not so into making faces out of the pumpkin; but, i’ll devour one in a heartbeat! Pumpkin pancakes, decaf pumpkin chai tea, egusi soup, roasted pumpkin seed with a touch of salt… i could go on. And that’s just ONE fall food. There are several other fruits and veggies that flourish during the late summer and fall. Explore them and appreciate what mama nature provides to help us deal with the reduced sunlight and cooler weather. (Also important and related to fall foods are trying to eat an overall healthy diet life-it and doing seasonal cleanses.)

SNUGGLE TIME WITH THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE
Although i dislike cooler weather, it does have at least two benefits. The first is that when i wanna be snuggled up with Ms. Cupcake Queen, i don’t have to worry about either of us getting too hot. In fact, because it’s cooler there is more of a incentive for us to get closer!

GET CREATIVE WITH THE WARDROBE
The 2nd benefit of the cooler weather is wearing more clothes. I’m not too into fashion, but when i put on a sweater that i’m really digging i feel like a million bucks! Less heat means more layering, which allows for nice combinations of jackets, hats, pants, and even socks. When it’s hot outside, my favorite outfit is that with the least amount of material (i.e. flip flops, tank tops, and shorts). Fall allows me to re-invent my look every day using a variety of fresh combinations from the clothing i already own.

So there it is. This is how i self-medicating during the season change. It is also useful to many people to invest in special light bulbs and to consume teas or herbal extracts like St. John’s Wort (sounds bad, but it’s really quite good). These allow me, and others, to avoid experimental medications from the daytime tv ads. The goal is to get more in line with mama nature’s natural transitions.

– Much Love

What is A Turntable Liberationist?

I’ve been asked on many occasions: “Brotha O, what do you mean you refer to yourself as a ‘Turntable Liberationist’?” The answer to this question is both easy and difficult. The easy answer is that i am a turntablist (one who uses turntables as an instrument) with a liberation-oriented agenda. This is where the answer become a lil more difficult. It requires that We break down the word liberation.

“Liberation,” according to several dictionaries, has something to do with doing away with oppression. I attempt to make this somewhat vague idea tangible in several ways. The first is through my music selection. As a self-styled turntable liberationist, i am careful to play music that i believe affirms people’s humanity and does not assault or insult them on the dance floor.  Therefore, you’re likely to hear me play music that celebrates life and living in ways that do not cause harm to others. In other words, it’s veeeery rare that you’ll hear tracks that refer to people in disrespectful ways because of their race, class, gender(s), sexual preference(s), etc. I would like to claim that i never play tracks that are oppressive, but sometimes i miss or misunderstand lyrics (esp. when some songs are in languages that i don’t understand). I do try my best to avoid such songs.

Part of being a turntable liberationist also include education. I am an educator and attempt to expose myself and others to a variety of ideas and cultures. That requires me to play music you probably don’t hear 50 times each day against your will. Here are two fantastic songs that you may hear in my mixes and feel deep in your soul at a party:

Exhibit A [click here for an explanation of the song’s meaning]

Exhibit B

– Much Love

Tru Skool Tuesday: For the Body & Soul

I recently decided to get back in shape. After falling off my exercise regimen, it’s time to get back on it! Aside from the physical benefits, i believe that eating healthy and taking care of my body helps me be more aware of the spiritual aspects of living. This collection of songs are speak to both aspects of improving ones health, and they are helping keep me motivated… gotta have some good music to get me amped before a run or bike ride!

– Enjoy!

Liberation Culture: Fashioning A Comprehensive Approach

Sometimes incidents like the recent Trayvon Martin killing become opportunities for social justice and civil rights groups to mobilize mass meetings and demonstrations that challenge the continued pervasiveness of racialized violence. It saddens me that We live in such a violent society that it takes massive amounts of angry people to prompt investigations around such injustices. My sadness is compounded by the frustration i experience when conversations and demands stimulated by the violence against Black youth and adults are framed narrowly due to (hetero)sexism [click HERE for an explanation of heterosexism], regionalism, class, and many other oppressive “common sense” ideologies that guide our daily thinking.

Recently, filmmaker and cultural worker, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, published a series of articles challenging the narrowly constructed framework for understanding and reacting to violence perpetuated against Black bodies. Her series questions why We (social justice oriented people of all backgrounds) tend to react with righteous indignation in the wake of the assaults, incarcerations, and murders of assumed heterosexual Black men, but do not place the same energy in addressing assaults, incarcerations, and murders of Black women and girls, trans folk, and queer Black (wo)men.

I must point out that she seemed to hesitate even raise to the question, because it might not be “the right time” (during Sexual Assault Awareness Month) and because by suggesting that We should equally regard all violence against innocent people, she might experience some backlash. BACKLASH. Why? Well, because seemingly heterosexual men have a value in this society, even amongst justice seeking and peace loving people. There is much more to her articles, and i strongly encourage everyone to read and discuss them.

I want to use this space to briefly reflect on Simmons’ suggestion that We rethink the idea that We can only focus on one (i.e. the most important) issue at a time as We try to create a more humane world. As i read the articles, i began to think about my own perception of who/what is “worthy” of my active participation. With whom do i speak in solidarity? Why? I quickly realized that i perpetuate some of the problems Simmons writes about in her articles. For example, i used to participate in workshops dedicated to encouraging men and boys to become active agents in the struggle against gendered violence. However, even in those spaces (some for which i was facilitator), it was almost impossible for me to understand (and even care about) how sexual assault against women and girls (or rape culture more broadly) is connected at the roots with homophobia and transphobia. When i finally accepted that and became an open ally to queer and trans folks, i noticed more connections and silences.

The most recent one with which i’ve struggled and am thinking through deals with region: of the recent incidents that gained significant attention, where did these incidents take place? How did the location factor into the response? Interestingly, the incidents that generated the most widespread and thorough responses (from what i could tell) took place in the south. For example, on the March 21, 2012 an off-duty police officer, Dante Servin, shot and killed Rekia Boyd in Chicago. Less than 2,000 people have signed the petition to prosecute Servin for murdering Boyd, a situation that is frigteningly similar to the petition on behalf of Ms. Nafissatou Diallo (New York)[see “Who Will Revere US” part 2].

I am not suggesting that region alone determines the reaction. Instead, region, gender, sexuality, age, and a whole list of other factors work together to produce certain responses in each of us. Those responses are engineered by a misguided, but pervasive, framework that creates a hierarchy of worth and determines whose oppression is more important. Because of that, We’re likely to see a greater response to injustices against Black men and boys than Black women and girls, regardless of what region they are located (Think Howard Morgan [Chicago] and Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. [White Plains, NY]).

It is time (really, it’s way past time) that We (social justice oriented people of all backgrounds) understand oppression as web of injustices that depend on each other for their survival. Therefore, when We address racial profiling (for example), We should understand how it affects people disproportionately depending on what their presumed class position, apparent gender and sexuality, locale, and more. The problems are multidimensional and our approach to addressing them should be as comprehensive as possible.

– Much Love

A Path to Healthier Eating

People often ask me for advice when they desire to create a healthier diet LIFE-it. Out of these conversations, as well as my research, self-reflection, etc., i’ve developed a strategy that may be helpful to folks going through that process. I mention vegan and raw food often, but the ideas can be applied to and embraced by those who eat animal products as well. This is a work-in-progress, so i’ll update it periodically as i learn more about healthy living.

Beginning
If i’m ever famous, then the saying that i hope people associate with me is that being vegan and/or raw is harder to think about than to actually put into practice. It’s as simple as cutting an apple or making a delicious Green Smoothie! [note: i strongly encourage that you CHEW your green smoothies as opposed to gulping them down. it will help you digest better and allow you more time to listen more carefully to your body as you eat.]

As you begin to cut animal products from your meals, don’t worry about protein.You’ll get enough unless you try (very hard) not to! Instead, think about trying a variety of veggies, especially the green leafy ones. Look up recipes on www.vegweb.com, www.fatfreevegan.com, etc. There is a list of great websites below. Consider what meals you already like, then look up the vegan versions of those recipes.

Stay away from sugary foods and added salt as much as possible.I’ve experimented with this in a variety of ways. I noticed that i feel my best when i’m not adding much (if any) salt to my recipes. Also, try to consume only a minimal amount concentrated sugars and high-sugar fruits (agave, honey, dates, raisins, figs, etc).

Raw Caesar Salad

Finally, eat organic green leafy veggies with every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner).It’s not as difficult as it may seem. Begin your day with a green smoothie, have a hearty salad with lunch, then maybe eat some lightly cooked greens with dinner. If you’re eating a head of lettuce or bunch of greens (along with other veggies) each day, then your body will love you!

I emphasize vegetables because i, and many other people, have made the mistake of being junk food vegans. We depend(ed) on processed, fake meats, tofu, etc. There is nothing wrong with consuming these things in moderation. But some folks overdo it. Also, many of us depend too much on fruit and nuts, which can also be a bad thing.

Drink More Water. Make the eight glasses of water thing your bare minimum. Most of the natural health experts suggest drinking half of your body weight (in ounces) worth of water. In other words, if a person weighs 160 lbs then s/he should consume 80 ounces of water each day.

Getting Good at It
Invest in some appliances that will help you become more creative with your edible art! You may want to purchase a good blender, food processor, high quality water filter (at least something like this), juicer, and dehydrator. If you only get the first three, you’ll be very happy. I highly recommend a juicer, because i believe that drinking store bought juice is similar to drinking soda and artificial “juice” drinks. Having a dehydrator is also a great investment for people who are serious about eating raw and/or low-heat (under 105º) prepared foods. It definitely makes more options available for anyone who’s trying to diversify their recipe book!

Soak your nuts and seed before eating them. One naturepath told me that they’re “1000% healthier that way.” I believe it!

Learn the best food combinations: http://www.rawfoodexplained.com/digestive-physiology-and-food-combining/food-combining-rules.html

Eat alkaline forming foods:
http://www.acidalkalinediet.com/Alkaline-Foods-Chart.htm

Helpful Practices
Find other vegans to hang out with. People seem a little less hostile to vegans now than when i first started down this path. Even still, it’s great to know people with whom you can eat out without worrying about whether their preferred restaurants are TRULY vegan friendly (i.e. complete separation of vegan food from animal product food). You may also want to attend some of the local vegan meetups like these: http://www.meetup.com/The-Raw-Chicago/ and http://rawfood.meetup.com/222/.

Cleanse/fast regularly. Most of the health gurus recommend doing a variety of cleanses that help the body purge built up wastes and toxins (environmental and edible). How often one should cleanse/fast is debatable, so check with a variety of sources and decide what’s best for you.

Patronize Vegan Restaurants.I personally don’t like to eat out very often. But, i do find it important to make sure that fully vegan dining options are available. So, when i go out to eat at these places when the option is available. Some of my favorites are Cousin’s Raw Vitality (Chicago), Yah’s (Chicago), and Chicago Diner (yes, it’s in Chicago), Spiral (Dallas), Green (San Antonio), Go Raw Cafe (Las Vegas), Lovin’ It Live (Atlanta)… The list could go on for days, especially once i get my D.C., Baltimore, NYC, & Detroit spots on the list. The food is great, and my non-vegan friends often prefer these places over the many options!

EXERCISE!!!
There’s no getting around it! In order to help your body function at it best, you must exercise. You don’t have to do P90x in order to feel great; you can walk to and from the grocery store and do some yoga, purchase some exercise DVDs that have “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” level workouts, and/or ride a bike to work. And, there are exercise routines floating around the internet for people of almost ALL levels of ability. I’ve found that the best exercise for me is that which i work into my lifestyle. Get creative and imaginative, and GET MOVING!

Recipes & Health Advice:
http://therawdifference.com/blog/
http://freshblackberry.com/
http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com
http://byanygreensnecessary.com/
http://finallynomoreacne.com/
http://renegadehealth.com/blog/
http://www.aniphyo.com/
http://goneraw.com/
http://www.living-foods.com/recipes/
http://chetday.com/bethrecipes.html

http://rawveg.info/
http://www.gojuvo.com/
http://www.greensmoothie.com
http://almostrawvegan.com/
http://www.rawfullytempting.com/
http://www.nomeatathlete.com/
http://www.brendanbrazier.com/

Are you creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself? If so, what’s your strategy? What tasty vegan restaurants do you recommend in your city? With whom do you consult for recipes and advice? How do you stay in shape?

– Much Love

You can literally exercise ANYWHERE!


7 Day Juice Fast: Some Recipes & Lessons Learned

Every now and then i like to give my digestive system a break as part of my larger effort to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. I recently did that via a 7-day juice fast. During that seven days i enjoyed some of super tasty juices for which i have a few recipes! Check em out:

1. Life Juice (1-2 Apples, 1-2 Leafy Greens, 3″ Burdock Root, 1″ Ginger, 1/2 Lemon w/peel)

2. Mean Green

3. Pomegranate-Blueberry Juice (1 large Pomegranate, 10-15 Blueberries)

4. Citrus Flush (1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 2 carrots, 1 orange pepper) * Add 1-2″ Burdock for a delightful flavor enhancement

5. Minty-licious (4 Celery, 1 Apple, 1 Lime, Handful o’ Mint, Handful o’ Spinach)

6. Red Velvet (3 Carrots, 2 Granny Smith Apples, 1 Orange, 1/4 Beet)

7. Random Experiment (2 Sweet Orange Peppers, 1 Head Romaine, 1/5 Orange, 1 Grapefruit, Handful of Parsley) tasted “interesting.” Not bad, but prob wont make this one again.

8. The REAL V8 This one hit the SPOT when i wanted “something to eat!”

Some Lessons Learned

I’ve done similar things before and thought that i had gotten all of the mistakes out of the way. But, i neglected one important — i’d say essential — rule of fasting. One must eliminate for optimum results. I spoke with several people who had done this type of fast/cleanse (one who went 21 days on juice) and none of them seemed to worry about elimination. However, whenever i looked up “juice fasting” on the web, folks would advocate doing something daily to give the colon a lil rinse. It makes sense to me; when We fast, the body begins to push toxins out of muscle tissue and organs. A major channel for getting those things out of the body is the the colon.

On day 4, i got really sick. I felt nauseous and had terrible stomach pains. I believe this was “healing crisis.” Healing crisis is a wide range of uncomfortable physical symptoms that one may experience as the body attempts to purge itself of medications, heavy metals (other environmental pollutants), excess wastes, and many other things that might be stored in ones body tissue. By all accounts, the best way to minimize healing crisis is to eliminate the toxins one’s body is attempting to remove.

Another possible problem are my fruit & veggie combination juices. Some online resources recommend juicing fruits and veggies separately. I’ve also heard that one should minimize the fruit juice and drink it during the early hours of the day. I mixed the fruit and veggie juices and drank fruit juices into the evening. Maybe those actions were problematic and contributed to the wackness i felt on day four (and beyond — i was extra sleepy for the remainder of the fast).

The lesson for me is that next time i juice, i’ll need to be ready to drink some special tea, do a salt water flush, or do daily enemas. Maybe that will help me avoid some of the healing crisis symptoms that i believe i experienced this time around. I’m going to experiment more with the fruit & veggie combinations, and try to keep the fruit juices as daytime drinks.

Have you ever done a juice (or water) fast for more than a day or two? If so, what was your experience like? Did you consult with fellow fasters or an expert? Please do share.

– Much Love