Happy Fall Equinox and Simple Autumn Recipes

Happy Fall Equinox and Simple Autumn Recipes

Autumn officially arrives Friday September 22 at 10:02am ET/1:02pm PT, and darkness begins to dominate in the Northern Hemisphere. Acknowledging this shift, and choosing practices which align with nature's rhythms supports our overall health and well being.

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How to Eat Better Part Three

How to Eat Healthier Tip 3: Eat your biggest meal at lunch. Digestion is strongest in the middle of the day, so from a physiological perspective, it makes sense to eat the largest meal at that time. If your work schedule causes you to rush through lunch or just grab a quick bite, you may become hungry again in just a couple of hours later, and by mid afternoon, need to eat again. So are you really saving much time?

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How to Eat Better Part Two

Sit down and be aware of WHAT you’re eating. Acknowledge the WHERE of your food. With gratitude, connect with its origins, and who picked, delivered and prepared it.

Digestion is more efficient when we’re focused on our food. We think we’re getting more done while multitasking, but in fact our digestion suffers. Pause and take a few breaths before you begin the meal.

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Simple Tips to Keep Your Cool this Summer: Part Two

In Part One, we covered what to eat and drink to help you stay cool. As we draw closer to the peak of summer heat, we’ll dive into additional practices to manage this month’s temperatures.

Take a footbath in the evening. After showering to cool off at the end of a hot day, soak your feet in the bathtub or a basin of cool water with a few drops of essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, spearmint, or rose. Soak for 10 to ­15 minutes, and as your feet cool off, so will your entire body.

Put your legs up the wall. Sit on the floor with your hips touching the wall and knees bent. As you lift your legs up the wall, lie down, and swing your back so it’s perpendicular to the wall. Legs can be straight, or knees bent with the soles of your feet touching. This restorative yoga posture is almost magical with its profoundly relaxing effects. Legs up the wall is a perfect pose at the end a hot summer day, or right before bed, to cool off and promote a good night’s sleep.  

Avoid midday sun and exercising in the heat of the late afternoon and evening. If you’re a driven, fiery individual you might be inclined to exercise at the same time you regularly do. I’m always surprised when I see runners in the blazing afternoon sun, sweating buckets. The body cannot effectively cool itself under these stressful conditions, which can lead to major systemic imbalances. Instead, consider a swim, a (non-heated) yoga class if you know the studio has fans, or switching your outdoor exercise to the cooler, early morning hours.    

Loosen up! Heat expands, and tight shoes and clothing begin to feel tighter and constricting later on, generating even more discomfort. Wear looser, lighter colors and breathable fabrics. There’s a practical reason why white clothing is popular in the summer: it reflects the heat instead of absorbing it.   

Slow down. When summer is blazing hot, be less rigid about your schedule and make more space. Leave additional time for what you need to do and getting where you need to be. Being rushed, and getting upset or frustrated ignites more heat; that’s why an angry person is called hot­headed. Simply take a few deep inhales and exhales to keep your cool, and to respond rather than react.

It’s easy to discover your dosha, or Ayurvedic constitution via this online quiz. But it’s also possible to think about what season you prefer, and if you’d rather be snow skiing or swimming at the beach. Do you love to stay at home, or to travel? These are all clues to what elements are predominant in our life, and how we can stay in balance.

Simple Tips to Keep Your Cool This Summer: Part One

The sun in the Northern hemisphere sits high in the sky this month, just a few weeks after the Summer Solstice. The early sunrise rapidly warms the atmosphere, and the sun is still shining brightly in early evening at which time it’s often the highest temperature of the day.
Consider the teachings of Ayurveda, yoga’s wellness branch, as summer approaches. Ayurveda utilizes the five elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) to help manage summer’s heat so we don’t burn out. Fire is transformational and life supporting, but too much throws us off balance, which can lead to irritability, sunburn, hot headedness, and digestive upset. In order to feel cool as a cucumber rather than hot, sweaty and annoyed, follow these simple tips.
Fire is hot, penetrating, and transforming, and ignites powerful change. Think about this change in terms of food; with a bit of heat, something raw and inedible can become a nutritious and enjoyable meal. (I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s food documentary Cooked, on Netflix. The titles of each of the four episodes are Fire, Water Air, and Earth) Adding too much heat, however, will make that same food burned. To balance summer’s fire, add water, air and space, elements that are cool, mobile and expansive.
1. Drink plenty of cool, not cold water. Instead of placing ice cubes in water, add sprigs of fresh mint and cool, sliced cucumbers. This tasty combo will cool you from inside out. You can also add a squeeze of lime, another cooling fruit.
2. Rethink ice entirely. According to Ayurveda, cold, iced drinks, especially with meals, quell the body’s digestion, which depends on heat to transform food so it can be optimally absorbed and assimilated. This may seem counter intuitive, but cold temperatures shock the digestive system; without enough fire, the body must work harder to optimize this essential process. Many of my students have finally gotten rid of their heartburn and other GI disturbances by implementing this simple tip of eliminating iced drinks with meals.

3. Skip the hot spices and peppers, which create too much heat in the digestive tract. In summer, stick with cooling raw vegetables and fruits which naturally have a high water content, especially cucumbers and melons.

4. Eat three meals a day, rather than frequently snacking. Consider that every time you eat, the digestive system must go to work. This requires the body to generate more heat. Before I began following the Ayurvedic tradition of eating three real meals a day with little or no snacking, I would feel overheated, and not just in the summer. Once I stopped grazing all day, there was a surprising benefit: I began to feel less hot. It’s also important to make more space between eating dinner and going to sleep; you’ll be able to digest on a deeper level, and feel cooler overall.

5. Bring on the greens. Focus on eating and juicing plenty of leafy greens including spinach, kale, Swiss Chard, parsley, cilantro, bok choy and wild greens like dandelion, nettles, lambs quarters and purslane. Leafy greens have cooling properties, which help the body stay balanced. When in doubt, stick with what’s available at the local farmer’s market. Nature always provides what’s needed for the seasonal weather to help our body prepare for what’s ahead.
It’s easy to discover your dosha, or Ayurvedic constitution via this online quiz. But it’s also possible to think about what season you prefer, and if you’d rather be skiing in the snow or swimming at the beach. Do you love to stay at home, or to travel? These are all clues to what elements are predominant in our life, and how we can stay in balance.
A version of this post originally appeared on Yoga Smoga’s Rangoli platform.

Recipe: Coconut Mango Dairy Free Frozen dessert.

The sun has really warmed things up in SoCal as we approach the solstice. I've been playing with home made frozen treats in the vitamix, a high powered blender that whips frozen fruit into a creamy non dairy dessert with no ice cream maker needed. A regular blender should work too, just defrost the frozen fruit a bit first. This recipe is super simple with just two ingredients.

Amount per serving:

  • 3/4 cup frozen organic mangos 
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk

Blend the fruit and coconut milk together, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender when needed. Add additional coconut milk, one tablespoon at a time as needed. Serve immediately. 

All varieties of organic frozen fruits will yield delicious non dairy treats without added sugar, but bananas and mangos become super creamy when blended. Let me know what fruits you use!

How To Lighten Up this Spring Part Three



Your health is more likely to go out of balance during seasonal changes and weather shifts. Take a week or two to simplify your eating and wellness routines in order to clear what’s accumulated over the winter. Just like Spring cleaning your apartment or house, regular maintenance of the physical body in which you live helps keep a clear flow of energy, releasing excess weight and waste, which can contribute to joint pain, digestive distress, allergies, depression, and skin issues.

Since offering the first Reset and Renew online wellness program in 2012, hundreds of participants have reduced their in joint pain, renewed their energy, lightened up and experienced a natural state of joy, Reset and Renew participants cultivate self-care practices and daily routines which improve their health and well being on an ongoing basis. They have a new found awareness of the effect of foods on physical and emotional health.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cleanses and programs available. I’ve participated in many of them myself. Some are free, so why pay to do a program at all? I have tons of personal experiences to share from the past fifteen years of cleansing, but the biggest benefit of participating in a group program is the support of a community. On our forums and live webinars, you’ll connect with others going through the same process. By sharing personal victories as well as slips, being accountable, asking questions, offering guidance and being vulnerable, you’re part of something bigger; a group of like-minded individuals.

Remember why you’re participating in a program in the first place. Would you like a transformation to feel lighter, less bloated, and release excess weight from the winter without feeling depried? Do you want to have all kinds of energy and get up easily in the morning?  Do you want to feel more calm, stable, and grounded? Would you love to have a quality of life you never thought possible? When you get clear about intentions and share them with a community, it makes all the difference in the world. Investing in your health and well-being also creates accountability and commitment.

One of the challenges in participating in a program to improve your health is that friends, family and co-workers aren’t doing the same. They’re going about their normal routines, and eating and drinking as they always do, and it’s common to feel self-conscious. Without being accountable to a group, it’s easier to stray from guidelines or even drop out completely. It’s simpler just to follow the masses when you don’t have support. Plus, when you’ve made a financial investment, you’re more likely to take a program seriously; to really dive in. 

For over fifteen years, I’ve been cleansing. The first few years, I was totally on my own, and didn’t know anyone who’d ever done one! I was confused about specifics, didn’t feel great, and when a special occasion arose, I’d go off the program, forgoing the consequences. If I tried to get back on track, it was never with the same precision or interest. I believe I could have experienced even greater benefits those first few years if I’d had group support.

In contrast, when cleansing within a community, when I’ve shared my slip ups, I received encouragement to return to the program, forgive myself, and continue to do my best. I’ve learned strategies on how to successfully handle special events, and insights about myself through others and their own experiences.

When you’re part of a community you’re interacting you’ll receive encouraging responses and helpful suggestions from not just me, but from the group. You learn you’re not alone, and will get wonderful ideas of what to eat and how to take care of yourself.

I warmly invite you to join the Spring Reset and Renew online community! We begin with a week of preparation on April 4. Please email marjorienass@gmail.com with additional questions.

Tips To Lighten Up this Spring Part Two.

Add more greens to your glass, plate and bowl

Preparing healthy food for oneself is an act of self care. Eating more greens, just like moving your body in the morning, is a good year round practice, but especially important in Springtime. By eating nature’s local seasonal bounty, we take in what the earth produces in our ecosystem.

Ensure there is GREEN in more of your meals.

According to Ayurveda, the taste of greens is bitter, which helps us to clear out the excess waste (and excess weight) that's accumulated over the winter months. The bitter taste helps to balance the elements of earth and water, which have heavy, dense and cool qualities that predominate in early Spring. Eating more bitter greens retrains our palates from the Western Diet's predominant sweet and salty tastes. Try varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards, parsley and bok choy. Wild greens, including lamb’s quarters, dandelion greens and nettles are often at farmer’s markets, so express interest if you don't find them. Wild greens contain denser nutrients than cultivated greens.

Spring vegetables include artichoke, asparagus, fennel, spring onions, green beans, snap peas and snow peas. Young greens first appear as sprouts and shoots, which contain a highly concentrated nutrient value. Sprouts can be added atop most any dish or even blended into smoothies. 

Drink your greens:

Start your day with an early Spring green smoothie for breakfast.

  • One peeled large citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange (use two oranges if they're small)
  • 1/4-1/2 avocado 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of soaked chia or flax seeds. Hemp seeds can also be used but don't require soaking.
  • 1-2 two cups water

Enjoy the smoothie at room temperature. Cold, icy drinks are difficult to digest. 

Take a few deep breaths before drinking, and savor your smoothie.

Eat your greens:

Enjoy a large leafy green salad as a base for roasted vegetables at any meal. Make greens the mainstay when adding animal protein (preferably the best quality you can find). More often, farmer's markets are carrying ethically raised, sustainably sourced poultry and meat.


Simple sautéed leafy greens take just a few minutes to prepare. This is a basic blueprint, but add additional veggies or spices for variety.

Heat 1-2  tablespoons of coconut oil, ghee or grass fed butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat.

  • Sautée one cup chopped onions, shallots, or leeks for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add a cup of sliced mushrooms
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Add one to two bunches of greens, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped (when using the stems, roughly chop and cook with the mushrooms)
  • Continue to sautée the greens in the onion/mushroom mixture.
  • Add a few tablespoons of water, or bone broth, cover and steam several minutes.
  • Taste, and season again.
  • Optional: Add balsamic vinegar or coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative) to deepen the flavor
  • Optional: Add toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for an added crunch


Drink your greens at lunch or dinner:

  • Have a simple green soup with dinner, using leafy greens as a base.
  • Blend celery, fennel and avocado, and seasonings of your choice with vegetable broth, bone broth or water.
  • Thai curry paste is an easy way to add more zing to your living green soups.
  • Add a crunch with toasted pine nuts, pecans or pumpkin seeds.

Have fun experimenting in the kitchen as more local Spring produce becomes available.

Please let me know your favorite recipes using greens. Ready to lighten up this spring, drop excess weight, relieve your joint pain, sleep better and have more energy? Join us for the upcoming Reset and Renew Online Group Program starting April 4. 

Tips to Lighten Up this Spring, Part One

Over the winter, most of us spend a majority of time indoors in the Northern Hemisphere, simply because darkness dominates. In our Western culture, we are already sedentary to begin with, and in wintertime this excess results in stagnation in the body. In order to stay balanced moving into the Spring, we must cultivate qualities that release the winter accumulation.

Ayurveda, the science of life, presents that everything is some combination of the five elements; Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. In Autumn, Air and Space elements begin to dominate, with the qualities of variability, mobility(wind), dryness, and cold, which continue through winter.

As the days lengthen after Winter Solstice, the sun warms the atmosphere, melting snow and softening the earth. By winter’s end, an excess of water element can also build up within our bodies and throw our health off balance. This can appear as a runny nose from Spring allergies, the flu or a cold, or even a stomach upset. Feeling heavy or lethargic, and experiencing difficulty awakening, are symptoms of an excess of earth element, which appears stagnant, dense and cool.

The key to achieving balance year round is to cultivate the elements which contain opposite qualities of the present season. Especially in Springtime, starting the day with movement (air element) fires up the body’s circulation and brain function as it jump starts metabolism. Regularity and consistency of movement is key, and moving outdoors ideal, as daylight helps optimize our circadian rhythms, which govern hormones regulating sleep.

Here are some suggestions for getting moving early in the day.

  • Get outside for a walk, even for a few minutes.
  • If you like to run, but generally do so for longer periods of time, add short sprints.
  • Run up and down your apartment stairs, or outdoor stadium steps.
  • Sun salutations. Set a specific number. Since we’re in the middle of the month, add the numerals of the date. ie, March 20 = two sun salutations, March 21 = three sun salutations, and so on. On March 29, you’ve built up to eleven sun salutations!

Look for additional tips to Lighten up this Spring in the next couple of weeks. Until then, please comment below and let me know how you’ve added movement to start your day.

An Easier Transition to Daylight Saving

Sleep is vital to our health and well being. Losing a full hour when Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday March 12th can be disruptive as even ONE NIGHT of poor sleep can effect our mental and physical health.
Spring Forward is great news as it extends daylight into the evening hours. However, at least for the next few weeks, it will still be darker in the morning. This time change, like flying to a different time zone, can wreak havoc on our body's internal clock, leading to mental and physical fatigue. Curious about the history of daylight saving time? Click here for some fun facts.
Here's a simple way to help manage the artificial change of time when "losing" an hour. We can avoid the fatigue and depletion from losing the hour with some simple shifts. These practices also apply when traveling through different time zones.

This method will help to avoid fatigue early next week:

A. Head to bed ten to fifteen minutes earlier than usual, starting tonight.
B. Each night this week, go to sleep an additional ten minutes earlier. Arise in the morning ten to fifteen minutes earlier than usual, pushing the time back ten minutes more each day. If you continue to go to sleep at the same time and just wake up earlier, this technique won't be as effective. Following these steps, by Sunday, you'll have reset your internal clock by about an hour (6 nights of 10 minutes = 1 hour total), and the transition to Daylight Saving Time will be easier. You'll be less likely to depend on caffeine and sugar to feel awake and alert next Monday morning.

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes four to six servings.
Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

  • One large butternut squash (or two small)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
  • 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
  • one can organic coconut milk.  Make your own coconut milk by blending two cups water with one tablespoon organic coconut butter!
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Roast a butternut squash. Treat it like two separate vegetables when preparing to roast. Cut off the bulb of the vegetable, and scoop out the flesh and seeds. Halve the other, oblong part of the squash. Roast flesh facing down in a half inch of water, for one hour at 375 degrees, or until you can easily pierce the squash. Let cool, scoop out the flesh from the skin and set aside.
    Heat butter or ghee and sautee the leeks for 5-7 minutes in a soup pot.
    Add nutmeg, then butternut squash and broth. Cook for 10 more minutes.
    Either use an immersion blender to puree or transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
    Add the coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste, and blend again.

Winter Solstice 2016

The darkest, longest nights of the year occur just prior to the Winter Solstice, when, upon its arrival December 21st, the light begins to return. Since the Summer Solstice back in June, days have shortened, and nights have lengthened. Although the winter season still lies ahead, this portion of the year and ever shortening daylight is likened to the earth’s exhale. The Solstice itself represents the gap between the bottom of the earth's exhale and the beginning of the inhale. After the Winter Solstice, each subsequent day in the Northern Hemisphere lengthens until the Summer Solstice on June 20th, 2017.

On the days just prior to the Winter solstice, there is a gap, a space, where the sun no longer appears to be getting lower in the southern sky as it moves from East to West. It seems that the sun remains at its southernmost, lowest point, and that there's no movement from day to day at all. This where we get the word solstice (sun, still). After the Solstice, In the Northern Hemisphere each day is a bit lighter, and for the next six months, the sun appears higher and higher in the sky,. Being sensitive to nature’s rhythms, by mid-January I notice the subtle shifts of more light each day, as we heaimages-2d closer to spring and the Vernal Equinox March 20th.

I was neither attuned to the rhythms of nature, nor the Solstices and Equinoxes before I began practicing yoga. I experienced November and December as the most difficult months of the year, as my mood reflected the darkness of the season. Aligning with nature's seasonal, daily and monthly rhythms has helped to ceate more balance and ease in all areas of my life. This essential part of yoga lives within the wisdom of Ayurveda. Translated as knowledge of life, the healing science of yoga is essential for anyone who lives in a body. When we observe and acknowledge that at this time of year there is a limited amount of daylight, we can take simple steps to help access the inner light, the tejas, the flame that’s always present within us.


Six Steps to Find Balance During the Darkest Time of the Year:

  1. Light candles as soon as it becomes dark in the evening
  2. Upon arising in the darkness in the morning, light a candle, and begin few minutes of meditation, breath practices, or gentle yoga postures.
  3. Eat during the hours of daylight, as the strength of digestion is correlated with the times the sun is highest in the sky. Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day.
  4. Take a walk in the daylight hours, headed south, towards the sun whenever possible, in order to attune with the rhythms of nature.
  5. Head to bed earlier. Turn off electronics an hour before you plan to go to sleep, to promote deep rest and relaxation.
  6. Before bed, give yourself a foot massage using organic oil (sesame oil is a good choice in the winter months as it is warming), to help draw energy down from your mind and into your body. This relaxing ritual will help you to sleep more soundly. Put on socks so the oil stays on your feet and off your sheets.

The darkness during December is a time of moving inwards, of contemplation, and planning for the upcoming year. How do you want to feel in 2017? (Use this time  to create an intention for the New Year). I wish you a happy Winter Solstice! Please share your practices for this time of year in the comments, below.