Being There for an Urgent Need – The Cassandra Fund

Living Beauty Cassandra

The Cassandra Fund is a donor-supported fund at The Foundation for Living Beauty used to support women with cancer when they are in a difficult spot.

We know that there are many difficulties that can arise when a woman is dealing with cancer. Even with the best health insurance, sometimes it becomes challenging to simply put food on the table, be able to get to an appointment or be able to cover the mortgage. When the difficulty of having cancer is exasperated with an urgent need just to survive, The Cassandra Fund, named after a former Living Beauty, is there to support.

We’ve been talking about this fund both in and out of our organization recently, mainly because the number of urgencies we’re being presented with for women with cancer seems nonstop at the moment.

We have been fortunate to help a number of women with critical needs and one of those women is Susan.  When Susan was in treatment for advanced colon cancer, she was living in a shelter with her elementary school-age daughter.  The Cassandra Fund was able to provide critical treatment medications to Susan and clothing and shoes for her daughter so she could attend school.  The fund has also provided Susan with groceries, and during the holidays has supported her family through the Holiday Angels program.  The Cassandra Fund helped Susan when she needed it most.

That’s the purpose of The Cassandra Fund.

The impact of the fund is to make life just a tad bit easier for women like Susan by covering the cost of an urgent need, up to $500.00.

We are grateful to all of you who actively support this fund. Without your donations to it, we’d be unable to be a resource when times get even more difficult. Donate to the Cassandra Fund here.

Meet Rebecca Little the Photographer Behind “Beauty is. . .”!

Rebecca Little photographing Living Beauty Anita in Jewelry from G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers

 

Rebecca Little is a Pasadena-based photographer specializing in photographing women and making them look and feel beautiful in front of the camera! Rebecca has been a long time supporter of The Foundation for Living Beauty. She has donated her time not only taking photos at our fundraising events and programs but also photographing our Living Beauties at Day of Living Beauty, an event focused on giving women with cancer the opportunity to be pampered by having their hair and makeup done and beautiful professional portraits taken. Rebecca donated her time and talent to Living Beauty yet again in support of our “Beauty is . . .” campaign showcasing the stunning jewelry by G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers and modeled by our Living Beauties. Keep reading to find out more about Rebecca’s experience working on the campaign!

 

Rebecca Little, Photographer for “Beauty is. . .”

FFLB: How were you first introduced to Living Beauty and what drew you to our mission?

Rebecca: I met Nancy when she joined the Pasadena Chamber and that was more than a few years ago. She was doing what she does best and spreading the word about the foundation and the good work they do.

The Foundation’s mission is much needed. They help so many women and offer advice, camaraderie, and a range of free programs. I’ve heard directly from the Living Beauties how much they value the support they’re given. To be with other women going through the cancer journey and be able to share and commiserate is invaluable.

 

FFLB: What was it like working with Living Beauties as models for the photographs?

Rebecca: The women were so fun to work with! They were thrilled to be modeling the amazing jewelry and getting their portraits taken. They would hang out after their photoshoot to catch up with their friends as they arrived for their sessions. The mood was upbeat and it was a beautiful day.

 

FFLB: How do you think modeling this jewelry and having their photos taken impacted the Living Beauties who participated?

Rebecca: First, it’s a thrill to wear this gorgeous jewelry. Each piece Tracy brought out was more beautiful than the next. You feel so glamorous and pretty, and the ladies were all oohing and aahing over what they got to wear. Then to see yourself represented authentically and beautifully in a portrait can be such an esteem booster, especially if you’re not feeling your best or you’ve had multiple surgeries. It was important to me to bring out the best in each woman and make her feel beautiful.

A huge thank you to Rebecca for donating her time to this campaign in support of The Foundation for Living Beauty and women with cancer! You can check out Rebecca’s website and portfolio here. To read more about the campaign and Traci Wilke from G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers click here.

 

 

 

Living Beauty x G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers

The Foundation fo Living Beauty is excited to Introduce “Beauty is . . .”, a collaboration between G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers and Goldsmiths and Living Beauty! G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers is an amazing company located in San Gabriel co-owned by the fabulous Tracy Wilke.

Tracy and The Foundation for Living Beauty teamed up to feature Living Beauties as models for G.H. Wilke and Co.’s jewelry! Over the next few weeks we will be sharing on our social media beautiful photos taken by photographer Rebecca Little of our women wearing the stunning jewelry. Rebecca, a long-time Living Beauty supporter, specializes in photographing women and making them look and feel beautiful in front of the camera. These images evoke the true beauty and strength of women and each image will include a quote about what beauty means to each Living Beauty.

All of the jewelry featured is one of a kind and a portion of jewelry sales from now until Mother’s Day will be donated to The Foundation for Living Beauty in support of our mission to educate, uplift and empower women with cancer!

We spoke with Tracy Wilke about the beautiful jewelry and what inspired her to partner with Living Beauty to showcase it!

 

Tracy Wilke, Co-Owner of G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers and Goldsmiths

 

FFLB: How were you first introduced to Living Beauty and what drew you to our mission?

Tracy: I found out about the Foundation for Living Beauty through an introduction by Joan de Souza to Nancy Davidson. Nancy was engaging and so fervent in her goals for the organization to help women in ways that truly addressed deep needs. Nancy and I met for coffee and I felt strongly that I should find a way to help and partner with her.

 

FFLB: What was the inspiration behind partnering with Living Beauty to showcase your beautiful jewelry?

Tracy: We all know women with a cancer experience.  Two of the most frequent points I hear are the intense loneliness of the diagnosis and the shock and terror at receiving it. The immune system needs to be bolstered and part of that is a mental attitude. Living Beauty envelopes the women with resources, encouragement, a safe and understanding place to vent, peer to peer advice, experiences and products that make them feel normal and positive.

Something I’ve seen for the many years I’ve been in jewelry is that women are self-conscious about their nails, their hair, their clothes and their general style. When I put beautiful jewelry on them they explode with excitement and joy. I thought it would bring joy to these ladies as well.

 

FFLB: How do you think modeling this jewelry and having their photos taken impacted the Living Beauties who participated?

Tracy: Jewelry is transformative. People self-purchase or give jewelry as a connection – whether to the past,  the present or the future. The women were all thrilled to be wearing beautiful jewelry and some didn’t want to take it off. I was hoping that for at least a little time, the photoshoot would provide them a thrill of self-expression and documentation of that experience (the pictures). I think they went away feeling more aware of their own unique beauty.

 

FFLB: How did you decide what pieces would be featured in the campaign and could you tell us more details about the pieces of jewelry being featured?

Tracy: I asked Nancy to send me photos of the ladies and I spent quite a bit of time going through my jewelry to find pieces that seemed to highlight their essence. I looked at hair and clothing styles to try and determine what to bring out in each woman. It’s what I do here at the store – try to showcase the individual’s personality through the jewelry they wear.

 

To check out the entire collection of jewelry visit this link. To read more about Rebecca Little’s experience photographing our Living Beauties click here!

a woman seated on the ground wearing leggings and a hat with her arms crossed in front of her and a group of women looking at her

Meet Donor and Facilitator Lisa Taitelman

 

The Foundation for Living Beauty provides free wellness and support services to women with cancer and we are able to do this because of the generous support of our donors! Living Beauty spoke with a dedicated donor and asked her to share her story of why she gives. Lisa Taitelman is not only a committed donor, but also an amazing facilitator who has worked with Living Beauties at our Goddess Wellness Retreat, as well as lead her own stand-alone workshops. Read more to learn about the programs she brings to our women as well as why she is a huge supporter of Living Beauty!

FFLB: How did you become connected to Living Beauty?

Lisa: I was introduced to your awesome organization through a fellow health coach, Jeanette Carbajal, who recommended that I connect with you all… and am so glad I did!

FFLB: What is it about our mission that inspires you to give?

Lisa: It was after the loss of my own mom to cancer, I started on my path of self-discovery and learned how hiking became the vessel for my healing and changed the course of my life as I know it today. I have educated and inspired many women through the healing power of nature to shed limiting beliefs and live a life of joy and fulfillment. I went back to school in my early 50’s to become a transformational coach, and through my education and life experience, I have created a program called “Follow Your Trail”, a 6-week empowerment program which focuses on healing, and finding one’s truth in nature through self-care, self-love and community. When I was introduced to Living Beauty, it spoke straight to my heart! I love that you provide a safe haven through wellness retreats for all these women going through the most difficult time in their lives in all different stages of cancer… and FREE to all of them. I love how you offer them a beautiful community of other women going through something similar so they don’t feel alone in a very scary time in their lives. I wish I would have known about Living Beauty when my mom was diagnosed all those years ago. I believe that it may have saved her life. I love your mission and everything it stands for and it makes me want to give back to these incredible women. I know firsthand how my mom suffered and I felt so helpless, giving back has fulfilled me in so many ways. It has given me new meaning in my life to be a facilitator at Living Beauty and to donate portions of my program with them in honor of my mother.

FFLB: When giving to do Living Beauty, what impact do you expect your donation to have?

Lisa: I want to be able to share my story with other women, through the healing power of nature, whether it is a walk at the beach, or a hike in the mountains. I want to shout out to them how hiking healed me and how it can heal them too, I believe I needed to find out what hiking had to teach me. I found my voice and I found ME! Women tend to put all others first, before ourselves, our partners, our kids, even our pets. I want other women to know that we must take care of ourselves first, and that is not selfish, but a gift we give to ourselves and to our loved ones. Through Follow Your Trail, I show them how to give from a full cup, and not an empty one, otherwise we become depleted, exhausted, resentful and ultimately sick. I have come to learn through the loss of my mom, disease starts with “DIS-EASE” in the body. Giving back this way to Living Beauty has been the most meaningful part of my work and journey thus far. By giving to them, I get so much more in return from all of these amazing women. I like to call them warriors, because that is what they all are. True Warriors. So, the impact I am hoping my donation has is that I want to show these women that they all have the power within themselves to be strong, make change, be resilient, feel empowered and liberated, it all comes down to the power of our mindset and what we chose to tell ourselves. I like to say, “Be careful what you tell yourself, because you are listening”!

 

 

logo for Foundation for Living Beauty showing a purple lotus flower in a blue circle

What is #GivingTuesday?

According to their website, “Giving Tuesday is a movement that unleashes the power of radical generosity around the world.” It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into an annual global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

On Thanksgiving we celebrate with family and food; Black Friday is all about shopping and getting the best deal; Saturday we support small businesses and shop local; and Cyber Monday is focused on shopping online. The next day, Giving Tuesday, is all about giving back! It is a day to give, to celebrate nonprofits and their missions, and to support our communities.

The Foundation for Living Beauty loves participating in #GivingTuesday because it gives us a chance to be part of this global philanthropic effort while also sharing the stories of women with cancer and how donating to Living Beauty helps support them on their cancer journey.

If you’d like to fundraise on Facebook, click here for a guide to setting up your own, personal fundraising page.

You can also give directly on our website.

We can also assist with a matching donation from your employer, choosing us through your Donor Advised Fund, or setting up a monthly donation!

Also, tax laws have changed so be sure to speak with your financial adviser about how your giving will affect your taxes for 2021.

We also have a new way to give! Living Beauty is participating in #CryptoTuesday, a new Giving Tuesday all about donating cryptocurrency! The goal is to encourage a culture of charitable giving among the crypto community. Click here to donate!

Or to explore other ways to support visit www.livingbeauty.org/giving.

a woman in a blue living beauty t-shirt holding her hair that has just been cut

Rosie Gives

This week, as we are leading up to Giving Tuesday, The Foundation for Living Beauty has been highlighting what giving means to us. One of the most inspiring forms of giving we see is from one Living Beauty to another. When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, she often faces the reality of balancing her life and her health as she works, cares for children, acts as a caregiver for adult family members and more, often while dealing with aggressive treatment and its side effects. Even within this difficult reality, our Living Beauties are still moved to do everything they can to support one another on their cancer journeys and pay it forward whenever possible, whether it be giving advice to another Living Beauty at a retreat or providing food for a Living Beauty and her family during the pandemic. These moments of selflessness that our women share with one another remind us of the power of sisterhood and community that can flourish among women. Here we are highlighting the story of our Living Beauty Rosie as she donates her hair to help make wigs for women experiencing hair loss while in treatment!

Rosie invited Living Beauty to share in this special experience as she had her hair cut for the fourth time to donate and we were able to speak with her about the impact she is making!

FFLB: Can you tell us about your journey as a Living Beauty?

Rosie: In 2019, I met an incredible woman (Angie) who became my friend. She was a living beauty thanks to another living beauty (Jeanette). Both of them have transitioned from this earth. Angie shared with me what Living Beauty was, so I went on the website and looked into it. At first I was hesitant because I’m a private person or more of an introvert when it comes to my personal life. I joined Living Beauty in January 2020 which was about 6 months after my treatment. I have met so many wonderful women who have taught me to open up about my own journey which has helped me move forward.

FFLB: You mentioned you have donated your hair in the past. What inspires you to donate your hair?

Rosie: This is my 4th hair donation. In 2012, I donated 18 inches of my hair for the first time. My hair was very long (below my seat). I wanted to shorten it but I didn’t want it to go to waste. I began to research hair donations and saw there was a huge need for hair donations to help make wigs for patients experiencing hair loss. I thought about the women in my life and thought it could be anyone one of them, not knowing I’d be the one to receive a cancer diagnosis 7 years later. At the end of 2019, my friend Angie transitioned from this life. I chose to grow my hair out and pay it forward for having the opportunity she did not get. This donation is in her honor.

FFLB: Why is it important to you to give back and pay it forward?

Rosie: I grew up helping others, from tutoring other kids in my neighborhood to helping the Kiwanis Club. I received a scholarship from the Kiwanis Club which greatly helped pay for college. I joined the Kiwanis Club and paid it forward. I co-chaired a golf tournament to raise funds for scholarships, co-chaired the holiday basket program for families in need, amongst other club activities. Helping others is part of who I am. Donating my hair is another way I can help others.

FFLB: What organizations are you donating your hair to and why?

Rosie: I am donating my hair to “Children with hair loss” who provides wigs to children experiencing hair loss for various medical conditions to include cancer. I want to help put a smile on a child’s face.

FFLB: How does donating your hair honor other Living Beauties and their cancer journeys?

Rosie: Other Living Beauty’s who experienced hair loss have shared how important having a wig(s) is for their journey. By donating my hair, I am honoring my friend and the women of Living Beauty by showing them that we can support one another in different ways.

FFLB: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Rosie: I hope that this is just one of many other ways that I make my dash count (referencing the dash quote from the movie “Where Hope Grows”) and that I continue to live a life with purpose.

a knife shown cutting into a sweet potato on a cutting board

Healthy and Delicious Fall Foods

Healthy and Delicious Fall Foods

By Elaine Bryan, Body and Soul Nourishment

Fall Gently into the Autumn season with healthy nourishing foods!

Eating seasonally with foods that are grown in your area and available, helps keep us all attuned to the Earth and the beautiful cycles of nature. These foods that can be grown in our own garden, or from a local farmer (CSA) delivery or farmers market, help us potentially in consuming fresher plant foods, with less chemicals or need to store and ship those foods. We can connect to nature and be more in tune with our body cycles during the seasons this way.

As summer starts to wind down, the days are becoming shorter and nights tend to be a little cooler. In Chinese medicine, they call the summer the yang season which is now moving towards the dryer Yin season. This is known to be a time for hydrating, cleansing from the yang season, and taking time to nurture our bodies and minds from the active summer activities. In Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old healing practice, this fall season is more dry, and airy, known as the Vata season and tends to be more balanced with a grounding, more moist type of eating style. In these Traditional systems of medicine such as Chinese and Ayurveda practices, this autumn season is a time for slowing down from the summer and letting go of anything that is not needed as we move into the winter season. This is a time of harvesting, and we are provided with mostly an abundance of nourishing foods.

This could mean moving from the cooling raw food dishes and foods from the summer like ice cream, summer cocktails, BBQ foods….to more cleansing, warmer, possibly cooked and nutrient-dense foods.

During these months, we tend to crave those warmer, dense foods that are full of complex carbohydrates such as soups, heartier grains, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables as we tend to move away from those raw fruits and vegetables a bit overall. OR sometimes those raw vegetables can be warmed up some by placing some roasted veggies or grains along with the raw vegetables to warm them up for the digestive system as well.

We don’t have to give anything up and can still emphasize those whole foods during the autumn months with foods like squashes, acorn, delicata, butternut, pumpkin, grounding veggies like Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and those awesome autumn fruits like apples and pears.

Some ideas to concentrate on as you transition to this beautiful autumn season:

  1. Grab for those root veggies as we start shifting over our focus to grounding foods with those complex carbohydrates during cooler They can be roasted or steamed and you can add them to any soup, stew or in a macro bowl with some hearty grains and a good sauce. It’s best to gravitate to these complex carbohydrates instead of the simple ones like white types of bread, cereals, pastas…There are many options for fresh veggies in season with all their phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which are great during this season (and always!)
  2. This is a time for slowing down and letting go – This will help the body “cleanse” from some of the heavy sugary foods from the summer and move into those foods that support the natural detoxification process with the nutrients in apples, pears, beets, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, leeks, radishes including daikon, and carrots to name a They have tons of fiber that support our digestive health and produce those “post biotics” that reduce inflammation, minerals like magnesium and potassium and those antioxidants to help fight illness and disease. These foods not only help reduce that oxidative stress and inflammation, but can also help with seasonal allergies, asthma and in general, cold and viruses as well!
  3. Consume more healthy fats to combat dry and itchy skin during this Our skin could use more natural moisture from using healthy fats and oils such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil as well as raw nuts and seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and avocados….All those plant foods you consume during this season are loaded with Vitamin C such as berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens including collard greens, swiss chard….which also helps to support the skin. And drink your water!
  4. All those warming spices! Start by adding some fresh ginger, turmeric, garlic, cumin and cumin seeds, cayenne powder, red chili flakes, cinnamon, cloves…to your We use quite a few of those awesome spices in a lot of our traditional autumn/winter dishes, so enjoy as they also help reduce inflammation, improve your digestion, can help curb appetite and just your overall health! And they make our food taste so yummy! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Oat Pizza Crust

2 Sweet potatoes, Cooked whatever way you want to cook them! Pierce the skin first and cook!

2 cups oat flour (Sprouts…)

Any spices you want – Maybe a teaspoon basil, oregano, garlic salt, ½ teaspoon sea salt…

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a bowl, scrape the inside out of the cooked sweet potatoes, add the oat flour and spices. Mix together – I use my hands to knead it all together just like dough!
  3. Split dough in two and put on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Roll or press out into two different pizza crusts. I put a piece of parchment paper over the dough and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat circle.
  4. Bake in oven for about 15 mins. Take out and add toppings and vegan cheese or whatever you want to add on, then put back in oven to reheat and melt “cheese” Enjoy!        You can save them and reheat for leftovers.

Learn more about Body and Soul Nourishment by visiting www.bodyandsoulnourishment.com!

a woman with gray hair wearing glasses hugging a woman in a pink sweater whose face cannot be seen

Meet Living Beauty Marion!

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! We asked our Living Beauty Marion to share her experience with metastatic ovarian cancer and how The Foundation for Living Beauty has helped her on her journey. Marion was diagnosed in 2006 with ovarian cancer and was given six months to live. She beat the initial cancer, but it returned again in 2009 with another terminal diagnosis. With her wonderfully supportive husband Moshe by her side, she refused to give up and she has been the epitome of a warrior ever since. Marion has been an active part of Living Beauty since 2015, attending workshops and programs as often as she can and becoming a beautiful light for all her Living Beauty sisters as she supports them on their journeys as well. Keep reading to hear Marion’s experience with Living Beauty!

“The Foundation for Living Beauty is the wind beneath my wings as I navigate living with metastatic ovarian cancer.

Through creative and well thought out thematic programming Living Beauty has provided me with a safe place to gather and bond with other cancer survivors as we learn and grow together through a wide variety of presenters and modalities. Body, mind and soul. The tools I have collected from attending these events have helped me develop healthy habits in exercise through yoga, chi gong and meditation. Through a wide variety of cooking classes and instructors I have learned simple easy ways to prepare healthy and tasty meals that have kept me strong.

A wide variety of healing modalities such as reiki, energy, sound baths, meditation and tapping techniques, just to name a few, have helped me build a healthy support network of practitioners and provided numerous tools to apply on my own. Through Living Beauty’s events I have developed healthy habits and practices such as focusing on gratitude, being present in the moment and finding meditative and calming creative outlets to cope with stressful moments or negative physical events. For example, during a recent hospitalization I used the Resilience Tool Kit to control my pain and anxiety. I did meditative walks around the ward floor repeating calming mantras and prayers as I walked off the pain. I used Y4C, yoga4cancer, stretches and poses to reduce stress and feel in control of the situation. All tools I picked up from attending Living Beauty events. I also stayed in touch with fellow Living Beauties who made me laugh and cheered me up. The friendships and bonds I have formed with other Beauties are powerful, uplifting, and forever.

The Foundation for Living Beauty has really kept me sane and forging forward through covid times as it’s kept me connected with others through zoom events and kept me stimulated, engaged, learning, growing and moving forward. When my husband sees my spirits or energy start to dip he always says ‘Time to sign up for a Living Beauties zoom!’ He’s right! Their magic works every time.

I am forever grateful to Living Beauty, their team, the board members, and the amazing programming that keeps me coming back for more. Thank you for helping me spread my wings and helping me ‘fly’ through many of the toughest times in my life. Forever Grateful.”

The Foundation for Living Beauty provides wellness and support services to women with any type of cancer and who are at any point in their cancer journey. If you are interested in becoming a Living Beauty or would like to learn more about how to support the foundation, please visit www.livingbeauty.org.

a glass filled with ice, mint and watermelon set on a cutting board with watermelon slices in the background

Self-Care in the Summer

Self-Care in the Summer

It is summertime!  The sun is shining, summer flowers are blooming, and we are slowly beginning to emerge from the hibernation created by the pandemic.  Summer is a time of relaxing and restoring our souls.  We often forget to care for ourselves in our efforts to care for others.  So here is your gentle reminder.  If we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t care for the people who depend on us.  Put yourself first and use some of these self-care tips to rejuvenate your body.

Get a little sun.  Most of us are short on vitamin D, which helps protect our bones and immune system, and protects us against cancer cell growth.  Ten minutes in the sun each day can help boost your vitamin D to healthier levels.  Foods like salmon, mushrooms, orange juice and oatmeal are also high in Vitamin D.

But not too much sun!  Sunburn can cause skin cancer.  If you are going to spend time in the sun, there are lots of healthy sunscreen products available, like Sun Guardian from Odacite, and Sunproof Intensive lip balm from Thrive Causemetics.  If you do get a little too much sun, you can soothe your skin with Skin Food from Weleda.

Let’s go barefoot!  Our bodies absorb radiation from many sources each day.  Health experts tell us that ten minutes barefoot outdoors every day helps ground our bodies and has a number of health benefits, as well as reducing stress, helping with depression and aiding in sleep.  The best place to walk?  The beach.  You can get your ten minutes of vitamin D and help your body at the same time!

Water, water, water.  Water helps hydrate your body during a season when dehydration is more prevalent.  For a different refreshment, infuse your water with fresh fruits, cucumbers or mint.  Lots of bottles have marks on the side to help remind you to keep drinking.  The health benefits of water?  Increased hydration equals better brain function, more energy, more youthful skin and aids in weight loss.  So set that diet soda aside and have a fruit-flavored water instead!

Eat more fruit!  So many of the summer fruits are healthy and delicious.  Some of the summer fruits to enjoy include blackberries, cherries, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries and peaches.  Enjoy them in a salad, in your infuser or on their own!  Most markets and farmer’s markets offer organic fruits.

Rest and relaxation.  We all work hard.  Summer is a time for relaxation and restoration.  Take a day off and go to the beach, or the park.  Read that book you have been putting aside.  Pamper yourself.

Celebrate your life.  Take a few minutes in the morning to write down the things for which you are grateful.  Take a yoga class.  Try meditating outside, in nature.  Listen to music.  Hang out with a friend.  Remember that you are the most important, and that caring for yourself enables you to care for others.  You can also serve as a role model for self-care and its importance to our health and wellbeing.

a woman in black looking at a large planter of green leaves

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet/Butternut Squash Soup

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet/Butternut Squash Soup
By Elaine Bryan

While there are many different styles of eating these days, as there has always been, research continues to validate the many health benefits of eating more plant-based.  And quite a few of us don’t even realize that the foods we eat often have more of an impact on our health than anything else in our lives.  Even over physical activity, managing stress, adequate sleep, social connectedness – because food also impacts all of those areas as well!  And each bite we eat moves us more towards health or disease – It’s all our choice.

What does plant-based even mean?  Dr. Colin Campbell, author of the book “The China Study” emphasizes this: “Nutrition must be wholistic: looking at countless nutrients and mechanisms that control many diseases”.  Over years of experience and research, it has been found that plant foods contain nutrients in the healthiest ratio (except B12 and D) for the human body.  Instead of focusing on individual nutrients, a whole food plant-based diet emphasizes the symphony of nutrient composition that has been proven to be optimal for human health.

For this reason, it has been said that a whole food plant-based dietary lifestyle then maximizes the intake of whole, plant foods and minimizes the intake of processed and animal-derived foods.  The diet lifestyle is centered around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, (legumes), herbs, spices, and nuts and seeds.

The benefits have been shown to be many and include a meta-analysis study done in 2017 at Imperial College in London.  This study looked at populations worldwide and included up to 2 million people and diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and more.  It analyzed over 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake and found the greatest benefit came from eating the equivalent of about 10 portions daily.  In the research, which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the team estimated approximately 7.8 million premature deaths could be potentially prevented every YEAR if people ate 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day!

This is significant information to know!

It makes sense because the plant-based benefits include many such as reducing chronic inflammation, decrease in cancer risk and slowing the progression of certain cancers, cardiovascular benefits, improvement in immune function, improvement in diabetes and blood sugar management, increase in energy, sleep, mood and mental clarity and much more.

It has been shown that anti-cancer molecules in certain plant foods can be used to create an environment that is hostile to tumors.  This daily intake of these incredible plant foods can then assist in creating the defense mechanisms and environment that can be more protective in the body overall.

One of the plant foods that is beneficial and widely available during the fall/winter and holiday season is squash.  One of the favorites is butternut squash and it can be used to make a warming, satisfying soup or even roasted and stuffed with kale, mushrooms including immune-boosting shitake mushrooms, garlic and onions, some nuts, and quinoa.  All with their own protective, beneficial plant molecules.

Butternut squash itself contains a substance called beta-cryptoxanthin that has been repeatedly found to lower the risk of lung cancer. By eating foods such as butternut squash, it has been estimated that the risk of lung cancer can decrease between 15-40%.  It has also been shown that taking supplements of these plant chemicals or phytochemicals (nutrients) that are in astounding numbers in these plant foods does not have the same effect as eating the plant in whole food and may even increase health risks.  Beta-cryptoxanthin can also be found in tangerines, persimmons, and spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika, and chili powder.

The butternut squash also has protective lutein and zeaxanthin that is found in yellow fruits and vegetables and can protect your eyes, and the beta carotene in these plants such as squash are beneficial for heart health as well as supporting the immune system. See below for a Curried Butternut Squash Soup that will help keep you warm and nourished this season!

Beta carotene has also been shown to promote communication between cells, which has been shown to quell the growth of cancer cells, according to a 2020 article in the journal Food Science and Nutrition.

Making these plant foods in a large variety of different colors every day into your diet lifestyle a huge win!

For more information about Elaine Bryan, and for even more yummy and nutritious recipes and tips, visit http://www.bodyandsoulnourishment.com/.


Curried Butternut Squash soup

2-3 Tbsp coconut oil or veggie broth, or Avocado oil spray

¾ cup onions or chopped leeks

1 teaspoon minced garlic

½-1 tsp curry powder

3 cups of vegetable broth

2-3 cups of filtered water

1 can of full fat coconut milk

1 medium-sized butternut squash (peeled and diced into 1-2 inch pieces)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

 

Heat the oil, vegetable broth or use avocado spray in a saucepan and add the chopped onion/leeks, garlic and the curry powder (if desired).

Saute a few minutes until onion and garlic are fragrant.

Add in the cubed butternut squash, the vegetable broth and the filtered water to get to the consistency desired.

Note:  You can roast the butternut squash first if desired and then add to the soup and cook less time as the squash will already be cooked.

Cover and simmer until the squash is softened which will be about 20-25 minutes.

If you like the soup somewhat chunky, you can use a masher to mash the ingredients up, or use an immersion blender to blend, or transfer carefully to a high speed blender to blend together until smooth.

Transfer back to pot and add the thyme, salt and pepper, and optional nutritional yeast.  Remove from the heat and add the coconut milk.  Stir and serve!