Jackie Hitchcock - Experienced Yoga Teacher

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Living Food and Yoga Blog

Living Plant-Based Cuisine & The Yogic Lifestyle

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Connection With Nature - Why it's Essential

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on February 19, 2014 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)
Connection With Nature - Why it's Essential

     In today's hectic world, it can be easy to forget that we are a part of nature's complex system.  We're human animals who require a connection with nature for our well-being.  To experience health, we need time away from our man-made concrete jungle and indoor environment.

     There are a number of health benefits associated with getting outdoors, regardless of whether we are active or not.  Our minds and bodies are refreshed in nature.  Life becomes less hectic and stress eases.  Time spent in nature provides us with more than fresh air, but a time to reflect and heal.  Studies have shown that green spaces encourage mental health.  The sights, sounds and aromas in a natural setting are conducive to a sense of well-being.

     The pace of life seems to slow down in a natural environment.  Blue skies and green foilage relax us and promote healing.  Playful squirrels, rabbits and other animals bring us joy, while bird sounds and babbling brooks calm us.  The sweet and clean smell of forests and meadows return us to our natural state of happiness.

     There are a number of activities that can get us out of our home or office in every season.  Walking and hiking can be replaced with snowshoeing or skiing, simply dress for it!  Even a drive to the country can be beneficial, just be sure to get plenty of fresh air and drive slowly to appreciate the scenery.

     Connection with nature on a regular basis should be a part of every wellness program.  Don't let yourself become overwhelmed with stress before visiting the countryside, use nature as preventative medicine.  Schedule time for yourself to venture out and experience the vibrance of life in the beauty of a natural setting.


Gluten-free, Not Just a Fad

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on February 3, 2014 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Gluten-free, Not Just a Fad

Gluten-free? Maybe you've seen this label on products and wondered what it means, or maybe you scour the aisles in search of it. What exactly is gluten, why are so many people choosing gluten-free and could it just be a new diet craze? We're going to answer those questions!

Gluten is the protein found in most grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, barley and their derivatives. On it's own, gluten (also called seitan), has a rubbery texture and is partially responsible for the elasticity of most baked goods. A gluten-free product may contain alternatives such as; rice, corn, bean, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, tapioca, potato, coconut, almond, quinoa, sorghum, hemp and millet. Some varieties of oats are also gluten-free.

Why do people switch to a gluten-free diet? There's an increasingly large group of people, referred to as Celiac, whose must live a gluten-free lifestyle in order to remain healthy. People with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder, must avoid gluten completely in their diet as well as in personal products. A number of people are also affected by gluten-intolerance, which is a less severe reaction to gluten with varying symptoms. In addition, some people follow a gluten-free diet simply for it's associated health benefits which include weight loss, more energy and a better mood. A link between gluten and neurological/psychiatric problems has been recognized for decades.

Gluten-free awareness and labelling of products has arisen quite quickly due to increased demand. The sudden change to a gluten-free diet by thousands of people may seem like another diet craze, but it's one that's not likely to go away. It's important to recognize that gluten-free living is a must for some people and a healthly choice for others. Gluten-free is not just a fad!

Kundalini and Power Yoga - Vastly Different Yet The Same

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on November 22, 2013 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The practise of Yoga is becoming increasingly popular thanks to it's many physical and emotional health benefits. There are various styles of Yoga being offered at gyms, health clubs, spas and studios around the world. There is a type of Yoga for every person of every ability, it's all about finding your niche!  

Some Yoga styles would appear to be polar opposites, such as Kundalini Yoga and Power Yoga, for example. In reality, all types of Yoga benefit the nervous system and promote a sense of calm. What appears to be vastly different is actually the same. So what are Kundalini and Power Yoga and are either of them for you?  

Kundalini is the most ancient form of Yoga.  This style of Yoga involves spinal flexes, breath-work and is mainly practiced seated. Kundalini benefits the lymphatic system and is excellent for individuals of all abilities. With an emphasis on how you feel, not how you look, many of the exercises can be performed with eyes closed. Kundalini Yoga can help to remove emotional blockages and leave us with a general sense of well-being and purpose.

Power Yoga is a modern fitness-based style of Yoga with it's roots in antiquity. This form of Yoga has become popular with health clubs for it's ability to strengthen, stretch and deliver a great workout. Power Yoga is practiced in a flowing style with emphasis on movement with the breath. Upbeat and engaging, Power Yoga will make you sweat! Poses, exercises and sequences vary from class to class to keep your Yoga practise interesting!  

Just as we may believe that we are very different from another person, much like Kundalini and Power Yoga, we are fundamentally the same! Each of us are unique with different needs, but we all need Yoga, whichever type suits us best. Yoga is for everyone! A wise man once said, "If you can breathe, you can do Yoga." So, what's your style? Have you found it yet?!  



Yoga in Winter, Why You Need It!

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on November 20, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)

Winter is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's time get comfortable and cozy! Unfortunately, for many people, colder temperatures can mean increased aches, pains and stress. Winter may cause us to shrug our shoulders more often and cold weather can reduce blood flow to the muscles, causing them to tighten. The holiday season can be a source of stress for some. If ever there was a time for Yoga, winter is it!

The thought of Yoga can conjure up images of poses on tropical beaches, but the practise of Yoga by a soothing fire or wintery view is priceless! A regular practise is essential to effectively counteract our body's reaction to cold, the tendency to tense up. Winter chill and low light can bring an increase in depression and anxiety. Both mind and body benefit from Yoga asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation during winter. 

For an effective winter practise you'll want to stay warm to help relax your muscles. Trade your flimsy Yoga wear for your favorite comfy sweater, pull on a pair of thick socks and even a scarf. On a visit to Mexico City last winter, I was surprised to see my fellow Yoginis dressed in fashionable woolies! Comfortable clothing can increase our sense of well-being. Keep a shawl or blanket handy for your shoulders and savasana (relaxation), at the end of your practise. Avoid any draughts and practice near a heat source if possible. Candles can create a warm atmosphere and focus. If you're fortunate enough to have a room with a view, practice there! The winter weather can help us appreciate what we have, the warmth and comfort of indoors. Remember to continue to drink plenty of water during the winter months, as it helps to regulate body temperature.

With just a small amount of effort, we can feel as comfortable and relaxed in winter as we can during the summer months, perhaps even more so! Go ahead, bundle up, find an attractive, warm place to roll out your mat and get happy!

Jicama - A Great Source of Carbs for Raw Foodies

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on January 12, 2013 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)

     Jicama - A Great Source of Carbs for Raw Foodies

Jicama is a vine indigenous to Mexico.  The edible portion of Jicama is the root, it also goes by the name of Mexican Yam or Mexican Turnip.  While Jicama may resemble potato, it is much sweeter and not gritty like the potato.  It's sweet flavour comes from it's inulin content, a fructooligosaccharide, which is a prebiotic essential to gut health.

Jicama is most often eaten raw and is a wonderful source of carbohydrates for people on a raw food diet.  It can be sliced thin and used like crackers, into sticks for dipping, or in salads.  You can also get creative and use this root for pasta alternatives.  Jicama is high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium and phosphorus.  If you've never tried Jicama, give it a go!  It has a fresh taste and crisp texture that you're sure to love!


Yerba Mate For Wellness

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on January 10, 2013 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

            Organically Grown Yerba Mate For Wellness

As I sit here enjoying an afternoon cup of Yerba Mate, I thought I might share with you some of it's benefits.

For those of you aren't familiar with Yerba Mate, it's a South American species of Holly which has been consumed for hundreds of years in the form of tea.  Yerba Mate promotes a sense of well-being and naturally increases energy levels.  It is best brewed cold, but hot water can also be added for a comforting warm drink.  

Yerba Mate promotes weight loss and is an appetite suppressant.  It can be used to treat depression and anxiety.  Mate contains antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties.  It lowers blood pressure and contains vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B2.  

The tea is traditionally brewed in a gourd, as pictured here, and sipped through a type of straw called a bombilla.  The mental and physical health benefits of consuming Yerba Mate are many.  Try it for yourself and feel the difference!


Raw Gazpacho Soup - Sans Garlic!

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on September 2, 2012 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been visiting Prince Edward County, Ontario for most of the summer!  Local food is very much a part of the culture here.  Coming into September, the weather is still hot and sunny, there is so much local produce to enjoy!  A cold gazpacho soup was in order today, it turned out so delicious, I made two batches! 

I'm currently working with an individual who doesn't eat garlic due to allergies, so this soup is garlic-free!  As healthy as raw garlic can be, it is often too prevalent in raw food recipes.  I'm sure I'm not alone when I express that secondhand garlic smells, and smelling of garlic myself, is not always desirable!  To each, their own, enjoy this delicious and healthful Garlic-free Raw Gazpacho Soup!

2 celery stocks, diced fine

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 red onion, diced fine

1 cucumber, finely chopped

1 kg ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 T fresh basil, chopped

1/2 tsp gluten-free cayenne pepper

3 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T naturally fermented red wine vinegar

1/2 C cold water

sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together.  Chill for @ 1 hour.  Stir.   Serve with drizzle of olive oil if desire.  Serves 6-8.

Wild Purslane - A Succulent Vegetable

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on September 2, 2012 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

     A friend of mine recently complained of weeds in his tomato garden.  This sounds normal, except that the particular 'weed' he was concerned about is purslane, a delicious vegetable itself!


     Purslane is a member of the family portulacaceae, related to the house plant portulaca.  Common in North America, purslane originates in Southern Europe and is often eaten as a vegetable in areas of the Mediterranean.  The plant is tangy with a succulent and crispy texture. 

     Nutritious purslane has many health benefits, including being a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. It also contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy green vegetable!  

     If you spot purslane in your garden, harvest it!  This important plant should not be considered a weed! 


Birch Syrup As Soy Sauce Alternative

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on August 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (2)

     Asian cuisine is delicious, however, a major component of many Asian recipes is soy sauce.  Soy sauce poses a problem for individuals who are unable to have wheat in their diet.  Many people substitute wheat-free tamari for soy sauce and that is great, but unfortunateIy there are those few who can consume neither wheat nor soy.  

     I have good news for people who avoid both wheat and soy in their diet, birch syrup!  Birch syrup is made in a similar manner to maple syrup, although almost twice as much birch sap is required in the production of the syrup than is maple. Unlike maple syrup, birch syrup is only mildly sweet and has a flavour very similar to soy sauce!  Add a dash of sea salt or wasabi to birch syrup, and I'm not sure that the difference is detectable!  


     Birch syrup is an excellent source of vitamin B1 and manganese.  It is a significant source of vitamin B2, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and calcium, with a trace of vitamin C.  The next time your recipe calls for soy sauce, give natural birch syrup a try!

Creamy Curried Broccoli Soup

Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on May 19, 2012 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (0)

                      Creamy Curried Broccoli Soup

3 C water

1 C almonds, soaked overnight, strained & rinsed

10 dates

2 C broccoli florets

2 avocados

2 garlic cloves

1 bunch green onion

1 tsp sea salt, (optional)

2 tsp curry spices, (A combination of any of the following: black pepper, cumin, mustard seed, cloves, coriander, chili pepper, and/or cardamom). I grind these spices fresh myself to avoid gluten and fillers.  You may want to keep clove to a minimum due to it's stronger flavour. 

Blend the water, dates and almonds until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.  This soup may be eaten immediately in warmed bowls, or chilled.  Add a dash of olive oil and/or tamari if desired.