Breaking Free of Patterns

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Our lives are a series of patterns. Everything in nature goes through life in patterns, including humans. When we encounter obstacles, we have to learn to adapt to our new reality, or maneuver around it to continue to progress.

I have a really colorful past. I come from a very conservative christian background in a very small town in west Texas. I grew up believing untrue stories about magic beings in the sky that watched and judged my every move. I also grew up accepting sexism, racism, and classism as normal. Yet I had no idea, nor did my peers/relatives, that we were actually living in this strange reality. Most of the people from my past are still stuck there, but I have (thankfully) expanded my world view and understanding of different schools of thought. I can still recall some comments I made when I was growing up…slurs that were tossed around like standard adverbs. I had no idea who I was or how I was representing myself and my community. It’s painful to look back and remember the person I was before, but it’s also inspiring to know how far I’ve come.

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I know I’ve always struggled with feelings of unworthiness. I constantly tried to find love and acceptance by putting on a new mask in every crowd I surrounded myself with. I slept with people out of sheer craving for connection. I didn’t know who I was, I just knew who I thought everyone wanted me to be. This included everything from language I used, to clothes I wore, and even art I appreciated. It wasn’t until I was entering my mid twenties that I actually started getting a handle on who Brittany REALLY was.

I started experimenting with different substances to alter my perception, though I can’t fully attribute all my life changes to them. They were an important part of my growth on my path, though. I remember feeling like I had so many “a-ha!” moments and knowing such clarity around what I was understanding in those moments. I did my best to integrate the “downloads” I had received and worked on improving the areas that exposed themselves to me while I was under the influence.

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Eventually I found myself in the midst of heartbreak, defeat, and hopelessness – as is the case for many people. Hating my job, not caring for my body, and caught up in a whirlwind of useless connections with toxic people. Something had to change. I started reading books on philosophy, spirituality, self improvement etc. and ultimately signed up for yoga teacher training. During my 200hr training I had my world ROCKED. We were diving so deep into yogic philosophy and how it relates to the world around us all. I quickly learned that there was more to yoga than just stretching or exercise. This was a whole practice based around being mindful on your mat, so that you could bring that same mindfulness out into the rest of the world. Practicing things like compassion, patience, understanding, and acceptance are what always shows up for me on my yoga mat. The practice was some sort of salvation that I didn’t even know I was searching for. It drew me in and changed my life. From the fire that was lit inside me through yoga, my whole world went ablaze. I started caring more about my relationships, most importantly the one with myself – internally and externally. I started wanting to pursue a life of freedom, contentment, and happiness. Anything that didn’t allow for me to feel inspired and happy was immediately cut out of my life. I didn’t have time for anything that wasn’t serving my greater good. I was starting to gather momentum! I began surrounding myself with people who were knowledgable about movement, nutrition, and healthy life practices. I kept getting serious downloads from people I admired, read a bunch of books, journaled my heart out, and kept putting myself in uncomfortable situations that forced me to grow. All of a sudden I had ROOTS. I had security in who and how I was. I found love in my community, my relationships, and within myself. I thought this place was something that everyone else talked about but that I’d never experience…until I did. It lasted for a while, feelings of being inspired…like I was learning life all over again…but eventually, the patterns kept repeating themselves. I found myself in a loop. I was still progressing in minor ways, but I could feel that change was necessary and crucial to my continued development.

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Fast forward, and now I live in Denver. A whole new world! I was introduced to a new line of work that kept my pockets comfortable and allowed me to indulge in my favorite foods and activities. I was spending time with people who were fun and with whom I had enough in common to have a good time. We had great conversations about oneness and love and positivity. I felt inspired again by people and all that they had accomplished. This lasted for about a year before I noticed I was stuck in a loop again. I was having the same conversations with the same people…doing the same things…feeling greatly uninspired by the lack of progress I was witnessing all around me, and also within myself. Words are only a small part of progress…action is what I was looking for. I started trying to align myself with people and places that were more on the page I was hoping to be on. I wanted to be more active, I wanted to be doing what I loved and not just what was easy, I wanted to keep GROWING without feeling held back. So, on I went.

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Today, and for the past month, I have found myself in Costa Rica. I’m cooking regularly for yoga and wellness retreats. I am in bed early, and awake before the sun. I’m nourishing my body with nutritious foods and movement, I’m nourishing my mind with stimulating conversations and enlightening books, and I’m making connections with people who are inspiring me to do better…to BE better. Constantly. This is all that I could have ever hoped for when I first started my journey to become the best version of myself that I could be. Am I done? No. Am I still growing and progressing? FUCK yes! I’m learning so much about myself here and being challenged in ways I didn’t think were possible even just one year ago. I’ve broken free of another cycle of unhelpful patterns and relationships and feel like I’ve leveled up again. I can’t begin to imagine what life will look like in a year from now, but if I’ve found my way this far…I’m sure what’s in store is going to be exactly what I need.

I share this story because I hope to inspire people to keep moving forward. To keep following their hearts. To keep pushing through uncomfortable change until you find yourself in exactly the place you want to be. Recognize patterns, question everything, and keep trying to do better. There’s beauty in being content, and a balance between  that contentment and the desire to constantly improve. You’ve got this!

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How To Deal With Stress This Holiday Season

The holidays are a wonderful time for loved ones to come together. They are intended to remind us how blessed we are to have a community of support and love within reach. It can also be quite the challenge to put into practice all that we’ve learned around mindful living. It sometimes only takes one comment, one word, one look to trigger our emotional body into a place of reactiveness. Growing up in a conservative family from west Texas, it became very hard for me to stay grounded and loving throughout any gathering while being witness to so many things that challenged my current way of living. Many arguments, tears, and uncomfortable conversations later – I’m here to share some practices that have helped me deal with the stress that family gatherings can stir up around the holidays.

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Something that is super important to me in aiding to my stress response is making sure I’m properly nourished and well slept. These two things can play a huge role in how we’re feeling. Stress directly affects the nervous system, which, in turn, affects the digestive system among several other things. Getting foods full of B vitamins supports the nervous system and the production of neurotransmitters which are referred to as the body’s chemical messengers. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that can be produced when consuming leafy green veggies containing folate (like spinach), and can aid in keeping you calm, cool and collected. Additionally, you can reach for berries which are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that help fight against stress related free radicals. The antioxidants found in berries can help reduce blood pressure, a significant contributor to stress. Speaking of antioxidants, these magical substances are also found in dark chocolate! Win! Having just a small amount of dark chocolate (not the whole bar) can reduce cortisol in the body in addition to helping regulate blood pressure. CBD is a great stress relief tool that can be applied topically or taken orally. Using CBD can help the brain and body access mood regulating chemicals like serotonin so they can be used more efficiently and return the body to a naturally balanced state. CBD has also been shown to increase the brain’s hippocampus, which can shrink when a person is really anxious, depressed, or stressed.

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Another factor that plays into blood pressure regulation is SLEEP. Getting adequate sleep in general, but especially during the holidays, is crucial. When you aren’t getting the sleep your body needs, stress hormones are produced and a vicious cycle ensues. The more stress hormones that are made by lack of sleep directly contribute to your inability to fall asleep the next night. They continue production into your day with the peak being in the afternoon/early evening when the body should be winding down in preparation for sleep. This can make you irritable and more likely to snap at your loved ones. So do yourself and everyone else a favor, get some sleep.

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If we can find the time and space to ourselves to practice yoga, breathing techniques, and even meditation – they can improve our body’s ability to handle stressful situations. Studies show that even as little as 10 minutes of meditation each day can help decrease anxiety and significantly reduce stress. Other studies have shown both increases and decreases in brain cell volume in different areas, one being a decrease in the amygdala which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and, you guessed it, – STRESS. There are a ton of benefits to getting into a regular meditation routine, and stress control is a key part of that. When we meditate, we are focusing on our breath, mindfulness, and controlling the brain from wandering off to unnecessary thoughts. When we begin to focus on taking deeper fuller breaths, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated and more oxygen flows to the brain. This lowers our blood pressure, slows the heart rate, and puts us in a calmer state. Yoga is a great way to combine both mindful meditation, breath awareness, and movement. All of these things together can create a sensation of calm and relaxation.

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So this holiday season, make sure you and your loved ones are all eating stress-reducing foods, taking deep breaths, getting adequate sleep, and taking some time to practice mindfulness & movement. These will all help everyone relax and enjoy each other’s company, the way the holidays are meant to be spent!

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DIY Collagen-Rich Bone Broth

It’s faaaallllll! I absolutely adore this time of year. We get to start wearing more layers (scarves, beanies, YES) the leaves are changing into beautiful sunset colors, and the light of day is gorgeous at all times. With fall comes the desire to nourish the body. We tend to turn inward when this time of year hits because of weather, length of daylight, and our general inclinations to do so. Fall is a great time to start whipping out the crockpot for hearty soups, chili, and my favorite – BONE BROTH!

I’ve had several requests from a lot of you on posting a comprehensive guide to making bone broth, and I’m finally doing it! So, please follow along if you’d like to know my broth ways <3.

Step 1: Find a good source for your bones

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Quality of ingredients is always of importance no matter what you’re making,  bone broth is no exception! Find a good source of preferably local, grass fed, pasture raised animal bones. On the front range here in Colorado, we use a company called Pasture Provisions for almost all of our animal protein & bones.

Step 2: Blanch the bones

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This step is important and often skipped. Blanching the bones removes any impurities that you will find in your bones. Just add them to a pot of cold water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. You’ll start to notice some gunk floating to the top, you can skim this out as you simmer. This is why we blanch our bones! You don’t want that in your broth. After 20 minutes, drain the water and rinse your bones for step 3.

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^^That’s the junk you don’t want making its way into your broth

Step 3: Roasting your bones

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Once your bones have been properly blanched, the next step is to roast em! Heat your oven to 450 degrees, put your bones on a parchment lined baking sheet (preferably with sides), and roast for about 30 minutes. They will get extra crispy and SUPER flavorful making this step one you do not want to miss! After removing the bones from your oven, add them to the stock pot or crock pot along with any cooked out juices or crumbly bits. On to step 4!

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Step 4: Cooking down the broth

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SO – once your bones are in your pot, you can choose to add flavor enhancing items such as onion, carrots, celery, peppercorn etc. I like to save the garlic/ginger/turmeric for the last couple hours of cooking. You can also choose to not flavor the broth at all. Regardless of what you choose, your next mission is to cover the bones with fresh filtered water. Not too much! Just enough so that they are submerged. They shouldn’t be floating around. You’ll then crank up the heat, bring your broth to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and let it go for as long as you can stand it! Depending on bone size, this time will vary. For bigger thicker beef bones, you can cook the bones for 36-48 hours. For smaller chicken bones, they’ll begin to disintegrate after too much time has passed. So just keep an eye on it. As I said, I like to add extra flavorings in the last hour or so of cooking. At this time I also like to add in my salt and apple cider vinegar. You can add salt to taste but I like about a tablespoon or so and 1-2tsp ACV.

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Step 5: COOLING

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This is another crucial step. You need to cool your broth as quickly and efficiently as possible to prevent any bacteria from infesting your yummy batch of liquid gold. This can be done by straining broth into a shallow wide bowl and throwing in an ice cube or two to help cool the broth quickly. After broth is cooled to a warm temp, you can add it to jars and refrigerate! If you aren’t going to use it right away, you can choose to freeze some. A lot of people also like to add it to ice trays so they can pop out single whenever they’re ready to use them in cooking. I like to sip mine and use it in cooking sometimes. So choose whatever make you tick! As your broth cools, you’ll notice it begins to coagulate and make a jelly-like substance. THIS IS EXCELLENT! This is a sign of good, collagen-rich bone broth. Yummy to our tummy!

So enjoy experimenting with your bone broth! Try out different flavors, try out no flavors, and try different types of bones.

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Gluten Free Peach Crisp

Yesterday, Omar and I went to the Mile High Flea Market to check out the selections of fresh produce and random odds and ends. We came across some really awesome prickly pear, plantains, and PEACHES! Some of them were a little bruised, so I decided I needed to make a crisp/cobbler/dessert. I didn’t find anything that I really wanted to make online, so I just came up with my own recipe. Here’s what you’ll need…

For the crust & crumble topping:

1 stick unsalted butter – melted

1.5C Flour (I used gluten free baking flour, but you can also use almond flour)

1C Walnuts – chopped (I pulsed mine in the food processor)

2/3C Brown sugar

1/2C Rolled oats

1/2C Coconut flakes

1tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Nutmeg

1/4tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 pan for the crisp.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, walnuts, sugar, oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well incorporated. Slowly add melted butter to crumble mixture and stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, leaving some of the crumble for the top of the crisp. Set aside.

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For the Peach Filling:

4 Medium sized peaches

4tbsp Unsalted butter or coconut oil

1tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Nutmeg

2tbsp Honey + a little more to drizzle over top

Slice peaches and remove pit.

Melt 4tbsp butter or oil in pan over medium heat and add sliced peaches, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toss and coat the peaches, then let reduce for about 5 min.

Once peaches have softened and the liquids have started to caramelize, drizzle 2tbsp honey over peach mixture and stir. Add the cooked peaches to the pan on top of the layer of crust. Then add the crumble over top of the peaches. Drizzle with honey and put in preheated oven.

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Bake for 45min-1hr or until the crisp is golden brown. Serve warm with your favorite topping – vanilla ice cream, whipped coconut cream, the choice is yours!

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ENJOY!

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Gluten & Grain Free Sweet Potato Toast!

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I love avocado toast. A lot. I love breakfast sandwiches served open-faced on a delicious slice of bread. My body, however, doesn’t particularly love bread as much as my mouth does. I have tried different gluten free breads here and there, some of them are great compromises, some of them aren’t. BUT – sweet potato?? I think so.

Sweet potatos are one of my favorite foods. Although I’ve significantly decreased my sweet potato consumption from once/day to a few times a month, I’m still a sucker for roasted sweet potatoes. This time, I decided to make 1/4 inch thick slices for a few different varieties of sweet potato toast!

You can literally top these suckers with anything you like, these are just what I happened to make today. 🙂

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You’ll need:

1-2 Large Sweet Potatoes – 1/4in thick, sliced lengthways

3tbsp Avocado Oil

1tsp Sea salt

1 Avocado mashed or sliced

Cream cheese spread – I like to use Kite Hill’s Plain almond “cream cheese”

Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, or sesame seeds – the choice is yours!

Bacon, eggs, greens – again, choose your own adventure!

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375. Brush avocado oil on either side of the sliced potatos and place them on a baking sheet evenly spaced apart, sprinkling the top with a little salt. Bake for 6-8 min before flipping the potato slices over, while they continue to bake for another 6-8 min. You can flip them a few times if you need to, pulling them out when they’re just starting to get some nice brown colored spots on the top.

Once the potatos are done cooking, you can begin to assemble your toast! Today I mad three different slices. One had mashed avocado, hemp seeds, baby kale, and bacon. Another had almond cream cheese, cinnamon, black sesame seeds, and a little drizzle of local honey. The third one was a classic bacon, fried egg, and kale. Other good toppings could be sliced tomato, strawberry, goat cheese, radishes, or bell peppers. Have fun with it!

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Avocado Key Lime Pie – Vegan Options!

Woah you guys. Woah. I found this gem of a recipe while flipping through a magazine and cutting out words/images for my vision board…and I’m SO happy I tried it! This is the perfect summer dessert. Light, creamy, and refreshing. The original recipe calls for spirulina to give it that bright green color, but I used hemp protein and matcha and it still turned out pretty 🙂 I also forgot to put the sesame seeds in my crust, so I used them as decoration instead. SO choose your own adventure! Let me know how it goes!

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You’ll need….

1 C Raw cashews

½ C Raw almonds

½ C Shredded unsweetened coconut plus more for decorating (optional)

¼ tsp sea salt plus more for seasoning

6 dates pitted and roughly chopped

1tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)

1tbsp chia seeds

¾ C canned coconut milk

3tbsp honey (or agave if you’re vegan, but I wouldn’t recommend it from a nutrition standpoint)

1tsp pure vanilla extract

½ large firm avocado

⅓ C fresh lime juice (preferably from key limes) and ½ tsp zest, plus sliced lime for garnish (optional)

¼ tsp spirulina (optional) <–I subbed ¼ tsp matcha and ¼ tsp hemp protein powder

⅔ C plus 4tbsp coconut oil, melted

¼ C very ripe strawberries or raspberries

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  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Rinse.
  2. Add almonds, shredded coconut, ¼ tsp salt and half the dates to a food processor and process until almonds are mostly broken down, about 45 sec. Add remaining dates, chia seeds, 2tbsp coconut oil and the sesame seeds if using, and process another 30-45 sec until mixture is uniform.
  3. Press mixture into the bottom and along the sides of a 6-inch springform or round baking pan, so that the edge of the tart is about 1in higher than the bottom and sides are about ¼ in thick. Place crust in freezer.
  4. In a blender, combine cashews, coconut milk, 2tbsp honey, a pinch of salt, and vanilla. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
  5. Set aside ⅓ C of the mixture. Add avocado, lime juice and zest, spirulina (or hemp/matcha) if using, and remaining tbsp honey to the blender and process until fully incorporated. Add ⅔ C coconut oil and blend. Pour mixture into crust and return to freezer.
  6. Rinse blender and add reserved creamy mixture, remaining 2 tbsp coconut oil, and berries & blend. Place in freezer
  7. After an hour, pop tart out of pan. Transfer pink frosting to a pastry bag or a ziplock plastic bag with corner cut off. Decorate tart with frosting, adding additional coconut and sliced lime if desired. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve and enjoy the same day!

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Gluten Free Hemp Protein Banana Pancakes

I really try to keep my sugar cravings in check, but sometimes you just need a pancake! Usually when I have a couple over ripe bananas, it’s time to bake banana muffins or some banana pancakes! Today, I chose to add hemp protein powder for a little extra oomf. Because let’s be honest, most of us aren’t getting adequate protein (generally speaking).

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So let’s get right to it! This is what you’ll need:

2 ripe bananas

2 eggs

1C gluten free flour

3tbsp coconut oil melted (can use butter if you’d prefer)

1tbsp hemp protein powder (this can easily be removed or substituted for other protein powder)

1tsp vanilla extract

1tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2tsp baking powder

1/4c sugar

1/4c water or milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar and coconut oil. Cream on low as you add in eggs, vanilla, ACV, and water. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture to the bowl. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix until everything is combined.

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To Cook:

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add cooking oil to the hot pan and begin to measure out pancake batter in 1/4C servings. I usually cook two at a time in my medium sized cast iron. Cook on one side until small bubbles start to form around the perimeter of the pancake, then flip! You can alter cook time or temp depending on your stove, but you want a nice golden brown color on either side. Top with whatever you’d like! I usually go for butter and maple syrup. Piece of (pan)cake! Happy cooking ❤

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