Five Pillars Yoga

Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Beet Pesto

Summer produce brings to mind juicy heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet fruits & an over supply of summer squash (aka zucchini). It’s easy to forget that early summer in the North East (and everywhere else with 4 seasons) offers an abundance of roots and greens rather than quintessential summer crops. Roots and greens are ideal foods for detoxing from the sluggishness and stagnation that can build up during winter and spring.

While roasted veggies may feel like a dish designed for the colder months, this roasted beet pesto is the perfect summer delicacy — it is both light and soothing on a hot summer day. Plus it aids digestion and adds a beautiful color to any party spread.

What makes beet pesto a superfood?

Quartered Chioggia Beets

Lowers your blood pressure

Prevents cancer & fights inflammation

Chalk full of fiber aiding digestive health

Boosts immune system with natural antibiotic properties

Essential fats for brain power

A naturally sweet and delicious seasonal delicacy

Ready to get started?


  • – 2 cups roasted beets or approximately 3-4 medium-sized raw beets for roasting
  • – 1 tbs. walnut oil for roasting the beets (or any other high heat oil)
  • – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • – 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts
  • – 1 tsp. salt
  • – 3/4 cup parmasan
  • – 2-4 cloves garlic (for your taste preference)
  • – 1 tbs. nutritional yeast
  • – 2 tbs. lemon juice or 1 tbs. apple cider vinegar


  • Option 1: Wash and peel the beets; cube them; & lightly coat them in walnut oil. Roast the beets at 375° for 40-50 minutes on a baking sheet uncovered. Allow beets to cool.
  • Option 2: Scrub the beets and roast them whole in a pyrex glass pan covered in aluminum foil at 375° for 60-80 minutes. Allow beets to cool. Then, peel the skin away from the beet meat.
  • Add roasted beets, roasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, olive oil, nutritional yeast & lemon juice to a food processor. Pulse until you reach your desired texture (feel free to keep the pesto a little bit coarse or mix thoroughly for a smooth texture).
  • Enjoy on homemade pizza, tartines, sandwiches or wraps, or use as a delicious veggie dip!

Our Top Four Tips For Spring Cleaning

Early Spring invites a wave of new crops to the Farmers’ Markets. Roots, peas, greens and strawberries will slowly begin to make their way into the city and onto our plates, supporting our bodies’ natural detoxification processes.

It is common to feel sluggish and a little bit stagnant at the end of the cold winter months. Just like plants and animals, we also go through natural cycles that reflect seasonal variations in weather patterns and sunlight.

At the beginning of spring, you may find that your body is naturally craving lighter and fresher fare, rather than the rich stews and heavier meals that supported you through winter. When the cravings for wholesome foods begin, do not hesitate to listen- you will not only support your body’s physical health but your mental health as well.

Discover our top four easy breezy tricks for spring cleaning- inside and out!

1) Spring Clean Your Pantry and Refrigerator

Have you heard of the saying that structure implies behavior? The way we set up our kitchen  and the food we keep in our pantries and refrigerators determines what and how we will eat. Take some time to go through your food stash and replace processed, sugar-loaded items with fresh, healthier alternatives.

Consider this simple trick: When you go to the grocery store, begin your shop on the outer periphery of the store, starting with the produce section. You will avoid the colorful temptations of the packaged goods in the center isles.

2) Get Inspired With a Meal Plan

Another way to create heathy behavior is to create a delicious (and doable) meal plan. Take a moment to consider the foods and meals that help your body to thrive. Brainstorm a list of your favorite breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. For inspiration, peruse healthy food blogs and your favorite cookbooks. Consider the influx of spring produce and try to incorporate as much seasonal, fresh (and maybe even local) food as possible.

Tip: Keep your meals simple and fresh to start. Make it easy to follow your meal plan. If you are successful with your first week of meal planning, you are more likely to continue with your healthy habits.

3) Get Your Sweetness From Love Not Sugar

Sugar has made its way into every meal, not to mention drinks and snacks. As a nation, we have such a powerful sweet tooth that companies now add sugar (or corn syrup) to salad dressings, sushi, condiments, soups, sauces, smoothies, yogurts, crackers, breads, and so much more. Our food industry understands the addictive powers of sugar, and they use it so we will crave more and buy more. Read labels, avoid processed foods and cook at home as much as possible, so sugar doesn’t sneak its way onto your plate unconsciously.

So why does this matter? Eating processed foods and sugar spikes our blood sugar levels to unhealthy levels, causing our bodies to quickly respond by releasing the hormone insulin. After spiking in an energetic high, a blood sugar crash with quickly follow. When we repeat this cycle, we can develop insulin resistance and eventually, type-2 diabetes. Beyond wreaking havoc on our hormonal systems and metabolism, our bodies store excess sugar as fat, leading to unwanted and unnecessary weight gain.

Tip: Cut out sugary beverages and you are half-way there. Consider saving your sugar quota for a delicious and satisfying dessert that you share with your loved ones. And enjoy your sweets with some healthy fat, which helps to slow blood sugar spikes.

4) Green Is The New Black

How much green can you fit into your day? Green smoothies, green salads, sautéed greens, stir fries, soups, and even green (kale) chips not only taste delicious when prepared with care, but they support every system within your body, providing essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

We understand that it is so easy to go through your life and skip the greens. When life gets busy, home cooking is stressful and preparing greens can feel like too much work. After all, lettuce and spinach are not designed to fill you up, and this makes them easy to skip.

Tip: Add greens to your meal plan and shopping list, and prepare ahead of time to ensure you treat your body and mind with an abundance of plant-based foods that help you to thrive.

* healthy refrigerator image taken from

Our Top 3 Ways To Reverse Stress

Behind chronic fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance, and poor eating habits lies a stealthy and swift imposter: stress. We hear so much about the destructive shape changer we call stress these days, it has become a part of daily conversation.

Why am I suddenly craving sugar?

You must be stressed.

Why did you say that?

Oh, I’m stressed.

Why do I feel so tired all the time?

You’re probably stressed.

How are you feeling?


We all seem to nod our heads in understanding when someone shares they are stressed. “Stressed out” is one of the few negative states we openly share, yet it masks the array of emotions that may be arising in response to challenging situations. So… What exactly is stress?

According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS): The term “stress,” as it is currently used, was first defined by Hans Selye in 1936 as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.”

In simpler terms: Stress is our body’s resistance to change. Since constant change is one of the only guarantees in life, it’s no wonder we are all stressed!

Despite this initial definition, stress quickly became an all encompassing term laden with confusion. In fact, AIS quotes one physician in a 1951 issue of the British Medical Journal reporting that, “Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.”

The origin of Hans Selye’s term “stress” was coined in a lab that tested stimuli on animals. Style observed that animals subjected to “noxious physical and emotional stimuli” such as extreme temperatures, sounds, light, and frustration all developed physiological changes. These poor animals suffered. And their adrenals swelled, the tissues in their lymph systems shrunk, and their stomachs developed ulcers. And that’s not all. Over time, these animals developed the same diseases humans experience today: heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Yikes. (source: AIS)

These studies shifted the dialogue about the source of disease. Whereas before illness and disease was linked to pathogens, stress was now identified as a potential underlying cause, quickly shifting the disease paradigm.

In response to the mass confusion about the word “stress,” the term has been reworked and debated over time. Adopted by the modern medical community, WebMD now has a working definition: “Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations — whether they’re real or perceived.”

As modern life becomes more complex and we move further away from living in harmony with nature, we tend to experience more mental threats than physical threats. Our critical and judgmental minds are growing more powerful in this relatively new environment. We experience more psychological and emotional stress today than ever before. Stress has quickly become habitual, even addictive. And our bodies do not know how to handle this new way of living.

Our bodies release cortisol when there is a real or perceived threat in our environment. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” made in the adrenal glands responsible for our fight or flight or freeze response system. Whereas cortisol may have saved our lives when we lived more connected to our animal natures, this stress hormone is now pulsing through our bodies on a daily basis, causing fatigue and anxiety in the short term, and adrenal burnout (among other diseases) in the long run.

So when we catch ourselves saying “I’m stressed out” or a friend points out with compassion “you seem so stressed out,” perhaps we will better understand the implications of what is being said. Rather than stop there, we can take positive action in our lives to reverse this stress and restore equilibrium in our bodies and our minds. We can make these changes and practice as though our life depends on it- because it does!

Our Top Three Ways To Reverse Stress and Balance the Adrenals

  • 1. Relax With Yoga

It is no surprise that yoga is at the top of our list to reverse stress and balance the adrenals. Deep breathing, focusing the mind, tuning into the physical body, and connecting with spirit are all aspects of yoga that promote well-being and dissolve unproductive stress. Plus, yoga ripples out into everything we do preventing and reversing an accumulation of stress and adrenal burnout, cultivating calm and peaceful minds on and off the mat! Our recommendations? If you are feeling overwhelmed and worn out, try restorative or therapeutic yoga. Feeling down and out? Heat up the body and pick up your energy with a flowing vinyasa yoga class or Ashtanga based vinyasa.

  • 2. Nourish Yourself

Yoga and nutrition go hand-in-hand, working together to promote well-being and inner peace. Did you know that you could ward off approximately 60% of unproductive stress in the human body with nutritional support? The Standard American Diet (SAD) creates so much imbalance and unnecessary stress in our bodies, adding to the loads we already carry. Ready to reverse this unnecessary stress and balance your system? Check out these Five Pillars Right Nutrition articles to discover a new way of nourishing yourself that will not disappoint: More is More, The Pleasure of Eating, A Different Kind of Detox, Top 5 Summer Superfoods, and The Five Pillars of Water.

  • 3. Support and Balance Your Whole System with Adaptogenic Herbs

True to their name, adaptogenic herbs help our bodies to adapt. They restore balance in our bodies. Their name comes from their ability to adapt to their surroundings. And they do the same thing for our bodies. Adaptogens help our bodies to adapt and adjust when we are faced with new environments, change & stress.

What’s amazing about these herbs is they have the capacity to restore balance regardless of where we begin. They have been likened to a thermostat for wellness in the body. Regardless of whether you are too hot or too cold, too up or too down, too dry or too oily, these adaptogens will help to bring you back to your ideal, stable state of being.

Humans have been using adaptogenic herbs to alleviate stress, inflammation & disease for thousands of years. They are central to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Adaptogenic herbs include plants such as Ginseng, Licorice Root, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus),  and Rhodiola rosea. These non-toxic herbs are non-specific in that they do not alleviate specific symptoms in the body, but instead strengthen the body’s capacity to respond to stress. They are incredible energy boosters and stabilizers.

To learn more about benefits and dosage of each adaptogenic herb, click here.

#GoDeeper with Dr. Frank Lipman.

The 4 Surprising Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Do you notice that your energy is low during long winter months and high during warm summer months? Do you tend to get sick or feel low when the sun disappears?

If your answer is yes, you may be experiencing a vitamin D deficiency. Other symptoms of deficiency include weak bones, skin problems, depression, autoimmune disease, and a foggy brain. If you experience any of these symptoms, you are not alone. Vitamin D deficiencies are common, especially among those of us living in the northernmost regions of the world spending the majority of our time indoors under artificial lighting. Other factors that increase the risk of deficiency include weight loss medications, steroids and low-fat diets.

As you may know, the biggest source of vitamin D is direct sunlight. We tend to associate vitamins with diet and supplements, but most foods are surprisingly low in vitamin D, especially plant-based foods. Vitamin D is more than just a nutrient we consume. It is a hormone our bodies synthesize from food and sunlight that impacts the immune system and our hormonal balance. 

So do not be tricked by its name… Vitamin D is not just a vitamin that you can get by eating a healthy, plant-based diet. Getting enough of this super-nutrient is important. As with anything, we don’t need to get swept away with the hype. Instead, we can educate ourselves about how to get enough and why it is important, so we can stay healthy.

To learn more about the preventative benefits and best sources of vitamin D, read on!

The 4 Surprising Health Benefits of Vitamin D:

1. Vitamin D helps to manage weight

A study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Prague in 2015 suggests that taking a vitamin D supplement may help people with an unhealthy weight to lose weight more rapidly than those who do not take a vitamin D supplement. Read more: Click here.

2. Vitamin D prevents cancer, particularly breast, prostate and colon cancer

Of 63 observational studies of vitamin D in relation to cancer risk, the majority discovered that vitamin D acts as a preventative measure. Read more: Click here.

3. Vitamin D keeps your bones strong

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, keeping the bones strong. A study found in the US National Library of Medicine by Peter R Ebeling suggests that vitamin D intake coupled with calcium intake creates optimal bone health, preventing bone loss and fractures. According to Ebeling, rates of hip fractures peak during winter months, suggesting seasonal variation of vitamin D deficiency may strongly affect bone health. Read more: Click here.

4. Vitamin D prevents heart disease and diabetes

According to several studies, increased vitamin D intake lowers blood pressure and helps to regulate insulin. According a study reported by Harvard School of Public Health, men who were deficient in vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who had adequate levels of vitamin D. Read more: Click here.

So what do we do to make sure we are getting enough vitamin D? 

Meeting the RDA of 200-600 IU/day for most adults requires daily meals centered around fish, eggs and fortified foods or a healthy dose of sunlight and/or supplements if you do not eat animal products. And recent research that highlights the importance of vitamin D for long-term health compelled Dr. Andrew Weil to increase his daily recommendation to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day! With this increased recommendation, how do we get enough?


With the seasons changing, we can get some vitamin D from the sun without risking the dangers of skin cancer. WebMD and Holick, the author of UV Advantage, have some simple and doable suggestions.

“Let’s say you’re on Cape Cod or a New Jersey beach in the summer,” Holick tells WebMD. “Just five to ten minutes in the sun two to three times a week — exposing your hands, legs, and arms — is more than adequate to satisfy your vitamin D requirements, and you’re not likely to significantly increase your risk of skin cancer in the process. Then after that five to ten minutes of exposure, put on a sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater for the rest of your time in the sun.” – Read more: click here.


Learn more from Dr. Axe: Click here.


You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements or focusing on your diet. 

Dr. Axe’s infographic shows that consuming fish, milk and eggs can help you meet your needs. If you follow a plant-based diet, getting enough vitamin D from food may be next to impossible. So if you are not into eating fish, eggs and dairy on a daily basis, you may want to consider taking a supplement, especially when you are not able to spend time in direct sunlight.

Vitamin D is proving to be a super nutrient that impacts the ability to absorb calcium, our nervous systems, our cardiovascular systems, our structural and muscular systems, and more. When we are experiencing a deficiency, we may be more susceptible to the common cold at first, but a deficiency can progress into life-threatening illness. So let’s get on the prevention train today! To learn more about Right Nutrition, consider attending Stacy Leung’s upcoming FREE talk. To learn more, click here.



Wednesday May 10th 6:30-8pm

Click here to reserve your free spot