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I'm Crystal Vaughn

a classically trained chef taking holistic plant-based nutrition on a grand adventure through North America. When I’m not creating in our traveling kitchen, you can usually find me on my yoga mat or a hiking trail.

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Here is part two of my daily routine series where we are diving into the Ayurvedic tradition of Dinacharya.  As we work to bring mindfulness into our daily routine it can be a little tricky to change our habits at first.  I have found the best way to add a new habit is to set up a cue at a specific time of day or attach it to another routine you already do.  If you miss a day, who cares, try again tomorrow.  Don't worry about the times you skip or forget about it a first.  This is natural, just keep trying and if you never seem to be doing it, change the cue or time so it can work into your schedule better.

Last month, I shared about drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning.  (If you missed it, you can read it here!)  How did you guys do?  Have you noticed any positive changes?  If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

This month, we are talking about something that may seem a little weird at first but I'm asking you to keep an open mind.  What if I told you it only takes a few minutes a day and can help your skin look brighter, improve circulation, help shed dead skin, unclog pores, can help breakup cellulite and it helps to purify your lymph system which rids the body of toxins (added bonus: this could help you lose weight).

So what are we talking about? Dry brushing.  It really is pretty darn simple and all you need is a dry brush with natural bristles; avoid synthetic and plastic ones.

The first time I came across dry brushing I was reading about a supermodels beauty tricks in a magazine.  I thought it sounded odd and didn't really give it much thought.  After learning more about the benefits of this Ayurvedic routine I decided to give it a try and it has been part of my self-care ritual fairly consistently over the last 3 or 4 years.

How to:

Step 1: Set yourself up for success by putting your dry brush where you will see it and be reminded to use it before you shower (after a few days, if you aren't noticing it, try a new spot).

Step 2: I recommend stripping down and getting in the shower before you turn the water on so all the dead skin stays in there, instead of on your bathroom floor.

Step 3: Remember to be gentle on sensitive areas such as the breasts and always avoid the face.

Step 4: Use long sweeping motions starting from the feet and moving towards the heart.  I start at my feet and do a fluid movement all the way up to the top of my leg, make my way all the way around and move to the other side, then I move to my arms and brush from my hands to my shoulders all the way around on both sides, then I move to the torso (I skip my belly while pregnant)and use long sweeping strokes up on the front side, then I move to the back, I brush upwards on my bottom and then down my back (a longer handle is nice for this part), lastly, I do my neck and chest, I start right below the chin line and move down towards my heart.

Step 5: Shower!

Step 6: Moisturize with a natural product like coconut oil or your favorite organic lotion (be sure to read the ingredients!).  You are flushing out toxins so it makes no sense to add them right back to your largest (and porous) organ.

I have even continued this practice during my pregnancy.  I use this method to help me when my limbs, especially my legs, feel like they are swelling or like there is stagnant energy in the body.

My challenge to you is to add this to your daily routine for the next month.  If you have questions or give it a try I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below!

Love and self-care,

Crystal

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I have tried making many versions of almond milk but this one is my favorite.  It does take a little planning ahead but I promise it is worth it. 

I could go on and on about this but I will try to keep it simple.  You should always soak your almonds before you make them into milk because of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.  Without getting to sciencey on you I’ll break them down here:

Phytic acid (or phytates) -  bind to minerals in the digestive tract and carry them out without absorption; vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.  Can you see why this would be a problem?  We want to digest those minerals, not waste them!  Phytic acid is also in grains, legumes (beans), other nuts and seeds.  By soaking, we can remove or reduce this pesky anti-nutrient.  Adding a little acid (like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar) to your soaking water helps break down even more phytates.

Enzyme inhibitors – this genius compound that almonds (and other foods) have is quite impressive.  It stops the almond from sprouting prematurely.  Only when the conditions are right will the enzyme inhibitor release and the almond will start to germinate.  What this means for you: the enzyme inhibitor when eaten does not break down the food in our digestive tract so we do not absorb the vitamins and minerals. Once soaked, the availability of the nutrients are increased.

This process only works with raw almonds so make sure they have not been pasteurized.  If they are not raw, soaking does nothing but soften them up for easier blending. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this recipe and technique.  Once you know how to make almond milk the possibilities for nut and seed milks are endless! 

With love,

Crystal

Almond Milk
Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of raw almonds
Water, for soaking
A squeeze of lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar (optional but recommended)
4 cups water
1 or 2 dates, pitted (optional)*
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)*
Pinch of pink Himalayan or sea salt
1 nut milk bag or cheese cloth

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a medium bowl place almonds and enough water to cover them a couple of inches.  Add your squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar to the bowl.  Let soak for 8 to 12 hours. 

2. Drain the almonds after they have soaked.  Rinse two or three times.  

3. Add the almonds to a high speed blender with 4 cups of water, pitted dates, vanilla and salt.**

4.  Start blending on low.  Slowly turn up the blender until the almonds are pulverized and the milk is creamy and frothy.

5. Place the nut milk bag over the container you want to pour your almond milk into.  Slowly pour the almond milk in.

6.  Gently squeeze all of the liquid out of the bag until the pulp is all you have left.

7. Enjoy right away or refrigerate.  Keeps about 4 to 5 days.

Notes: *If you plan on using the almond milk in a savory recipe omit the dates and the vanilla.  **If you plan on saving the almond pulp to make flour, do not add the dates, vanilla or salt (you don't want these items in your flour).  Follow to step 6, rinse out your blender, add the milk back in with the dates, vanilla and salt and blend until creamy and frothy.

 

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After three weeks on the road we made our way to Portland, Maine.  We decided to treat ourselves and rent an apartment for five nights.  

 

We spent time exploring the city, eating delicious food, checking out some local breweries, taking Hudson to the dog park and playing on dog friendly beaches. 

  

It was a nice little break from camp life but to be honest, by the end, I was ready to be back in our traveling home.  I guess our camper and rooftop tent are starting to really feel like home even if the ground beneath it is ever changing. 

 

It always surprises me how quickly I adapt to the life of a “gypsy” traveler.  More quickly than I adapt to being home after my travels (reintegration is so much harder). 

 

This is the first trip I have taken of its kind but definitely not the first time I’ve spent consecutive months traveling.  It is these times when my soul seems to soar.  I feel more like myself in my own body and I am just living. 

 

I know it isn’t easy to give up on the modern conveniences we are used to but there is something freeing about having everything you need (for a little while) traveling on your back or in your car. 

This wonderful world is at your fingertips.  It is there for you to explore.  I believe our time on this planet is a gift and I want to see as much of it as possible. 

This trip is exciting because I am exploring my own backyard… the USA and Canada; as opposed to hopping on a plane to see other countries and cultures. 

I am learning to appreciate the subtle differences in cultures and cuisines through the regions on the continent I grew up on. 

One thing I really missed while we were in Portland was feeling the rhythm of the day.  After only a couple days living inside I was starting to feel out of sync.

 

Now, lets talk a little about food….

 

If you don’t already know this, I love shopping at farmers markets!

It is a great way to eat seasonally and but the freshest produce possible. 

I get a lot of my recipe inspiration from what I find at farmers markets and sometimes it isn’t even the produce...

This particular trip I found some chaga sourdough bread I was super excited to try! (Chaga is mushroom renowned for it’s medicinal properties)

It was delicious!  I made my favorite version of toast with it and was sad I didn’t buy more!

For the toast; it’s just a smear of tahini and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.  It doesn’t sound like much but man, it is delicious!!  Hopefully, you liked this easy recipe and a glimpse of our super cute airbnb!

Love and light,

Crystal

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The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition or disease. It does not replace medical advice from a licensed professional.