015: My neck..my back… Tips for dealing with pain and injuries with Jessica Valant

Hi friends! In today’s podcast episode, we’re talking about a fitness lover’s worst nightmare:

injuries… and how to deal with them.

It can be SO hard to be patient while you wait to heal. You want to make sure you’re doing everything you need to do for a full recovery and prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. Thankfully, my good friend Jessica Valant is here with tons of amazing tips for dealing with pain and injuries.

In this episode, we discuss:

– How injuries happen in the first place

– When you should use heat and when you should ice

– When is surgery necessary and when we should explore other options

– Cryotherapy (and why we’ll both never do it)

– How a healthy non-injured person can still have access to a Physical Therapist

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and

– Jessica’s tips for being Healthy In Real Life (such a great one for the upcoming holiday season!)

Jessica Valant Instagram

A little bit about Jessica:

Jessica Valant is the founder of Jessica Valant Pilates. She’s a physical therapist, fitness instructor, Pilates teacher, and mom of two. She has her own membership site and also provides free YouTube and Facebook workouts for her audience. She recently co-founded Momentum Fest with her husband and the dates are set for next year! Be sure to check it out if you’re close to Denver or want to plan a movement-based vacay.

Resources from this episode:

Jessica’s membership site

Her AMAZING YouTube channel (she’s super close to hitting 100k subscribers, so help a girl out and click “subscribe!”)

Some of my favorite YouTube videos from Jessica:

Back pain relief exercises

Exercises for shoulder pain

Hip strengthening and hip pain

How to do crunches without neck pain

Pelvic floor exercises

Sciatica pain relief

Scoliosis exercises

Thank you so much for listening and for all of your support with the podcast! Please leave a rating or review if you enjoyed this episode. If you leave a rating, head to this page and you’ll get a little “thank you” gift from me to you.

You can listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play.

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Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

This is a noodle salad you’ll crave every day. A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. It has tofu and peanuts, coconut, ginger, avocado, and hemp seeds. The dressing(!) – it’s simple but strong, and steps in with an assertive spicy sriracha-lime punch. This is one of those near-perfect one dish meals. You might not want to prep this many ingredients every day, but you’ll forget about that detail the minute you take a bite. And you can see exactly how it comes together in the video below. xx! -h

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Noodle Salad: Make Ahead Components

A couple of tips – you can make the dressing a few days in advance. You can also do much of the chopping and grating a day or two in advance. Cook the noodles to order, though.

Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

Let me know if you try it, and please report back if you land on any seasonal adaptations that you are particularly excited about.

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Life Changing Green Rice Porridge (Instant Pot, Vegan)

I don’t use the term life changing lightly, but this rice porridge recipe fits the bill. It’s a one pot, effortless, green, nutrient-packed twist on one of my favorite things to eat. Congee, also commonly referred to as rice porridge. This version incorporates a lot of chopped spinach. A lot. Enough spinach that your body will notice.

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

The Cooking Method

I make this porridge in an Instant Pot. You can also make it in a thick-bottomed pot on the stovetop – no Instant Pot necessary. Although, that method requires more babysitting. Similar to this Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric, you put your rice into the pot, add water or broth, walk away, and start daydreaming about toppings.

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

Let’s Talk about Toppings

Here you see lime, crushed kale chips and toasted nori, toasted pepitas, hemp seeds, and jungle peanuts. The tofu is sliced thinly, drizzled with shoyu, and draped over the porridge. Sometimes I spike the whole situation with sriracha sauce, sometimes I don’t.

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

Getting the Rice Porridge Just Right

I’ve settled on a ratio of brown rice to white rice that works really well. You’ll see that reflected in the recipe. It’s one part white jasmine rice to two parts brown jasmine rice. You can optionally pepper that rice blend with 1/4 cup of other quick cooking grains or pulses if you like – French lentils, adzuki beans, Job’s tears, etc. Or not, totally your call!

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

I know I say this often, but feel free to use this recipe and ratio as a jumping off point. Next time I might add a bunch of chopped herbs, and use another favorite broth in place of water.

I hope you love this rice porridge! It’s nutrient-packed and green. Simple to make. Made with whole foods. Delicious anytime of day. One pan magic. And, the perfect hearty, satisfying canvas to load up with your favorite toppings.

Lastly, for anyone looking for more Instant Pot recipe inspiration, I’ve set up an Instant Pot recipe category – all my favorite successes are featured there. And, for reference, this is the Instant Pot I used for this recipe: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1Enjoy!

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4 o’clock No-bake Energy Bites

Energy bites aren’t a new thing, but if you’re a person that grabs commercial power bars regularly, and you’re not already on board, give these a try as a DIY alternative. I make them for a 4 o’clock late afternoon snack to reach for when I’m at the studio, but they’re also a great travel option. Kids love them. Adults love them. The best part is that you’re in control of the ingredients, and they’re a breeze to make. That said, I deploy a few, small, but (I’ll argue) significant personal preferences when I set out to make energy bites.
No-bake Energy Bites

Energy Bite Strategy

Most recipes tend to use raw coconut flakes, and raw oats. I find a light toasting of both is worth the slight extra effort. I also like chia seeds here, and tend to use them as my seed of choice, but I first beat them up in a mortar and pestle a bit before adding them to the mix. Also, feel free to swap things up a bit – trade in alternate seeds, use whatever sweetener you prefer, add spices if you like, or an alternative nut butter, or keep things simple, and just go with this version – Enjoy!

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A quick side note, I make these with whatever nut butter I have on hand. Typically peanut or almond butter, but in the video up above you’ll see sunflower seed butter. All great!

No-bake Energy Bites

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Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

This is the sort of meal I crave after a travel stint. It’s when I end up lingering around the produce section even longer than usual in an effort to cherry-pick the most vibrant ingredients. In this case, rainbow chard with electric pink stems, a tight head of pale yellow cauliflower, just-cut chives – green, tall, and straight. The perfect avocado. I think we can all agree, these types of rainbow bowls are all about finding good ingredients. Here’s how it played out. Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl
Lightly cooked cauliflower is chopped, then tossed with turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and a touch of ghee – although, you could certainly, use coconut or olive oil. The cauliflower is the base to which you add whatever else you might have at hand – sliced avocado, hard-boiled eggs, toasted seeds, rainbow chard stems, lettuces. While the cauliflower was steaming, I pureed the chives with olive oil for a finishing drizzle. It’s a bowl exploding with color and freshness, light and bright with enough substance to keep me feeling A+ throughout the afternoon….Enjoy! -h

Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

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The Creamiest Vegan Soup (Cauliflower)

If you’re looking to make a silky smooth, creamy vegan soup, today is your day. This gem caught my attention because it is quite different than most “creamy” vegan soups I come across. It uses a clever trick to achieve its signature texture. And the resulting soup doesn’t rely on heavy cream or lots of coconut milk. Bingo.
The Creamiest Vegan Soup Recipe
The lineage of this soup goes something like this. Genius recipe-spotter Kristen Miglore highlighted this Paul Bertolli recipe on Food52 back in 2011. The CAP Beauty ladies gave it a turmeric and mustard twist in their new book, and I went from there. Adding yellow split peas on top make it a one-bowl meal, nutritional yeast tees up some cheesy flavor notes. I also upped the quantity because, leftovers.

The Creamiest Vegan Soup Recipe

The Technique: Make a Vegan Soup Super Creamy

The base of this soup is cauliflower. I make cauliflower soup all the time. The thing that makes this recipe special is the cooking technique. You let the cauliflower steam, in the pot, for 15 minutes. You can do this with cauliflower and get tender delicious florets out of the process. When you do this with vegetables like asparagus you end up with sad, overcooked, off color asparagus. Long way of saying, cauliflower is a great ingredient for this technique. Carrot and sweet potato also love the steam approach. 

The Creamiest Vegan Soup Recipe

This is a vegan soup.  It is also gluten-free, boosted with turmeric, and relatively quick to make on a weeknight. Leftovers are great and endlessly adaptable.

Other Ideas

This version is spike with  turmeric and mustard. You can certainly explore other directions. Grated ginger would be a great addition. Or, if you have spices left over from chana masala, perfect! I even stir a cup of rice porridge into the leftovers, for an excellent rice soup.

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13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthy, Feel-Good Food

I’m so excited about this post, I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner! I love being able to use my site not only to share the recipes I’m excited about cooking, but to highlight other cooks who inspire me. Many of them have Instagram accounts, so I thought I’d pull together a list of a few favorites. My hope is that they’ll all inspire you to want to jump into the kitchen. They tend to celebrate lots of plants and vegetables, and generally integrate food, cooking, balance, and wellness into their lives in a way that inspires others. I actually have a much longer list, so think of this as the first installment. And, if you’re into it, I’ll share more!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Ellen Fisher / @ellenfisher – I love this family. Watching the kids grow up on Ellen’s You Tube channel has been amazing, their love for good food and nature from the time they were tiny is inspiring to all. One love! :)!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– Alaina Sullivan / @alasully – She’s on design over at Bon Appétit Magazine, but she’s actually one of my favorite cooks to watch.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– Candice Kumai / @candicekumai/ – Excited for her new book! – Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Heidi Swanson / @heidijswanson – My Instagram, just in case you’re not already following!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– ABCVNYC / @abcvnyc – Top of my list the next time I’m in NYC. I just wish they posted more! 🙂

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Andy Baraghani / @andybaraghani – I met Andy at a dinner at David Tanis’s house a few days days before he started as Senior Food Editor at Bon Appétit Magazine and I couldn’t wait to see what he’d be up to. He’s just got that je ne sais quoi, and his recipes are are, so often, exactly what you want to be eating. Color, texture, flavor – he’s just one of those cooks who has the good spidey sense.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Beatrice Valenzuela / @beatricevalenzuela – Known for her clothing, shoe, and jewelry designs, Beatrice is actually one of my favorite cooks to watch. Catch glimpses through her watch Insta-stories for a peek into her Echo Park kitchen & life.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– Botanica / @botanicafood – The Instagram feed for Botanica Food & Market in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. If you can’t be there, you can at least see what is coming out of the kitchen ;)…

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Camille Becerra / @camillebecerra – Chef at DeMaria in New York, all around inspiring person. Only wish Camille was West Coast :)!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – INDAY / @inday_nyc – Energizing Food + Good Karma, wish there was an INDAY in San Francisco.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Nourished Journal / @nourishedjournal – a great wellness gateway with lots of wonderful profiles – for ex: alaalison, allylwalsh, and mynewroots.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Sprouted Kitchen / @sproutedkitchen – Real life, real food. Love Sara.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Anna Jones / @we_are_food – One of my favorite U.K. cookbook authors.

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Instant Pot Chickpea Cauliflower Korma

Today’s recipe is a fantastic mash-up of sorts. It’s an Insta-friendly riff on the Chickpea Cauliflower Korma recipe in Jennifer Iserloh’s The Healing Slow Cooker. An Instant Pot korma. I paired it with the high-impact Indian-spiced Simmer Sauce from Coco Morante’s The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. If you have a simmer sauce on hand, whether it’s this aforementioned one, or a store-bought version you love, this couldn’t come together more quickly. It’s the perfect vehicle to get all sorts of goodness into your body in one, delicious sitting.

Instant Pot Chickpea Cauliflower Korma

I love this recipe because it’s absolutely packed with power ingredients, including a nice range of fragrant spices. I like to think I get a lot of spice in my diet, but I think the real key is integrating spice blends into lots of meals. Not just a few times a week, but daily. For example, the simmer sauce has coriander, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, paprika, and whatever spices are in your garam masala blend. It’s how you shift from single notes to a chord.

Instant Pot Chickpea Cauliflower Korma

No problem if you don’t have an Instant Pot, a stovetop version is a breeze as well, and I’ll include guidelines for that down below! Also, for reference, this is the Instant Pot I used for this recipe: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1

Instant Pot Chickpea Cauliflower Korma

Side note – Another way to get a medley of spices and power-ingredients into your meals are pastes. That’s part of the reason I love strong curry pastes like this one, or a boosted miso paste like this one.

Lastly, if you have an Instant Pot, be sure to poke around this new section with all the instant pot recipes in one place.

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How To Make the Creamy, Toasted Coconut Milk of Your Dreams

Let me start by saying, if you already make your own nut milks at home, you have to try this. I mean – walk to your kitchen, turn the oven dial, and get some coconut in there. You have to trust me here. I started making homemade toasted coconut milk a few months ago, and it has become one of my favorite things. It’s creamy, rich, nutty, and intense. I enjoy it immensely on its own, and as an ingredient in other preparations as well. It’s a real flavor punch. Imagine all the ways you can use it to make some of your favorite preparations even better. It’s great in chai tea, in morning oatmeal, baked oatmeal(!). You can use it in a wild range of sweet preparations, but it’s also good as a way to add a little je ne sais quoi, to broths, soups, and weeknight curries.

You can see how it comes together in a video of the process here, and you can find the recipe down below, as well as a few notes. Let me know if you make it, and if you do, please let me know how you’re using it!

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A couple notes. If you want to totally geek out on this, play around with the toastiness of your coconut. If you toast coconut deeply, you’re going to have a different profile than a more lightly toasted coconut. I tend to ride the dark side of the spectrum, but it’s wild the difference between a milk made with lightly toasted versus dark. Both delicious, just different.

Toasted Coconut Milk

Toasted Coconut Milk

Also, like all pure coconut milk, it will separate. And it solidifies in the refrigerator. Use it as you would canned coconut milk, and expect it to behave similarly (i.e. you might need to warm it up a bit, and give it a good stir before using)…

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Spicy Tahini Noodles with Roasted Vegetables

This is my favorite kind of weeknight meal. Noodles tossed with a quick sauce, topped with an abundance of vegetables, and kissed with chile feistiness courtesy of the condiment shelf. Spicy tahini noodles. It’s in high-rotation around here at the moment, and I’ll mention some variations down below. The gist: make a simple, thinned-out tahini sauce, roast the vegetables while your pasta water is coming to a boil, toss and serve on one platter. If you like those old-school Chinese restaurant spicy peanut noodles, these are sort-of their tahini slathered distant cousins.

A couple things worth noting. I’ve made this with fresh udon noodles (delicious!), you see it pictured here made with whole wheat fettuccini (thumbs up), and I’m also convinced thick, wide rice noodles would be good. Feel free to experiment. I think the key is a substantial noodle – skip the angel hair, and soba for this round.

Spicy Tahini Noodles with Roasted Vegetables

Spicy Tahini Noodles with Roasted Vegetables

On the vegetable front, literally clean out your crisper, and play around with the different vegetables you use here. Just group them in neighborhoods. This way if some of the vegetables cook more quickly than others, you can just move them off the sheet pan.

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