Summer Solstice Tips
Summer Living - Take It Easy
The summer solstice (or estival solstice), also known as midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight. At the pole, there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice.
As a teacher of ChiBall/Yoga, summer is one of my favourite classes to teach, both physically and in my cooking/nutrition sessions. As the season of passion, abundance and high energies, we should flourish physically, mentally and emotionally. In my Summer ChiBall class we will have sequences based on specifically working the heart and small intestine, as these are the corresponding organs for the fire element. The heart pumps blood – the small intestine processes food so the body can use it. The stomach receives food – the small and large intestines transmit and excrete waste. The triple warmer releases heat and the pericardium protect our heart from emotional stress.
FIRE – Laughter and joy are valuable emotions and today there are sadly not enough of these wonderful emotions on display. Someone who can’t laugh or show love and affection, or who demonstrates excess amounts, reveals a Fire imbalance. Remember we are all looking to achieve the same. BEING IN OUR ELEMENT! The key therefore to the Fire Element ChiBall class is for healing your heart, improving your circulation…relieving insomnia…reducing anxiety…developing self-love, because when we lack fire, we lack emotional warmth. If your energy reserves are low and you feel fatigued, this can mean that the kidney energy is low and that you did not rest enough and recuperate during the winter. If this is the case, then it is essential that you look after yourself as much as possible in the summer months, or your energy could be even lower in winter, leaving you more susceptible to colds and other viral infections.
This is the best time of year to lose weight, so choose foods which are easy to digest, eat salads and fresh fruits. Sea vegetables salads such as wakame with grated apple, Arame mixed with fresh greens are a great way to pack in minerals. Use Sweet White Miso to lighten up the taste of your daily miso soup and simply cook with tiny tofu cubes. Macrobiotic Paella is a favourite dish of mine to cook at this time of year served alongside a delicious summer salad. Use spring onions and some parsley for garnish. On the whole our diet should be of a cooler, lighter nature. Foods that strengthen the heart are bitter endive and dandelion, asparagus, whole grains such as rice and bulgur or couscous, and don’t forget to drink lots of clean living water. Dandelion root tea is an excellent tea for strengthening the heart and also aids in digestion.
Calming Summer Foods
As the ‘shen’ or ‘spirit’ is ruled by the heart, it is important to recognise both the foods, which settle and support the ‘shen’ and those, which weaken it. Sugar, alcohol, tea, coffee, refined foods, large evening meals and food consumed late at night, weaken it. Lemons have a calming action on the mind, as do whole grains, such as oatcakes which is attributed to the fact that these raise serotonin levels, an important neurotransmitter in the brain which is known to promote sound sleep and tranquillity. You will find a plethora of foods for every season in my book Go Vegan available world-wide on amazon.
Summer Solstice Noodle Bowl
Here is the basic formula for creating an endless variety of wholesome, tasty, and brilliantly colourful pasta salads based on what you find throughout the seasons. Always a great hit among the ‘mixed’ crowd of vegans and non-vegans.
1 pack corn and rice fusilli pasta
For the dressing
1 cup oil-free mayonnaise (page 194)
1½ tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp brown rice syrup
2 tbsp juice from dill pickles or ume plum vinegar
For the salad
1 cup roasted red pepper, cut into small dice
1 cup carrots, grated
1 cup olives, black and green, chopped
1 cup celery, cut into small dice
1 cup cucumber, peeled and cut into small dice
2 cups spring onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 cup red radishes, very thinly sliced
1 cup dill pickles, cut into small dice
½ cup fresh parsley, minced
½ cup fresh coriander, minced
Red and green chicory leaves
Chopped chives and roasted pine nuts
In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Remove from the heat and rinse in cold water until completely cooled. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add all the vegetables herbs and mix well. Stir in the dressing and garnish with the chives and roasted pine nuts. Decorate with the green and red chicory leaves. Enjoy my bowl of sunshine. Makes 6–8 servings.
Lavender has an affinity with the Fire Element, partly due to its ability to clear heat. On an emotional level calms and soothes the ‘SHEN’ in times of stress and exhaustion, so helping with symptoms such as panic attacks, hysteria and insomnia. Invokes peacefulness of spirit and tranquillity of the mind. Can lower blood pressure and ease palpitations.
Agrimony, for those who on the surface may appear cheerful but underneath is hiding anxiety and pain. Can transform inner pain and suffering by bringing a note of lightness, joy and the ability to laugh at our problems.
When is the last time you said to a friend, how healthy are your intestines? Not something we are likely to talk about is it? Most of us, however, would be unlikely to gauge the health of any of our organs. Physical symptoms to watch out for if our intestines are not functioning properly are, anaemia, poor muscle tone, pain in the lower abdomen and haemorrhoids. Treat yourself to some ‘Sweet Orange’ Essential Oil, antispasmodic oil that is ideal for digestive disorders and can help to unblock stagnant chi when it accumulates in the body. Physically it can also help with symptoms of abdominal distension and pain, flatulence or irritable bowel. Sweet Orange is mildly sedative and on an emotional level can help to relax the ambitious workaholic who over-works. Instils an air of buoyancy and joy when inhaled and can be a good oil to help combat insomnia.
Having understood then about the FIRE ELEMENT [heart and small intestine] let us all look at the phrase ‘quality time’ which is one we hear often in this busy day and age – time to put aside a regular appointment with number one ‘YOURSELF’.
As you are aware the ChiBall Method is a holistic approach to exercise, therefore, holism means the care of the whole person, mind, body and spirit, so let’s grab the opportunity with both hands and improve our well being!
Thank you for your interest and have a healthy and enjoyable summer.
In good health
Vegan 'Healthy' Budget Food
Being a healthy vegan does not require special skills, special food or an elitist lifestyle.
One of my absolute favourite foods are sweet potatoes. Aside from being one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, they are also in my superstar low budget status foods list as one of the cheapest. We all know that anything GREEN ranks up at the top of any vegetable listing so a combination of sweet potatoes with greens is my starting point when I work with clients who live way below the line in terms of affordability of food choices.
Affordable for all
I encourage all of my clients and students to invest in their health. When they have this information, they can make informed choices and seriously change the course of their life to one of longevity with great energy. Instead of spending two or three pounds on junk food, i.e. cheap frozen meals, pizza, etc., they can bulk up on sweet potatoes and greens that will last them for days. The added bonus here is that both of these foods are at the top of my list for nutrient density.
Don't Eat Vegan Junk Food
People tell me all the time, oh, I cannot afford to be vegan, it's too expensive. And yes, for many they believe that to be true because they are looking at the vegan ready-made processed fake burgers etc., and it's good to note that junk food is not necessarily cheap food. Many of the processed vegan foods on the market are loaded with salt, sugar and fats just as non-vegan processed food is. It's all junk.
There is also so much misinformation about having to take loads of supplements if you follow a vegan diet. However, when I introduce people to my way of eating a HEALTHY vegan diet of grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds they see this as doable.
Another important point to make here is that processed food is linked to many types of cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes but discovering that not only are my beloved sweet potatoes jam packed with nutrition, they may have special cancer-fighting properties. In 1931, a unique protein was discovered in sweet potatoes. Later renamed, 80% of the protein in sweet potatoes is a type of protease inhibitor, with potential anticancer effects. How does a sweet potato protein ever get into our bloodstream? As soon as most proteins hit our stomach, they start getting digested. Remarkably, though, this class of proteins doesn’t just survive digestion, but may be absorbed into the bloodstream intact. Not only does sweet potato protein slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, but decreases cancer cell “migration and invasion.”
Low Budget Recipes & Home Cooking
Research shows that cooking meals at home actually improves health outcomes. Do people who cook live longer? Researchers in Taiwan found that those “who cook their own food are healthier, and do, indeed, appear to live longer. We began the long process of turning over to the food industry many of the decisions about what we eat. Today, our staggering rates of obesity and diabetes are testimony to the faith we put in corporations to feed us well. But the food industry is a business, not a parent, it doesn’t care what we eat as long as we’re willing to pay for it, vegan or non-vegan, it's junk.
Home cooking these days has far more than sentimental value, it’s a survival skill. Join me in my plant based nutrition workshops and cooking classes and learn how to be a healthy vegan on a low budget.
You will also find a variety of low budget vegan recipes in my latest book Go Vegan
In good health
Quick & Easy Summer Recipes
MACROVegan ChitChat with Marlene
As we head towards the season of summer I wanted to share some article links for you to read whilst enjoying some quick and easy recipes. These are just a few of the dishes I created for my latest book Go Vegan now available world-wide. Being a vegan and an environmentalist go hand in hand as far as I am concerned. How the two are related is a no brainer to me. A plant-based vegan diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to help save our planet.
Each and every one of us are responsible for the way we live. When we see our world in crisis with daily headlines such as these:
Temperatures Exceed 50C During Heatwave In India: Over 20 Dead
'Bad News for All Species': New Study Shows Nearly 600 Plants Wiped Out Over the Past 250 Years
The Gulf could see one of the largest dead zones in history this year
Animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions and is the leading cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution we must all act. We are the only ones who can change ourselves. When we have succeeded we then assist others, we refer to this as switching on lighthouses.
Go Vegan to save the planet is the No.1 thing we can all do to stop climate change. The meat and dairy industry are one of the main contributors to global warming. However, another lighthouse was switched on this week - I was delighted to see that Iceland elected 41-year-old environmentalist Katrin Jakobsdottir, the 41-year-old chairwoman of the Left-Green Movement as Prime Minister.
Be a catalyst for change!
Summer is a time to make new friends and bring old ones back together. Make this summer a magical season by sharing these articles and recipes with family and friends, we can all bring about change with non-violent peaceful education. It only takes one grain of sand to turn the tide, I remind myself of that daily. It is not a sacrifice to be a healthy vegan, it is a great joy. Ask your family and friends, What food can possibly taste better than your health?
Enjoying delicious healthy plant-based vegan food, causing no suffering to our animals, and helping heal our environment for future generations is about making informed choices. We are all in this together, all of us.
Quick & Easy Summer Recipes from Go Vegan
Yakisoba brings an eclectic mix of oriental dining to the heart of your table. Yakisoba, literally ‘fried buckwheat’, is a Japanese noodle stir-fry dish. Although soba means buckwheat, yakisoba noodles are actually made from wheat flour. Whether in the form of udon, soba, yakisoba, somen, the universally popular ramen or other forms, Japan’s love affair with noodles is rich and varied.
For the sauce
2 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp filtered water
2 tsp ginger juice
1 tbsp mirin
Make sauce by combining the ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
1 pack soba noodles
1 cup sliced onion (thin half-moons)
Few pinches sea salt
½ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ cup carrots, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup mung bean sprouts
In a large pot, cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and wash well with cold water. Set aside. In a large wok, heat a splash or two of water and sauté the onions with a few pinches of sea salt for 4–5 minutes, until translucent.
Add the mushrooms, carrots and celery and keep sautéing for 3–4 more minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and continue sautéing, mixing all the vegetables well in the wok. Add the soba noodles on top of the vegetables, cover and steam for a few minutes on a medium-low flame. If the bottom of the wok is dry, add a little water before covering. Open the cover, pour in the sauce, and toss the bean sprouts over the vegetables. Still over a low flame, mix the noodles and vegetables together using tongs. Mix gently so that the noodles don’t break, but the sauce penetrates all the ingredients. Adjust the flavour if necessary by adding a splash or two of shoyu. Garnish with fresh coriander. Makes 4–6 servings.
Sweet Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce
There are two general varieties of cherries: sweet and sour. Cherry and chocolate are not a new or revolutionary flavour combination, but when beautiful organic sweet cherries are used alongside a little chocolate sauce, the ice cream turns into something deliciously decadent.
2 cups banana, sliced
2 cups frozen sweet cherries
2 tbsp plant-based milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Fresh mint sprig for garnish
Peel and slice the banana and freeze in a freezer bag overnight. Remove from the bag and allow the banana to sit on the counter top for a few minutes before processing. Place all the ingredients into a food processor or high-speed blender. Pulse and push the fruit back down to the blade. Process until thick and creamy. Makes 4–6 servings.
Note – If using a blender, start slowly then increase the speed, using the tamper to push down the frozen fruit. You may have to add an extra few tablespoons of plant-based milk or water to the blender. Increase the speed to high, continue to use the tamper, pushing the ingredients down to the blade. Blend until you reach a thick and creamy texture. You can add other berries and frozen fruits for wonderful colour and a different taste. Serve immediately with some fresh fruit and/or with the chocolate sauce. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Quick chocolate sauce
¼ cup rice syrup
3 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla extract or powder
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Pour into a squeezy bottle and use as a decorative treat for ice cream or other desserts. Keep refrigerated.
Thank you for sharing and caring and for being a fellow activist who desires to see the much needed shift to a plant-based vegan diet as much as Bill and I do.
In good health
Thank You For My Regained Health
I am so fortunate to have met Marlene. She is the most wonderful inspiration and an amazing teacher with incredible knowledge that she shares eagerly and passionately with you. Her never-ending support and encouragement as she guides you back to health are a gift in itself.
Although I had been an almost lifelong vegetarian, eating a predominately vegan diet I have learnt so much about eating a very different vegan diet, one that nourishes every cell of my body. I have loved all the food and it has already transformed my energy, my looks and my health! I am amazed.
I am so thrilled with Marlene’s new book Go Vegan. It is a beautifully laid out book with stunning photographs of every recipe. I want to make everything. The book is more than a cookbook. It is filled with incredible information that covers nutritional science, ancient wisdom and Marlene’s passion for our environment.
Seriously, I have only known Marlene a few months, but you actually hear her speaking when you read the book. As Marlene says, health is everything, without health, everything is nothing.
Sonia Jennings. U.K.
Improve Your Gut Health Naturally
Change your environment - change your gut health
A healthy digestive system is at the root of all health. That's logical because your digestive tract is the basic source of the nourishment every cell in your body needs. Your gut is a very delicate ecosystem, with more flora (healthy bacteria) in it than all the other cells in the body put together. When this ecosystem is healthy, your digestive tract has the proper balance of stomach acids and bacteria. This allows your body to breakdown food for nourishment and cell repair.
Without the ability to absorb nutrition from your food and eliminate waste, you may experience all kinds of health issues that, on the surface, don't seem to be related to digestion. It's good to remind ourselves that the lining in your gut is actually part of your immune system. It is important therefore to eat the healthiest, most nutritious diet possible. But if your stomach and intestines aren't working efficiently, even the ideal diet won't do as much for your health. You're not going to be able to optimally extract and absorb the chemical building blocks your body depends on. You are therefore, not what you eat, but what you absorb.
By eating more wholegrain, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and fresh fruits you will improve your digestion. Aside from the huge benefit of having your digestive system in tip-top condition you will also reduce inflammation that in turn decreases your risk of so many of the non-communicable diseases that plague society. There are countless ways to increase your metabolism and improve your gut health. The number of people suffering needlessly with digestive disease, in particular IBD continues to escalate.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Many clients with IBD tell me that they have been told by their doctor to have a low-fibre diet. To an extent if you have IBD, then fibre intake must be monitored, however, as I see it, the most important gut health benefits of a wholefood plant-based diet is in actual fact the fibre. The fibre is the pre-biotic that the gut bacteria thrive on. I have my clients with IBD introduce short grain brown rice cooked with an umeboshi plum. This is incredibly nutritious and soothing for the digestive system. This simple medicinal method of cooking is a fantastic way to strengthen your digestive system – try this for a period of 21 days. Simply make the rice as you do for your morning porridge and add a half umeboshi plum (diced) towards the end of cooking.
Plant-based foods can actually reduce IBD activity by promoting a healthy microbiome, helping maintain the mucus layer, reducing the formation of pro-inflammatory mediators and by inhibiting the action of harmful bacteria. A ginger compress is also of huge benefit so take some time and assist your body in healing.
If you currently are on a low-fibre diet, I would recommend a gradual change such as introducing the short grain brown rice as suggested, a little fruit,(cooked fruit is best) then add in small portions of beans or lentils with some steamed vegetables. Monitor the outcome daily as you add more fibre to your diet. All of our clients have wonderful results and have reversed their disease by following these simple steps.
In good health