Asparagus + Herb Quinoa Pilaf

This is the least paleo recipe I’ve shared, as it includes grains and goat dairy. After many years on an autoimmune diet, I’ve reintroduced gluten-free grains and goat dairy, and wanted to show you how I’m enjoying those ingredients.

If you’re curious about the when and how of food reintroduction, read my post 3 Ways To Successfully Re-Introduce Foods After Elimination Diets.

About the ingredients in Asparagus + Herb Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa — I recommend soaking your quinoa before cooking, to remove the phytic acid and make it more digestible. However, in full disclosure, I didn’t plan ahead enough to soak my quinoa. While I folded my laundry, paid bills, and did the dishes on the day I made this, soaking my quinoa was just too much added adulting for me. If you want to increase digestibility, however, here are instructions for soaking quinoa.

Asparagus — If you don’t have asparagus, feel free to use fresh or frozen peas, lightly cooked so they remain vibrant and green.

Pistachios, orange zest, and dried figs — I love this combination of flavors, especially with spring veggies.

Goat cheese — if you can’t do dairy, use chopped avocado or a non-dairy cheese such as almond ricotta or cashew cheese.

Asparagus + Herb Quinoa Pilaf
Author: Lauren
Serves: Makes 2 – 3 servings

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, soaked if desired (instructions for soaking quinoa here
  • 1¾ cup stock or broth of choice and/or water (if using bone broth, I recommend 1 cup broth with ¾ cup water. If using stock, you can use 1¾ cup of it)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Zest from ½ orange
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ cup chopped dried figs
  • 2 Tbs. chopped pistachios
  • 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • Optional: cooked chicken, to add protein if desired

  1. Before soaking or preparing the quinoa, make sure to rinse it thoroughly. Otherwise, it can be pasty. Put the quinoa in a bowl and cover with water, and then drain through a sieve. Repeat this process.
  2. To cook the soaked quinoa, follow the instructions here. To cook the rinsed quinoa immediately, put it in a pot with the broth/stock/water. Add a pinch of salt (depending on how salty the cooking liquid is) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until it has absorbed the liquid. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Cut off the tough lower stems from the asparagus, and cut it on a diagonal into bite-sized pieces. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Blanch the asparagus by cooking it quickly in the boiling water until just vibrant green and still crunchy — just a couple of minutes. Then, drain the asparagus in a sieve and transfer it directly into the ice water to stop the cooking and retain the color and crunch.
  4. Toss together the asparagus, quinoa, orange zest, lemon juice, dill, and figs. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Before serving, top with the crumbled goat cheese and the pistachios. If you want to make it a full meal, add chopped cooked chicken or another protein of your choice.



image of Asparagus and herb quinoa pilaf

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Tender and Tangy Brisket

I grew up in Montana, where April was still quite cold. Our Easter photos were hastily taken outside in the frosty grass. We smiled through chattering teeth just long enough to snap a photo, then hurried inside for the actual egg hunting around the house. (There was once a huge blizzard in May, but we try to forget that year.) For me, the fragrance of some kind of roast filling the house at any time of year is normal, especially for special occasions.

Enter brisket. April is a month for various celebrations, and a brisket that is both tender and tangy is just the thing to serve. This recipe gets bonus points for being the kind that looks like you slaved forever in the kitchen, but actually takes only minimal effort. If you add root vegetables to the pan, then you’ve got some side dish action going on, too, saving even more time.

Choose a pan that is juuuuuust large enough to comfortably accommodate your roast, veggies, and liquid. We want all the moisture to go right back into the meat, making it succulent and drool-worthy.

Happy spring! And happy celebrating, whatever it is you choose celebrate!


Tender & Tangy Brisket
Prep time
10 mins

Cook time
4 hours

Total time
4 hours 10 mins


Author: Wendi Washington-Hunt
Recipe type: Main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Salt the meat on both sides, ½ tablespoon salt on each side.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil to medium high. Brown the meat on both sides. Remove to a 15×10 baking dish, fat side up. Set aside.
  3. Sauté onions in the remaining oil until they begin to brown.
  4. Add vinegar to the pan. Sauté for 30 seconds. Turn heat down to medium low.
  5. Add broth, molasses, thyme, garlic powder and bay leaves. Stir to combine and heat through. Pour the mixture over the brisket.
  6. Cover the brisket pan tightly with foil. Bake for 4 hours, or until meat is fork tender. (Note: If using vegetables, add them to the pan at the 3-hour mark, and replace foil.)
  7. When the roast is done, remove the bay leaves. You can also scrape the layer of fat off the top, if desired.
  8. To serve, shred, or cut the brisket, and spoon the juices from the pan over all. (Do not skip this step. So much flavor is here!) Arrange root vegetables (if using) around the edge of the platter.



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Just the Thought of Coffee Can Arouse Your Brain

You know that feeling of energy and productivity you get after finishing your morning’s first cup of coffee? It turns out you can get that without even drinking a drop, just by thinking about coffee.

The provocative finding not only highlights the power of thought but also suggests you may be able to get a boost just from thinking about your favorite brew — a habit that may benefit those who drink coffee too close to bedtime. To be clear, organic black coffee can be quite healthy, but for those looking to abstain (such as during pregnancy), your alertness needn’t suffer — just think about pouring yourself a cup.

Thinking About Coffee Arouses Your Brain

In a study involving people from both Western and Eastern cultures, researchers from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management exposed participants to coffee- and tea-related cues in a series of studies.1 Lead author Sam Maglio said in a news release:2

“People often encounter coffee-related cues, or think about coffee, without actually ingesting it … We wanted to see if there was an association between coffee and arousal such that if we simply exposed people to coffee-related cues, their physiological arousal would increase, as it would if they had actually drank coffee.”

While a lot is known about the physiological effects of coffee and caffeine on the body, the researchers explained, less is known about its psychological effects. However, it appears that many people’s brains may be primed toward arousal at the very thought of coffee, especially in Western cultures, where coffee dominates over tea.

After being exposed to coffee-related cues, such as images of coffee, the study participants perceived time as shorter and thought in more concrete, precise terms, which is suggestive of a more alert state of mind.

“People who experience physiological arousal – again, in this case as the result of priming and not drinking coffee itself — see the world in more specific, detailed terms. This has a number of implications for how people process information and make judgments and decisions,” Maglio said.3

The effects were stronger among Westerners than those in Eastern cultures, perhaps because the West maintains a stronger association between coffee and alertness. “In North America we have this image of a prototypical executive rushing off to an important meeting with a triple espresso in their hand,” Maglio continued. “There’s this connection between drinking caffeine and arousal that may not exist in other cultures.”4

Smelling Coffee Increases Alertness Too

Many people love to wake up to the scent of coffee, and it seems this, too, may be one way to jump-start your day — and your brain. Researchers had university students take GMAT algebra tests in a computer lab with an ambient coffee-like scent or no scent. Those in the coffee-scented room performed better on analytical reasoning tasks.5

The researchers also did a follow-up survey asking whether participants believed they would perform better in a room scented with coffee or flowers or no scent at all. Most believed the coffee-scented room would boost their performance, and this expectation, the researchers concluded, was partly responsible for the improved performance shown during testing.

“Our results thus demonstrate that a coffee-like scent (which actually contains no caffeine) can elicit a placebo effect,” the study noted.6 The findings lend even more support to the notion that keeping a bag of coffee beans on hand for a quick whiff could you give you a mental boost in a pinch — no coffee drinking required.

The Case for Drinking Coffee

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, and it’s intriguing that the love for coffee runs so deep that it may exert effects via scent or suggestion. However, the case can be made that drinking coffee is a good habit to get into, as it’s been linked to decreased mortality from a number of diseases, including heart disease, neurological diseases, Type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer, including endometrial and liver.7

There are more than 800 volatile compounds in coffee, although caffeine and chlorogenic acids are the most common. While it was long suggested that coffee consumption could be harmful, it’s now generally believed that moderate amounts of coffee (three to four cups) have few health risks and much evidence of health benefits.8

In one review of 112 meta-analyses about coffee, this popular beverage was linked to a probable decreased risk of colorectal, colon, endometrial and prostate cancers, cardiovascular disease and mortality and Parkinson’s disease, with researchers noting, “Given the spectrum of conditions studied and the robustness of many of the results, these findings indicate that coffee can be part of a healthful diet.”9

As far as your brain is concerned, drinking coffee is known to boost alertness, well-being and concentration, along with improving mood and reducing depression. While it can potentially disrupt your sleep, particularly if you drink it at night, and may increase anxiety in certain people, coffee is linked to a host of brain benefits, including:10

  • Prevention of cognitive decline
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Coffee May Be Even Better if You’re Over 45

The benefits of drinking coffee may only get better with age — a major positive, since for many the love for coffee is lifelong. In fact, a 10-year study presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona showed that people who drank four cups of coffee per day had a 64% decrease in their risk of dying from any cause.

Among those aged 45 and over, however, every two cups of daily coffee lowered the risk of dying during the study period by 30%; no such association was seen in younger adults.11

In another study, this one in individuals aged 60 years and older, drinking two or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of impaired agility in women and in those with obesity. Consuming two or more cups of coffee a day was also associated with a lower risk of impaired mobility in women.12

Coffee may also have a protective effect as you age, including in the case of silent brain infarction (SBI), which are often found in brain scans in healthy elderly people and may be associated with dementia and cognitive decline. Compared with those who didn’t drink coffee, people who drank three or more cups of coffee a day during middle age had a lower incidence of SBI.

“Our report demonstrated that SBI was observed less frequently in middle aged Japanese who consumed 3 cups or more of coffee per day. To avoid senile dementia and/or symptomatic infarction in older age, the middle-aged individuals might have to drink more than 3 cups of coffee every day,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.13

Drinking two to four cups of caffeinated coffee daily has even been associated with a 50% reduced suicide risk among adults, compared to drinking one cup or less of caffeinated coffee, or decaf.14

Protect Your Heart With Coffee?

There are many heart-healthy actions you can take, from eating right to exercising — but is drinking coffee among them? It turns out that even your heart can benefit from a cup of joe.

Research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017 found, for instance, that compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers had a 7 percent lower risk of heart failure and an 8 percent lower risk of stroke for each additional cup of coffee consumed per week.15

Drinking more than three cups of coffee a day may also lower your risk of developing atherosclerosis, also known as clogged arteries, a condition that seriously increases your heart disease risk, by 63%, particularly in people who have never smoked.

“Based on our results and prior studies, consumption of coffee could exert a potential beneficial effect against coronary calcification and cardiovascular disease risk, particularly in nonsmokers,” researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association. “It is possible that deleterious effects of smoking overwhelm the benefits of coffee intake on early cardiovascular disease injury, so this impact of coffee may occur only in people who have never smoked.”16

Coffee Contains Antioxidants

When you think of antioxidants, you may think mostly about fruits and vegetables, but coffee is another excellent source. Further, because coffee is so widely consumed, it’s considered to be a major contributor to dietary antioxidants. With each sip, you’re gaining these beneficial compounds that can scavenge free radicals and more, as researchers explained in Molecules:17

“Brewed coffee is a complex food matrix with numerous phytochemical components that have antioxidant activity capable of scavenging free radicals, donating hydrogen and electrons, providing reducing activity and also acting as metal ion pro-oxidant chelators.

More recent studies have shown that coffee components can trigger tissue antioxidant gene expression and protect against gastrointestinal oxidative stress.”

While many of the benefits of coffee, including its cognitive ones, are often attributed to caffeine, research has shown similar benefits, including increased alertness, leading researchers to speculate that there may be other properties in coffee responsible for its psychoactive effects.18

What’s the Healthiest Type of Coffee?

If you’re not a coffee drinker, there’s no reason to feel compelled to start. There are still many other dietary additions you can make to naturally ward off disease and improve your health. However, if you enjoy coffee, there’s good reason to savor a cup — or a few — each day, though there are some caveats to consider.

Coffee, which is a heavily pesticide-sprayed crop, should always be organic, as well as shade-grown. Coffee is a shade-loving plant, but growers often strip forests to make growing and harvesting easier. This destroys the ecological habitat of many natural pest deterrents, such as birds and lizards, while the pests flourish, resulting in additional pesticide use in nonshade-grown varieties.

Drink your coffee black, skipping the added sugar and milk or cream, as the antioxidant capacity of coffee may be significantly decreased by the addition of milk.19 If you want to add something to your coffee, try coconut oil or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which may help you burn fat and improve mitochondrial function.

Start with a small amount, such as 1 teaspoon of MCT oil, working your way up to 1 or 2 tablespoons, to avoid gastrointestinal side effects. You can also blend in a pat of raw grass fed butter. This recipe is a favorite among those following a ketogenic diet.

Finally, while most people can safely consume coffee, if you’re pregnant you should avoid it due to the caffeine. Coffee consumption during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight babies,20 heart problems21 and behavioral disorders in later life,22 so this is one population who can benefit instead by just thinking about, or smelling, this popular brew.

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How Meditation Makes You More Creative

Research has shown time and again that meditation enhances creativity. It makes sense then that people who want to boost their creative energy—especially those with professions or hobbies that involve expression, like painters, writers, and musicians—might take up meditation or mindfulness practices.

But whether or not you consider yourself a “creative” type, you can still reap the benefits of tapping into your innate creative energy because, along with love, happiness, and several other essential elements of life, creativity is one of the fundamental rights of human beings.

We are all creators in some way. We just express it differently. We want to make our mark, leave our footprint on the world, or make an impression on the planet. Even if we aren’t creating art or even coming up with ideas, we’re constantly creating our world, our destiny, and our karma. Believe it or not, even having children is a form of creativity.

If you pay attention, you’ll see that everyone is creating something, all the time. And for each person, the meaning of creativity (and the result of their creative energy) is unique.

Using meditation to connect with this energy doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly become an artist if you weren’t one before. However, if you are a singer, tapping into your creative energy will make you a better one. And if you’re a manager creating a business strategy? Connecting with your most basic nature will help you be creative with your plan.

How to Meditate for Creativity

Sometimes we don’t exercise our creativity enough, block it, or put it on the back burner in favor of other skills and emotions. This might result in feeling stuck, uninspired, or unmotivated. When this happens, meditation can bring you back in tune with your creative aspect by compelling you to go inward. It allows creativity to flow more clearly and in a more expressive way, which means it’s easier to apply to your everyday life and tasks.

Related: A Meditation on the Creative Process

Any general meditation or mindfulness practice will help you connect to your creativity because when you’re in a meditative mode, you’re connecting with your energy center. Your energy flows where your awareness is, so it becomes much easier to have whatever you’re focusing on manifest outwardly in your life. In this case, it’s creativity.

If you want to go a little deeper, I’d recommend a more specific type of meditation. Human beings have seven chakras, and the second one from the bottom (in the sacral region) is called Svadhisthana. This second chakra is specially connected to your creative energy, and when we meditate on it, our creativity amplifies.

For the most profound benefit, focus on and breathe into the second chakra during meditation to enhance and open it. As a result, you’ll be better at creating your own world with more clarity.

The post How Meditation Makes You More Creative appeared first on Sonima.

Law of Attraction Stories of Success That Will Inspire You

The Law of Attraction states that you will attract into your life whatever you focus on. Whatever you give your energy and attention to will come back to you. So, if you stay focused on the good and positive things in your life, you will automatically attract more good and positive things into your life. @JackCanfield (Click to Tweet!)My mentor was a man named W. Clement Stone, who was worth $600 million when I worked for him. He coached me about the Law of Attraction when I was a teacher in Chicago making $8,000 a year. He told me, “I want you to set a goal that’s so big that if you achieve it, you’ll know it’s because of the secret I am teaching you.”I decided that that goal was to make $100,000 that year. I created an image of a $100,000 dollar bill and hung it on the ceiling above my bed. Every morning I’d see the image. I’d visualize what it would be like to have $100,000. Everything I did was to achieve that goal. At the end of the year, I had made $97,000. This would never have been possible without the Law of Attraction, these visualization techniques, and meditation. I have since gone beyond that goal by using The Law of Attraction, in my life. Here is some other Law of Attraction Success Stories:

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