Cauliflower Fried Rice

This recipe is perfect for those times you’re looking to use up your leftover vegetables and those nights you feel too damn tired to cook, but want to make something quick and healthy anyway.

Carrots, peas, and broccoli are some of my favorite vegetables to add to this dish, but even if all you have is egg and scallions, you still can make a delicious fried rice. There’s so much variety with fried rice! This recipe, of course, switches out rice for cauliflower.  It’s low-carb, surprisingly filling, and breaking up the cauliflower takes hardly anytime at all if you have a blender or food processor.

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Ingredients

(makes 3 portions)

-1 head cauliflower.

-Peas (fresh or frozen– right now is the season to buy fresh!)

-1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces

-1-2 carrots, dice by halving the carrot widthwise and cutting each half lengthwise, then chop each piece into small bites.

-2 scallions, diced. Separate the white bottoms and green tops.

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-2 eggs, whisked

-Oil (I used toasted sesame oil)

-Tamari or soy sauce to taste

-Black pepper

 

Instructions

1. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and break apart the florets, placing them in a blender or food processor.  Pulse until it looks like rice.  Remove and place in a bowl.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables.  In a small bowl, whisk two eggs and add salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large pan over medium-high.  Add oil to the pan, carrots, broccoli, peas, the white bottoms of the scallions, and garlic.  Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the cauliflower, black pepper and tamari/soy sauce.  Add more oil to the pan if it’s dry and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  Turn off the heat, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, and wipe out the pan.

3.  Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil.  Add the eggs to the pan and scramble.  Once the eggs are nearly cooked through, add the vegetables back to the pan to stir to combine.  Add more seasoning to taste and garnish with the green tops of the scallions.  Serve, and enjoy!

Trout With Green Beans and Potatoes

Trout is incredibly healthy and similar to salmon in color and taste, though it’s a bit more mild of a fish. This recipe is simple and easy to prepare but uses the magical combination of butter, fresh herbs, and lemon juice to really enhance the flavor.  I also enjoy this dish with asparagus instead of green beans, especially right now while asparagus is in season.

This recipe serves two people and can be prepared in about 45-50 minutes by any beginner chef.  There’s not a whole lot of work involved and clean up is easy. Yippee!

Ingredients 

-1 lb fresh trout fillet

-1/2 lb green beans, stems removed & halved

-1 lb small red potatoes, cleaned and quartered

-Avocado oil or olive oil

-4 tbs lemon juice

-fresh herbs, finely chopped (rosemary, thyme, dill, tarragon, parsley, basil)

-1 tbsp butter, melted

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Heat a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook 10 minutes or until just tender.  Drain thoroughly.
  2. Spread the greens beans in a large pan with the potatoes.  Add salt and pepper.  Pat the trout dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay the fish skin side down on top of the greens beans and potatoes.  Drizzle the fish and vegetables in oil making sure everything is evenly coated.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. While the fish cooks, combine the herbs and lemon juice with melted butter. Plate your fish and veggies and pour the herbed butter over the food.  Enjoy!

Asian Chicken Meatballs with Vegetables

Recently I’ve been watching videos of this chef organizing her food into bento boxes and have been finding the videos very calming to watch.  I’m kind of like those people who enjoy watching Youtube videos of Koreans eating, though that part I’m not into.  One thing I’ve noticed about the bento boxes it that they always contain majority vegetables, something acidic, a very small portion of protein (about the size of the palm of your hand), some gluten-free grains, and something probiotic.  I was inspired by the bento boxes when I came up with this recipe: Asian chicken meatballs with broccolini, maitake mushrooms, brown rice, and microgreens with lime.  I bought a premade dressing for the microgreens consisting of a variety of probiotics (pickle brine, sauerkraut brine, etc), but you could also add pickled vegetables or kimchi to the meal to include your probiotic component.  Though this meal takes about 45 minutes to cook,  it is a fairly easy recipe even for beginner cooks, and most of these ingredients should be staples in your pantry.

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

-1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce or hoisin

-1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce

-1 tsp. or more of sriracha depending on how hot you like it

-1 tbsp. honey

 

For the Meatballs:

-1lb. organic ground chicken

-1 egg

-1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

-3 scallions, sliced thinly and white bottoms separated from green tops

-1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger or ginger powder

-3 minced garlic cloves or 2 tbsp. garlic powder

-salt and pepper

 

For the Rice:

-1 cup brown rice

-2 cups water

-2 pinches salt

-1 tbsp. ghee, or preferred fat (oil, butter)

-1 lime + zest

-sesame seeds

 

For the Salad:

-Microgreens

 

Instructions

Note- Allow the rice to soak overnight or for some time before cooking (I soaked my rice this time for 40 minutes).  This will reduce cook time, release nutritional enzymes, and make the rice more digestible.

  1.   Fill a medium-sized pot with water, rice, fat, and salt.  Bring the water to boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat leaving the lid on. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Add lime zest and fluff rice with a fork.
  2. Wash and prep your vegetables while the rice cooks.  In a small bowl, make the sauce.  Zest the lime in a small bowl using a microplane then quarter the lime and set aside. In a large skillet, heat oil and add the white bottoms of the scallions, ginger and garlic and cook about 1 minute or until aromatic.  Transfer to a large bowl and wipe out the pan.
  3. Add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, half of the sauce, and the salt and pepper to the bowl containing the onion, ginger and garlic. Mix the ingredients and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes so it’ll be easier to form the meatballs.
  4. Reheat the pan to medium-hot and add enough oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the broccolini and mushrooms and toast in the oil.  Let cook without touching while you form the meatballs.
  5.  Flip the broccolini and mushrooms and brown the other sides.  Get two large bowls ready so you can divide the vegetables between the bowls when they’ve finished browning.  Wipe out the pan.
  6. Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and add enough oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.  Add the meatballs, cooking 4-6 minutes per side.  You’ll know when the meatball is ready to turn when it’s no longer sticking to the pan.  Once cooked, add 1/4 cup water and the remaining sauce to the pan.  Toss the meatballs in the sauce to evenly coat and scrape up any remaining fond in the pan. When the sauce has reduced, remove from the heat.
  7. In the bowls containing the vegetables, add brown rice, the salad, lime, and the meatballs. Dress the salad with the lime, garnish with the green tops of the scallions, and sprinkle sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Bolognese

There’s something so comforting about Italian food, especially the way it brings family and friends together. Whenever I cook Italian, I try to channel an old Italian grandmother by using this age-old secret ingredient: love. By putting all my love into the food and preparation, a good meal can become a great meal.

Bolognese is a staple of Italian cooking, though I actually had zero experience making a bolognese sauce before this.  I’m all about easy always, so this recipe is right up my alley. Use the freshest ingredients whenever possible (just another way you can add love to the meal), including fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones if they’re in season. To make this recipe even easier, I recommend having a blender on hand to help with the sauce.

Ingredients

-5 large tomatoes, medium or large diced depending on your blender (my favorite, if you have access to them, are early girl organic dry-farmed tomatoes)

-6 basil leaves

-3 whole garlic cloves, plus 2 chopped garlic cloves (keep separate)

-1lb ground beef (grass-fed, organic)

-1 yellow onion, small diced

-1 lb shitake mushrooms, chopped

-2 tablespoons tomato paste

-extra virgin olive oil

-salt, pepper

-crushed red pepper flakes

-spaghetti

 

Instructions

  1. In a blender, add these ingredients in the following order: 1/2 cup olive oil, chopped tomatoes, 3 whole garlic cloves, basil, salt, and pepper.  Blend until it’s a sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or enough to almost cover the bottom of the pan.  Add the chopped meat, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and chopped garlic. Break apart the meat using a wooden spatula or another cooking utensil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until meat is browned and vegetables are soft. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste.  Stir in the tomato paste until it becomes dark in color, then pour the sauce from the blender. Let the sauce simmer for some time (could be as long as an hour) to get a really flavorful sauce.
  3. Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a rapid boil.  Add spaghetti and cook for about 10 minutes until al dente.  Reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Strain the spaghetti and return to the pot.
  4. Add the reserved pasta water to the skillet.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer for a few minutes.  Add the sauce to the pot of spaghetti and stir in to combine.  Plate and garnish with basil leaves. Enjoy!

 

*Some notes about cooking pasta:

– Never add oil to the pot of water or you’ll get sticky pasta.  Add oil after the pasta cooks to keep it from sticking together.

-Always salt the water.

-Reserve pasta water and add to your sauce to allow the sauce to easily mix and stick to the pasta.

Green Lentil Salad

Who doesn’t like an easy, mindless recipe?  That’s what this lentil salad recipe basically is, plus, it makes great leftovers, is super healthy and tastes delicious!  I think it’s perfect for this season when the weather is warmer since our bodies are looking to be nourished with more cooling foods.

It’s best to prepare your lentils within a couple months of buying them as it’ll make cooking them simpler.  Know that it is best not to add salt or any acidic ingredients to the lentils until the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, as this will result in crunchy lentils even though they’re cooked.  Also, there are different types of lentils, therefore, different cooking methods required, so this recipe specifically calls for green lentils.

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Ingredients

-1 cup green lentils

-2 cups chicken broth (or water)

-1/2 yellow onion, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-1 bay leaf

-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

-1 avocado, cubed

-2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

-1 tablespoon pesto

-1/2 lemon

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon

-Splash of red wine vinegar

-salt and pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Rinse lentils in a mesh strainer making sure to check for pebbles (remove pebbles if you find them).  Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.  Once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 30 seconds or until softened and aromatic.
  2. Add the lentils and bay leaf to the pot with broth or water.  Turn heat up to medium-high.  Once at a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt to the pot the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Remove from the heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes so lentils can soak up the rest of the water.
  3. While the lentils finish cooking, make the dressing by mixing together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small cup or bowl.
  4. To a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce, lentils, feta, avocado, pesto, and the dressing.  Option to serve with a side of toasted pita bread.  Enjoy!

Veggie Coconut Curry

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I crave coconut curry all the time and luckily for me, I have a restaurant just down the street that can satisfy my craving.  But that was before I realized how easy coconut curry is to make.  I pretty much thought about all the vegetables that would taste good smothered in coconut milk (so like, everything) and added in rice to make one of my favorite meals. The other exciting news?  Follow this recipe and enjoy leftovers for days.

Ingredients

-1 small cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces (or use 1/2 a large cauliflower)

-1 German butterball potato, cut into small pieces

-1/2 green bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

-1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

-1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch slices

-1/2 onion, diced

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-1 tablespoon ginger, minced

-1 tablespoons coconut oil

-1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)

-1 can coconut milk (full-fat)

-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (found in a can in ethnic/Thai section at store)

-1 tablespoon tamari

-1 tablespoon rice vinegar

-optional: cilantro or basil for garnish

 

Instructions

1. Make a pot of jasmine rice.

2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add potato, salt, and pepper and cook for five minutes.  Add about 1/4 cup water and place a lid on the pan to steam.  Add more oil if necessary. When the water has evaporated, add more water and allow to steam.  Add cauliflower. Continue to add water and steam until potatoes are slightly tender.

3. Add carrots to the pan and add more salt and pepper. Add more oil if necessary.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes until slightly softened and add the peppers, onions, garlic, and ginger. Add more salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until you can pierce the peppers with a fork.

4. Add the red Thai curry paste to the pan and mix it in with the vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, and sprinkle coconut sugar. Stir to combine over medium heat.  Maintain a gentle simmer (reducing heat if need be) and cook long enough until everything is tender to your liking, about 5-10 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in tamari and rice vinegar.  Serve over rice and add fresh herbs for garnish.

 

Serving Up Sunchokes Two Ways

It’s always a treat to come across an unrecognizable fruit or vegetable at the farmers market.  The last time I was out I spotted these small, ginger-like nubs I had never seen. Those little nubs turned out to be sunchokes, which are also called Jerusalem Artichokes. I’m not sure how common sunchokes are, but I highly recommend experimenting with them if you can find them.

If I had to describe a sunchoke, I can easily say it’s like a cross between an artichoke and a potato, but it looks a lot more like ginger as I mentioned before. Here is a photo:

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These babies are flavorful and hearty, and a vegetable I honestly think most people would enjoy, even skeptics and picky eaters.  Sunchokes can be served as a side dish to a meal, but I enjoyed them in these two recipes:

 

Sunchoke and Roasted Garlic Soup

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Ingredients

-1 lb sunchokes, scrubbed, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

-1 russet potato, medium

-1 yellow onion, sliced

-6 cloves garlic, peeled

-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (adjust if you prefer more mild)

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-6 cups chicken broth or water (use bouillon cube for flavoring if using water)

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toast garlic cloves in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large pot.  When hot, add the sunchokes, potato, onion, crushed red pepper flakes,  nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are lightly browned and softened. Add the garlic.
  3. Add the water or broth, more salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes minimum.  I prefer to keep it cooking for a few hours for an extra flavorful soup.
  4. Process the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender either until smooth or almost smooth, depending on whether you like some chunks of veggies.  Check for seasoning and serve.

 

 

Broccoli di Ciccio and Warm Sunchoke Salad

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Ingredients

-1/4 lb sunchokes, scrubbed, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

-Three handfuls of broccoli di Ciccio

– Pomegranate seeds

-Honey goat cheese (or other favorite goat cheese)

-Handful of almonds, chopped

-Lemon slice

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

-salt and pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix broccoli di Ciccio in a large salad bowl with the seeds, almonds, cheese, lemon, remaining olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss and put in the fridge covered.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. In a bowl, mix sunchokes with about 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove salad from the fridge and combine with the sunchokes. Serve.

Smoky Bacon Potato Leek Soup

Dear bacon lovers,

I have found your new favorite soup.  This dish is one I will long for all Spring and Summer as I wait for the return of soup season. The combination of seasonal vegetables with the smoky spices and bacon create a heavenly aroma that’s equally as delicious.  I guarantee you’ll be hooked.  Serve to your whole family or dinner guests this holiday season.

Ingredients

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-3 pieces bacon, chopped

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into medium-size pieces

-1 large leek or two small leeks, tops removed, white parts sliced width-wise

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-2 dried bay leaves

-1-2 teaspoons paprika (I eyeball it)

-1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika (I eyeball it)

-1-2 teaspoons salt and pepper

-1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon thyme leaves

-4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

-1 tablespoon heavy cream

-chives for garnish (optional)

-croutons or crushed cheesy crackers for garnish (optional)

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I crumbled these on top and they were delicious

Instructions

  1. Heat large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil.  When hot, add onions and bacon, and cook until browned. Add some paprika, smoked paprika, and pepper.

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2. Add the leeks, potato, garlic and thyme.  Sprinkle with more paprika, smoked paprika, pepper, and this time some salt.  Cook five minutes.

 

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3. Pour broth into the pot and add bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until  the vegetables are soft.  Remove the bay leaves and let the soup cool for at five minutes.

 

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4. Transfer to a blender (in batches if necessary) and add the cream.  Blend until smooth. Serve in bowls and garnish.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Stay warm this Fall with my new favorite soup!

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Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

-1 butternut squash

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-1 small Granny Smith apple, chopped

-1 small Gala apple, chopped

-5 thyme sprigs

-2 tablespoons butter, melted

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

-salt and pepper

-4 cups chicken broth

Instructions:

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  

2.  Place squash in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes so that it’s softened and easier/safer to cut.  Remove both ends of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise.  Peel the tough, outer skin and remove the “guts” from the inside of the squash.  Continue to cut the squash into smaller, bite-size pieces.

3.  Place the squash in a bowl with the melted butter and thyme leaves, then generously salt and pepper.  Place on the lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The squash should be tender enough to pierce with a fork at the end of cooking.

4.  When the squash has cooked for 20 minutes, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and optional sugar (generally I wouldn’t recommend sugar, but since this is a lot of soup, it’s hardly any sugar per serving).  Add the apples, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. 

5.  In batches, add the cooked squash and onion/apple mixture to the blender along with a cup of chicken broth with each batch.  Blend until smooth.  Continue to add the squash, onions, apples and broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with thyme.  Enjoy!

Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!