I'm excited to share these goodies with you! Enter to win amazing health food products! You can earn extra entries by sharing with your friends :) 2 winners will receive boxes full of protein bars, trail mix, superfoods, snacks, teas & more. Products courtesy of Enjoy Life Foods, Manitoba Harvest Hemp, Sunfood Superfoods, Annie's, Go Raw, Lundburg Family Farms, Made In Nature, Kind Snacks, Organic India, Traditional Medicinals.
For those of you who were not at ExpoWest, or who may be wondering: "What IS ExpoWest?" it is an industry expo for natural products including food, supplements, home, pet and body care. It is where companies debut new products, make game-changing deals, and learn, grow and enhance their business. It is also where industry trends are recognized and innovative products and brands receive awards for leading cutting-edge movements such as TruRoots new compostable packaging. This year, ExpoWest featured nearly 3000 exhibitors, and 77,000 attendees! No, I did not visit every booth. Not even close ;) It was an exciting and somewhat overwhelming turnout. I went for meetings with brands and networking in my quest to acquire amazing products to promote on my show. I made some great connections, had quality face time with companies with whom I'd been speaking, and also experienced several delightful surprises! Following are some highlights of my ExpoWest experience and what's next for Sasha's Guilt Free Pleasures (and for you!)
On Saturday, I attended a benefit concert for #justlabelit with Michael Franti, Hosted By Julia Butterfly Hill! It was a powerful night and felt amazing to let go and uplift positive vibes after a week/end of hard work. I love how Michael Franti, much like Naomi Whittel, uses his influence, his words -and his music- to stand up for our rights to empowerment. Here we are on stage together (I'm 5th in from the left) singing "imagine" by John Lennon. Exciting update on the Just Label It campaign just in today: The DARK act was not passed in the senate vote, which would have blocked individual states and corporations from labeling GMOs on packaged foods. Woohoo! I like to think each of us at the concert that night had a significant role in this victory. Power to the people.
And of course it was amazing to meet with some incredible companies producing high-quality wellness products! I made some good deals which I feel proud of, and while I can't yet disclose the names of the companies who'll be sponsoring Sasha's Guilt Free Pleasures, I will say I met with one of the USA's largest organic producers, a vegan cosmetics company, and an up-and-coming green household cleaning company to not name a few ;) And you can find out by watching the show next month as we'll be filming new episodes starting March 28th!
And one of the very best moments of my trip was recapping over lunch with my mom, who is my right-hand woman on this journey of producing Sasha's Guilt Free Pleasures. Working on this has brought us together in a whole new way, and for that I am truly grateful! After lunch we took a walk with Ananda Lila to her local dogpark, smelled the blooming flowers and found some exotically tasty strawberry tree fruit!
Self care is almost a new buzzword, especially among women who have been "selfless" caretakers in society for generations. A whole new culture of self care is emerging, and science confirms it's validity with evidence that self care is a viable form of health care. Self care isn't about luxuriant spa treatments or demanding beauty regimens. It's doing the things only we can do for ourselves: being aware of our wellness needs, and making sure that our needs are met.
Self care is a luxury in itself, because we're now able to take care of our whole-being wellness so we can be healthy and happy at work and in life. Rather than simply maintaining our health so we can continue to work and put food on the table, as was the reality for previous generations and still is for many in even our own privileged nation. But being a luxury we can "afford" doesn't make self care selfish. In fact, by practicing self care, we can have an even better impact on the world around us. When I'm well-rested for instance, I do my best work, in my best attitude. I'm also inspired and have the energy to reach out and help others beyond my immediate situation. When I practice self care, I have more than enough energy and the excess pours forth unto the world. This is simply my personal experience, so I'll throw some science at ya to back it up.
For one, stress is contagious (you heard that right!). A recent study found that those observing stress in others experienced increased cortisol levels (cortisol = the stress hormone), even when the person they observed was a stranger. While the study didn't monitor what happens if observing someone in a relaxed, happy state, you can at least be sure that bubble bath tonight isn't making someone else feel more stressed tomorrow! And experience and intuition leads me to believe a smile is contagious too! *If someone finds that study, please link it in the comments*. Furthermore, self care practices can lead to better immune function. It's common knowledge that healthy diet and exercise = better health, but what happens in our bodies when we engage in self care? Scientists found in one study that mindfulness meditation increased "left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect" AND increased antibodies to influenza! So for those of you who say "meditation is just doing nothing": I suggest doing nothing more often to uplift your cynical mood and reduce your risk of getting sick this winter :)
So to conclude, there's no shame in relaxing and taking care of your well-being. In doing so, you'll have a positive impact on the health and happiness of those around you. So make some time just for you this week and enjoy a self care session- or two, or three! Have your bath, massage and/or meditation guilt-free and pleasurably.
P.S. a dinner that's nutritious but tastes like candy and practically cooks itself (triple self care win!)
Candy Bowl Dinner - Serves 2
Start by preheating oven or toasted oven to 425 and setting some rice to cook .
Slice a small squash and set aside seeds. rub insides with coconut oil and place cut-side down in a baking dish. Put in oven for about 40 minutes or until skin can be pierced with a fork. Remove pulp from squash seeds and place them in a separate baking dish. Place them in oven for 5-10 minutes. Remove when golden-brown or you hear them popping. Warm coconut oil in skillet. Slice 2 medium beets into 1/2 in thick slices and place in preheated skillet. Cover with a lid. At this point your squash seeds should be done and you can walk away. Read a magazine article, paint your toenails, or give yourself a massage (or better yet, have your parter give you one since you are the one going to all the trouble-or so they think- of cooking dinner!) Flip beets after 15 minutes and re-cover. After 10 minutes, turn up heat on skillet and add thinly sliced yellow onion. chop a small handful of parsley and slice squash into quarters or sixths so that skin can be easily peeled/pried off without and cut into chunks. Serve squash, Beets, onion, parsley and squash seeds on a bed of rice. Sprinkle with generously with Turmeric, moderately with coriander, and just a dash of cinnamon. Drizzle with sesame seed oil (toasted for more flavor, cold-pressed for more nutrition) and apple cider vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and if you dare, crushed red pepper too.