Sacred Scents

 
photo by Francesca Dunham

photo by Francesca Dunham

The use of sacred, vibration-shifting scents has long been a cornerstone of spiritual practice + ritual in indigenous cultures, and a beloved part of my own life. Burning medicinal botanicals and wafting their scent and smoke throughout your physical space not only lends a lovely, grounding scent but also works to clear, attract, and transform the energy of your environment. (More so, science has even found these sacred, medicinal scents to eliminate airborne pathogens.) 

This practice, known as smudging, is one that has the opportunity to be super intuitive, ritualistic, and powerful. Especially when performed with intention and a desire to connect back to one's inner self. Because each scent carries it's own vibration, the properties and purposes of each vary. For that reason, I always keep these three medicinal botanicals on hand, so as to allow my intuition to guide me towards which one my space and spirit are most in need of.

Smugding is an incredibly simple way to make a powerful, positive impact on your space and spirit, and I encourage you to experiment with scared scents in your own life and spiritual practice. 


SAGE | A plant with incredibly purifying and cleansing properties. It's most apt use is to clear out unwanted or stagnant energy. I love lighting sage in the evening as a way to let go of and clear out the energy of the day. Whenever I move to a new home, spend the night in a hotel or new space, and enter into/depart from a situation that feels negative, I smudge sage. I sage my entire home weekly. It's always important to crack open windows and doors when saging a space, so as to allow the old energy to be carried away with the smoke. Simply light your sage bundle, creating a sizable flame, and blow out gently until it begins smoking. Sage your physical space (getting into all the weird little spaces - closets, under the bed, etc.) and the outline of your body, relighting as needed. 

SWEETGRASSTrue to it's name, sweetgrass has a sweet, pleasant aroma when burned, serving as a reminder of Mother Nature's sweet, gentle, and kind spirit. It lends a calming energy and helps to purify the spirit while calling in a sacred presence. I love lighting sweetgrass in the morning, wafting it's sweet scent as I prepare for the day, and before meditation or yoga practice. 

PALO SANTO | Sustainably salvaged from only the fallen branches of the mystical, spiritually-revered Palo Santo tree, this  "holy wood" creates a beautifully grounding scent when smudged. The energy of palo santo is one of attraction and drawing in of positivity. It facilitates a deeper connection with Source, elevates creativity, and uplifts the energy of a space or individual. Another scent I use in the morning and before meditation, and that I especially love when I need an emotional lift. 


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Spiced Carrot Muffins with Rhodiola Pumpkin Butter

 
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In years past, I really resisted the transition from summer to fall. Like no way do I want to say goodbye to a season marked by 8 pm sunsets, impromptu backyard soirees, warm ocean dips, and too much rosé. Though I live in on the beach in South Florida and if anything the weather only gets better in fall, there's an air of fancy-freeness that only summer has. But I'll admit, I'm excited this time around.

This summer wasn't easy for me. I spent a lot of time soul-searching and digging deep and getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Not knowing what's next, but trusting anyways. You know, just doing "the work" of being a human. Even as a yoga teacher, the art of surrendering to what is, releasing control, and trusting the Universe is an ability that doesn't come naturally for this head strong, go-make-it-happen Leo with control issues. So a new season and a fresh transition feel entirely welcomed.

But in the past two weeks, I've really softened into this trusting. (It's about time.) I finally really feel that whatever comes next, is just fine with me. We are, after all, always where we are meant to be, and what is meant for us could never possibly miss our path. Virgo season (which we just moved out of) and fall in general encourage this mentality. Fall signifies a shifting inward and a letting go, making it an especially potent time to slow down, release control, and open your heart.

It's also an equally opportune time to put pumpkin spice in everything and start baking more, so I've embraced that seasonal nudge as well. Look at me, a full-blown fall woman.

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These muffins are everything in way of fall food - warming, spiced, cozy, indulgent - madeimpossibly good for you with brain-nourishing and inflammation-fighting properties and no added gluten or sugar. They can easily be made vegan as well by subbing in a flax-egg. It's one of those recipes that confuses you as to when it should be enjoyed (breakfast or dessert?). The answer is both. 

And while the muffins are totally divine on their own or served warm with a bit of grass-fed butter or melted coconut oil (swoon), I decided to up level the whole situation with a plant-based spiced rhodiola pumpkin butter. Also seemingly indulgent and dessert-like, but equally as nourishing for both brain and body. I included the tonic herb rhodiola for it's ability to elevate mental clarity and creativity, so as to harness all the magic that is this potent fall energy. 

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SPICED CARROT MUFFINS

Makes 8 muffins

½ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 medium ripe banana
¼ cup almond butter
⅛ cup raw honey
1 pastured egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup carrots - grated
1 medium apple - grated
½ cup chopped walnuts (plus extra to garnish)
pinch of pink himalayan salt

PREPARATION | Preheat oven to 375º.

Add all ingredients (excluding carrots, apple, and walnuts) to a blender or food processor, combining until you achieve a smooth and creamy batter. Transfer batter to a large bowl, adding in the walnuts, apple, carrots. Stir by hand until well combined. 

Grease a muffin tin with butter or coconut oil, and fill each cup about ¾ of the way full. Option to top each muffin with a few pieces of walnut. 

Place in oven and cook for about 17-20 minutes. Enjoy warmed or cool, and (hopefully) with some rhodiola pumpkin butter on top. 


RHODIOLA PUMPKIN BUTTER

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups organic pumpkin puree
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of pink himalayan salt
1 tablespoon rhodiola 

PROCESS | Combine all ingredients (excluding the rhodiola) in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes (or until mixture starts to sputter). Reduce to low heat, cover, and let simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove from heat and stir in the rhodiola. Sweetness can be adjusted to taste by drizzling in more maple syrup. 

Enjoy spread over muffins, toast, oatmeal, yogurt, desserts, roasted veg, or anything else you can think of. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and even longer if frozen. 


I love seeing what you create and getting your feedback on recipes! Leave any questions + comments below, and be sure to follow along on Instagram and tag your photos with #SOLFULhealth so I can see and share. xx

 

SOL FOOD, Nº 14

 
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SOL FOOD is a weekly series detailing all the people, places, spaces, reads, objects, and foods that are inspiring, supporting, and fueling my journey at the moment. This short + sweet series was created in response to the enormous list of topics I never get the chance to post about and share with you all. Stop by every Friday for an easy-to-digest dose of inspiration.


The supplement I've been taking for powerful immune and nervous system support. Like the reishi powder you've been adding to your smoothies, but 70x more potent. 

One of my favorite breath work techniques having a much-deserved moment in the press. 

For those of you who reached out after watching my Instagram story: this is the liquid chlorophyll I use and recommend. 

After hearing tons of buzz about it, I finally ordered this face mask and used for the first time last night. Holy wow. My skin has never looked more lustrous. Followed by my longtime favorite serum for clear, inflammation-free skin.

Recently stumbled upon this chic, minimalist, and ethical clothing line and I'm coveting nearly every piece of the collection

Packaged soup that is incredibly clean ingredient-wise, lick-the-bowl-clean delicious, and so impossibly French. Swoon. Found this at my local Fresh Market.

A mineral that, when placed in hot bath water, promises to be more beneficial and detoxifying than an infrared sauna.

An insightful podcast featuring one of my favorite people. A must for anyone interested in wellness.

OBSESSING over this line of unsweetened sparkling teas. 

A candid, no bullshit essay on why you still haven't manifested wealth, and how you can.

 

Digestive Bitters • Urban Moonshine (and a giveaway!)

 
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Years ago, at the recommendation of my TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) practitioner, I began using digestive bitters as a means to ease the digestive discomfort experienced during periods of prolonged travel. Bitters were especially paramount to my well-being during a summer-long trip to Southest Asia, and another spent backpacking through Costa Rica. Still to this day, I won't even leave the house without them. And recently, after a nudge from my very knowledgable herbalist friends at Urban Moonshine, I've now begun implementing bitters into my day-to-day regime. With wild success. My skin is clearer, my energy elevated, and I very, very rarely experience any stomach discomfort.

WHAT ARE BITTERS?

Bitters are the plant extracts of aromatic herbs, barks, roots, and fruit that, upon ingestion, stimulate the digestive system and the release of critical digestive enzymes and stomach acids. They are, as the name implies, bitter to the taste. 

WHY TAKE BITTERS?

For much of human history, our diets were heavy in bitter foods - bitter greens, herbs, roots, and barks. Yet today, we've almost entirely stripped our diets of bitter-tasting foods in exchange for more pleasantly-flavored fare: the sweet, salty, and processed. This makes supplementing with digestive bitters all the more important, as this shift away from bitter foods has created a massive rise in digestive issues. 

Bitters excite, engage, and awaken the digestive system, preparing it for the hard work of breaking down a meal. The vast majority of us suffer from sluggish, imbalanced digestion and experience bloating, gas, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, fatigue, etc. after a meal more often that we probably even realize. It's become such a commonplace symptom in our culture. Digestive bitters, taken before and after a meal, stimulate the digestive system so as to minimize (and in my experience, completely eliminate) any discomfort. Food is more easily broken down, and nutrients are better assimilated.

I have long been in the habit of taking bitters while traveling, when out to eat, or if experiencing any digestive upset. (I swear by them for anything stomach related - hangovers, food poisoning, the flu, whatever.) But as of late, I've been adding a splash of bitters to my usual warmed water with lemon each morning, and then taking a dose before each meal. In this way, I'm continuing to strengthen my digestive system, increase my natural digestive enzyme production, and elevate my overall health.

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BENEFITS

Aside from the obvious digestive benefits, bitters are incredibly nourishing for the body as a whole.

  • Support liver function and detoxification
  • Enhance the clarity, glow, and health of skin
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Ease morning sickness
  • Curb cravings and balance appetite
  • Support balanced cholesterol levels
  • Elevate immunity 

HOW TO USE

Bitters are best taken before meals, and can be used up to six times per day. About ¼ teaspoon is all you need. I usually add this to a bit of water to dilute because, you know, they taste kind of bitter, but feel free to simple drop them on your tongue.

MY FAVORITES

Though the most bitter tasting, Urban Moonshine's Original Bitters are my favorite for every day use, as they are the most potent. I turn to the Chamomile Bitters when I feel nauseous, as these are specifically designed for those moments, along with morning sickness. The Liver Bitters are best when I feel I need a little extra detoxification support, especially in way of my skin. The travel spray doesn't leave my purse. And for those just easing into bitters, I love the Citrus Bitters and Maple Bitters for their sweeter, more mild taste (also more child appropriate!).


GIVEAWAY (!)

Needless to say, I am so thrilled to be able to gift one of you a medley of my favorite Urban Moonshine bitters! To enter the giveaway, simply head to my Instagram and, after you make sure you're following me, 'like' my post, and tag a wellness-loving friend or three . The winner will be announced this Friday, 9/22. 

Also! Would love to hear from you - do any of you use digestive bitters as well? Let me know by leaving a comment below. xx

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Connect with Urban Moonshine on their Instagram, and shop their collection of herbals goods here.