Posts Tagged ‘Henna’

7 Tips for Henna, Amla, and Morrocco Method Shampoos

For the past several weeks, I keep getting nudges to write about hair. Some clients have mentioned hair issues, and I’m sitting here with a mud pie of henna on my head, so here goes. Back in June 2009, I wrote a comprehensive post about all things henna, along with lots of information about natural hair care, hair nutrients and general tips for full, shiny hair. I wanted to reblog it, but over eight years later, I have too many updates for the little reblog box. You can read my original post here. In today’s post, I’ll just add additional things I’ve learned about henna and Morrocco Method over the years.

Please note that anything I say about henna refers only to body art quality, pure henna (Lawsonia) from a reputable source. Do be careful when experimenting with henna. Some companies add toxic ingredients to get all sorts of unnatural colors and effects, still calling their products “henna.”

To provide some background, though, yes, I henna my hair. I started back in 2006, because a mehendi artist told me that henna would tame the crazy, wild knots I used to get on the back of my head. Using henna did tame those knots, but it didn’t change my hair color Continue reading

Personal FAQ’s

This set of questions comes in frequently enough from blog readers, clients and friends that I’ve decided just to address them all here, even though they’re more personal.

How old are you?

I’ll be 43 in May 2016. Yes, I look young for my age. It’s partly my high raw, extremely fresh (often just harvested) and nutrient dense vegetarian diet, partly genes, partly keeping my skin moisturized (I switch among a variety of natural things depending on season), and largely related to lifestyle. When you live more authentically, you look and feel a lot younger.

Is that your natural hair color?

Yes, mostly. I’ve used henna for about 10 years, but not to alter the color of my hair. I use it to coat the knotty strands and make them far lower maintenance, requiring no conditioner and only minimal hair washes per week. I wrote a popular post on all things henna back in 2009 when people also kept asking about my crazy hair. The day of and day after putting a henna mud pie on my head, my hair’s quite a lot redder than normal, but after that initial color burst, the henna color has very little difference from my natural hair color. I just don’t like to brush or wash my hair much, and without henna, those witchy knots get totally out of control with winter scarves!

What do you use for dental care?

Some of you might remember that I used to have lots of trouble with my teeth due to demineralization, low vitamin D, and a spine injury that compromised my digestive nerves, thereby keeping my body from fully extracting nutrients from my food. It was quite the journey to recover and avoid double digit root canals, but I not only avoided the root canals, I popped out most of my fillings and regrew enamel. A huge part of that process included exorcising someone else’s projected emotional issues that had lodged in my teeth. I won’t go into details here, because they’re private, but beware covert hypnosis by someone with bad teeth!! On the physical level, I found the following things very helpful:

I make my own version of ORAMD, with almond oil, peppermint oil and spearmint oil in whatever concentrations I intuit I need. I’m sure the ORAMD is more standardized, and it does work well. I just got tired of buying little bottles for more money than I would spend if I used bulk items to mix and match. Your mileage may vary. Please don’t ask me to recommend oils companies, as I know people who sell from a variety of lines and don’t wish to show favoritism. I’ve also used NOW oils from health food stores, and my gums and teeth responded well, although I’m pretty sure NOW is not normally considered food or pharmaceutical¬† grade.

I drink raw goat milk and eat raw goat milk cheese. It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Indiana outside of a herd share, unless you’re selling it for animal use. I have a very hungry pet tooth! Actually, I need to find a new supplier, as mine is selling their goats and packing up the business and the herd share here is full. Raw cow milk did not heal my teeth. It relieved pain and stopped the progression of cavities, but not until I switched to raw goat milk did my fillings pop out and enamel regrow. For a protocol about using diet to heal your teeth, I highly recommend Ramiel Nagel’s book, “Cure Tooth Decay.” You probably won’t want to try everything in there (fish head soup and organ meats anyone?!), but the book also gives a list of the worst tooth offenders, so you can at least avoid those or modify how you prepare them. It includes a lot of recipes for tooth healing, plus information on healing the gut, as well.

I go through periods in which I drink a lot of herbal infusions, especially nettles and oat straw. I find horsetail gaggable, but if i want really shiny hair or super hard teeth, I will occasionally chug down a horsetail infusion. You can find out about infusions here and here.

To fix my underlying back issue, I found several things extremely helpful:

the BioMat (I use this every day, and I prefer the Mini, since you can move it around without much effort)

Dr. John Sarno’s book, “Healing Back Pain”

the DVD, “Yoga for Scoliosis”

and, much more recently, Dr. Eric Goodman’s “The Foundation Exercises”

I’ve also found as a general rule that the more time I spend in the garden and the less time I spend sitting at a computer, the healthier my back feels. I have hauled literally 10’s of thousands of pounds of wood mulch, compost, leaves, trees and more during the past three years. When I send my former chiropractor from Madison (also a dear friend) photos of our yard, she cannot believe — literally cannot believe — my back allowed me to do any of this, as she saw the shocking spinal x-rays from 2011. Even then, she and her chiropractor hubby thought they must have mixed up the x-rays, because by all accounts, I should not have been able to walk, let alone hike up mountains.

Due to an accident in 2011 that re-aggravated the spine injury from my 1998 car accident, when I first went to my chiropractor friends, I was in severe, chronic, crumple-up-and-silently-scream pain. Since implementing the things mentioned above, my back remains pain free most of the time. I’ve not seen a chiropractor since leaving Madison, even though I used to go two or three times per week. Now, on the rare occasion I overdo something, it just takes a few minutes on the BioMat to recalibrate, or else asking myself what I’m feeling pressured to do that’s off path for me. Once I “realign,” the back pain disappears.

Can I have your recipe for ____?

I don’t generally follow recipes — or, rather, I often follow four or more at a time, adjusting them to my own needs, desires and ingredients. I don’t often write things down while in the kitchen, because I’m usually making a horrific mess! That said, here are some recipes and general tips:

Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry

A quasi-recipe, plus link, for raw vegan holiday feast fare

Summer squash bundt cake

Seer’s Tea (which also helps balance female hormones)

gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free Yule Log

The Five Flavors Principle:

One secret to delicious soups, curries, sauces, pate’s, and stir fries is what David and I call the “Five Flavors Principle.” We add in whatever ingredients for the base, but then we put in at least a small amount of each of the five flavors — salty, sweet, bitter, pungent, and sour. We don’t use refined sugar or salt, so the sweet might be a base of pumpkin/squash/sweet potato, a little fruit like goji berries, a pinch of birch sweetener, honey, blackstrap molasses or maple syrup. Just a little usually does it for those last ones. For salt, we use Real Salt, Himalayan sea salt, miso, wheat free tamari, kombu (a sea vegetable that makes beans more digestible), or homemade pickle juice. We eat loads and loads of dark leafy greens, which usually take care of the bitter flavor. Many herbs also fit that category and add extra health benefits. For pungent, we use homegrown garlic or onions. For sour, we often use a splash of apple cider vinegar, but depending on the dish, sour could also include lemon or lime juice.

For non-Asian savory soups or dishes, often add some cooking sherry for depth of flavor. We can’t decide what category sherry goes into, as it covers a wide range of tastes. The cooking process removes the alcohol.

There’s a lot of wiggle room with the Five Flavors Principle, and it really gets you thinking about the base flavors of your ingredients. David is “The King of Soups,” so even if I make the entire meal, he usually tinkers with the final flavors during the last few moments of cooking. I honestly don’t know exact proportions even when I do the tinkering, because for me, cooking is a highly intuitive process. When you incorporate the five flavors, your food not only tastes better due to the balance of explosions on your tongue, but you end up getting trace vitamins and minerals that your body needs and therefore responds with a feeling of immense satisfaction.

What’s in your vegan alfredo sauce?

White scallop squash (peeled zucchini or yellow squash might also work, but we love the white scallop squash)

extra virgin organic olive oil

nutritional yeast


a bit of hot water to aid blending of the above in a Vitamix or other highspeed blender

Amounts really do vary, so taste test as you go.

Add to a pot and bring to a slow boil, continue to taste test for creaminess and add more nutritional yeast if needed. I usually soak dried porcini mushrooms and use peas from our garden, adding those towards the end, along with a splash or more of sherry and just one splash of wheat free tamari. We salt and pepper to taste at the table and garnish the sauce with chopped fresh parsley and chives, served over quinoa pasta (elbows or penne). It is super yum, and don’t be shy with the garlic!

How long have you been gardening?

I had a small garden for two years in Madison, plus some indoor herbs both winters in a sun room there. I began working on our current Goshen, Indiana garden in April 2013. It’s now a mini-farm with raised beds to deal with juglone (from former black walnut trees) poisoned soil, and planted in a permaculture design that incorporates many, many fruit and nut trees, bee and butterfly friendly flowers, herbs, and annual and perennial vegetables. Late this summer, I also took over the smaller yard (and house) next door. I planted around 1000 spring bulbs this fall, so the whole place should be rockin’ next spring!

Although I’ve had three summers here, I do my best to garden in some form year round. I always grow some kind of herbs in winter, along with cuttings of tender perennial veggies that need to winter indoors. This year, I’ve got a two foot long window box of lettuce sprouts, which I hope will keep us in fresh lettuce all winter, provided we get enough light in our southern window. I’ve also got various hoop houses and row covers outside with chard, kale, lettuce, and spinach. If we have our typically frigid Northern Indiana winter, we won’t get much production out of those in January, February and March, but one of the new raised beds sits in front of the south facing wall of the house next door. I hope some heat bounces back to the covered bed to keep us in spinach most of the winter. I do have indoor grow lights, but the laundry room of the new house has not yet made its transition into gardening prep room.

Do you ever teach gardening classes?

I haven’t yet, but I plan to do so starting next spring or summer (2016). If all goes well, I will complete my permaculture design course this winter, and I’m also looking into herbalist certification. I apprenticed with an herbalist back in 2001-2002 and have taken numerous classes, plus private study; however, I’m not certified to teach or consult. I hope to remedy that soon, as people keep expressing interest in herbs, gardening and permaculture. I’d love to share more tips and instruction, as truly, working with plants and trees is one of the most amazing ways to transform your life and our collective world.

Tradition, Ritual and Finding Meaning

Like so many of my readers, clients and friends, I’ve been walking through my own inner cleansing fires and initiation rituals. Initiation into what? I’m not entirely sure, but humanity itself feels those fires, too, as formerly reliable systems fall apart. I finished listening to Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” on tape and moved onto a lecture series called “Religion, Myth and Magic: The Anthropology of Religion,” this time on CD. Last night and this morning, I heard the lectures on ritual — its function, effects, and the intended and unexpected outcomes from ritual in our lives. The information reminded me of a deeply human longing to create meaning and order in our lives, both as individuals and as a group.

In times of intense paradigm shifts, “mindless” rituals may seem outdated or silly, but as life shifts from one state to the next, our souls long even more strongly for ways of marking change. Most people remain somewhat fragmented, with disconnects between what the mind and heart may “know” and what subconscious or emotional resistance may accept. Finding and performing rituals — whether old and comforting or new and initiatory — can enable soulful transitions from limited ways of thinking/being to more expansive states of freedom and joy.

Ritual tends to get a bad rap in Western society. I know so many “recovering Catholics” who bristle at anything that smacks of incense, Mass or “religious programming.” I also know people who consider the concept of ritual as mere superstition and proof of an undeveloped rational side. Still others fear the idea of ritual, immediately jumping to visions of Satanic sacrifice or Illuminati mind control. Yes, those in the highest halls of government, finance and religion absolutely know and utilize the power of ritual; however, that doesn’t make the nature of ritual “evil.” Ritual is a tool, the effectiveness of which depends on the intent and concentration of the one(s) wielding the tool. Neutralizing or co-opting the power of ritual in Western society has worked to remove this powerful tool from “intelligent,” “non-superstitious,” “good” people who long for better lives and a kinder planet.

Can we create better lives and a kinder planet without ritual? Sure. It’s a tool, not the tool. But denying our souls the satisfaction of symbolic movement across important thresholds may contribute to an underlying anxiety about whether or not “it” is really happening. We can take our pick on the meaning of “it,” anything from personally improved health or finances to ushering in and anchoring a New Golden Age of cooperation and planetary rebirth. Allowing ourselves symbolic markers of change gives the underlying emotional/doubter self something tangible to nurse on as more visible changes manifest in our outer world.

We hear lots of talk about “becoming the change” or “change begins within,” but what happens when we want change, long for change, know we must change, but find ourselves paralyzed by fear of the unknown? We get the push-pull, one-step-forward-two-steps-back, quantum-leap-False-Flag, inner and outer conflict of our world right now. Can we move through this period without ritual? Absolutely, we will move through it one way or another. The Old World is on a crash course for destruction, and creation always follows. That’s a lot of Sturm und Drang, though.

Those of us who long for a gentler emotional ride, may want to dust off ritual as an effective tool in pacifying inner emotional conflict so that our vibrations can harmonize with those things we truly do desire to manifest in our lives and world. Ritual need not be elaborate. It can be as simple as bringing consciousness to a hot shower, imagining the water washing away worries and stress.

I use henna to de-tangle my knotty/naughty hair, applying it every two months or so since early 2007. It doesn’t alter my natural hair color much, since my hair spontaneously turned quite red when I moved to Monterey, CA in 2007, but each henna application brings me back into the magical space of self-nurturing. Henna is associated with the Goddess Lakshmi, goddess of abundance, but it also has deep connection to women’s rituals of childbirth and marriage. I don’t know what’s in henna, but I swear those mud pies on my scalp do some kind of neurochemical mojo on my brain, like a deep inhale of peace and calm. I have now henna’d so many times in so many locations that the brewing of tea, soaking of henna, showering, application, waiting, rinsing and blow drying (in case of drips) has become its own consistent ritual transcending time and space. I also deeply moisturize my face, neck and ears, so the henna won’t stain that skin, and I spend the waiting time in quiet contemplation or soul-supportive activities.

In addition, I henna and listen to sacred chants while doing yearly tax prep so that I can infuse such an unpleasant, patriarchal control grid with all the gentle strength and fluid femininity of the Goddess. With henna on my head and chants in my mouth, taxes become “playing with numbers,” an energy only one step away from mystical numerology. If you monitored my feelings about taxes at other times, you’d recognize the power of my henna ritual! It transforms my attitude when I need that most and allows me a sense of humor in how I choose to direct that money. Remember, money is energy, and we can charge energy with powerful intentions. ūüėČ Ritual, with its focus and its injection of the sacred, amplifies that power.

We can use ritual to prepare us for or to enhance any task or situation. Elevating something we dread as a meaningless pain in the @$$ to something akin to an initiation ritual or an act of devotion can help us to reclaim emotional power over the circumstances of our lives. The devotion need not have anything to do with the actual task. We assign the meaning to the task. Bhakti yoga, for example, is the yoga of service, with an emphasis on deep, heartfelt compassion through chanting the many names of the Divine. I apply it to my tax prep, but it doesn’t stop there. The heart of most spiritual traditions emphasizes service to others as a means of connecting to Divine Love in action. In the Christian tradition, the idea of feeding each person as Christ or entertaining angels unawares, provides a way of adding deep meaning to the simplest acts. In Buddhism, the Mindfulness tradition brings the sacred into the realm of the ordinary. Ultimately, reclaiming the power of ritual helps us to realize that each thought/attention, each decision, each action, potentially holds something larger and more beautiful than the mundane. As we honor and infuse our lives with deliberate beauty, meaning and infinitude, we heal our souls.

And when we heal our souls, we heal the world. Some people seem more drawn to ritual than others, but don’t know where to begin. Thanks to Tania Marie for the following quote from

Celtic: “In the Celtic tradition Hawk empowers a person to seek out their ancestral roots and to examine in depth that which is positive (so that it may be integrated into a person‚Äôs life) and that which is limiting (so it can be released). Tradition is only worth honoring when it supports joy and fulfillment in one‚Äôs life! In this tradition Hawk also supports the solar side as stated above, helping a person to move forward in life and to seek out great quests to embark upon.”

If a particular tradition draws us to participate, our soul may be longing to reclaim parts it left in previous lifetimes while practicing those rituals. Exploring may not mean conversion, but rather reminding of forgotten parts. Other people may find the work of Thomas Moore helpful for “Care of the Soul.” Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach has become a classic for bringing the sacred back to ordinary life. Decorating with the seasons, gardening, harvesting, painting, cooking or any other creative or generative act can take on ritual importance. So can honoring the dead and that which has passed (or is passing) away. In a world of rapid change, and with an awareness of how emotions affect the Law of Attraction, we can support ourselves in positive changes by finding ways, however tiny, to add meaning, beauty and soul to our lives.

Many Blessings!

Starting Thanksgiving Early

I just took a much needed day off! Yes, I had a weekend getaway last week at Bodega Bay, but that was a working, brainstorming, manic-writing kind of weekend in a relaxing location. Today … now that was a day off.

It actually began last night with some henna action on my hair. Something about that warm, goopy mess of chai tea, paprika and henna just makes my brainwaves slip right into relaxation mode. While the henna did its thing, I watched two Netflix instant downloads: Management and Bickford Schmeckler’s Book of Cool Ideas. Maybe it was the relaxation talking, but I really enjoyed them both. I rinsed out the henna, dried my hair and slept blissfully well.

This morning I awoke, turned a dream into a fictional dream sequence, and watched another movie: Step Up 2: The Streets. OK, closet confession here: I love dance movies, especially street dance and Bollywood. It’s a little embarrassing just how much I love such movies. Also embarrassing: the fact that I then love to “show my moves” to my hubby for several days afterwards.

Yes, I took many, many years of ballet, tap and jazz, and I spent my fair share of time dancing into the wee hours of the morning with my restaurant buddies when I waitressed my way through college. But in elementary school and (ahem) beyond, it was all about the break dancin’. I used to do that stuff until my double-joints cracked backwards. Anyway, this morning provided a wonderful trip down memory lane as poor Stephen witnessed renditions of “the moonwalk,” “the banana” and some bizarre moves I learned by osmosis just today! OK, I have officially outed myself. ūüôā

Then, my friend Shana called to see if I might love a jaunt to Cafe Gratitude and a trip to the Sonoma County Coast, in this case, Jenner. Um, was that a rhetorical question? She picked me up and we went to Cafe G where it was 2-for-1 wheat grass shots. Who knew four ounces of wheat grass could be so much fun? Followed by a sushi bowl full of kale and kim chi? Followed by a miraculous pecan pie, aka I Am Perfect?

It was bliss. Followed by more bliss as we drove along the Russian River all the way out to the pristine sea of giant boulders and seaspray. We arrived just in time for sunset.

This was such a pleasant day that it has officially inspired me to begin Thanksgiving two and a half weeks early. Here’s my gratitude list so far:

1 ) I am so thankful that we live in a world where I can pick out a movie while wearing nothing but pajamas and a shower cap over a henna muddy head, download the movie, and when I’m done watching it, download another … and another … all for $9.95 a month. I remember when we had to go to the actual movie theater or Blockbuster. We take such things for granted, but today I’m feeling the love for online movies.

2 ) I am grateful for NaNoWriMo, because this insane quest to write so many words this month made me realize way sooner rather than later that I’ve been trying to squeeze two full books into a single novel. I now have plot, character and themes for books 2 and 3 of the Schizandra Series. If I hadn’t pushed myself to keep writing when I hit the wall, I might not have noticed that little glitch for months. Book 2 seems much more manageable now, and I’m really excited to write book 3!

3 ) I am grateful that I have a husband who loves not only the intuitive, psychic, coaching, writing and energy work I do, but who actually enjoys my spontaneous a.m. dance recitals in his office. And if he’s faking that enjoyment, then I’m even more grateful because he encourages me to be me no matter how old or young or silly or amazingly rhythmic I look doing it. ūüėČ

4 ) I am grateful for my friends, who are always up for an adventure, experimenting with raw food goodies, juice and/or fascinating conversation. I am truly blessed to have so many diverse, compassionate and high vibe people in my life.

5 ) I am grateful that we live in Sonoma County with its unique access to stunning coastlines, open space, misty seascapes, redwoods, and more raw food restaurants than I can count. OK, normally, I can count higher, but once I start eating those desserts, I’m too blissed out to care. We have one: whichever one I happen to be eating in, and I’m so thankful that I momentarily forget just about anything and everything else. Now THAT is gratitude. ūüôā

6 ) I am grateful for raw cacao. This may seem redundant to number 5, but au contraire, raw cacao deserves its own spot in my pre-T-Day gratitude list. Because raw cacao fuels happy, open hearts, and novel writing and just about every other fun thing I can imagine. Breakfast not only tastes better with chocolate; it feels better with chocolate; and we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The more cacao the merrier in my book, especially during NaNoWriMo.

7 ) I am grateful that people continue to send me such generous and supportive feedback on my writing. Stephen still calls me “the hardest working lazy person” he’s ever met. Truth is, I may be a Lazy Raw Foodist, but I pour my heart and soul into my books, especially my fiction. Thank you for noticing, and thank you for asking (so often) about Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar (book 2). I joke about the pressure of a 9-part series, but I honestly feel honored people want to read that many novels by me. Really, truly: thank you.

8 ) I am grateful that Cafe Gratitude’s having a FREE Thanksgiving meal on T-day and that they need volunteers. Another little outing of myself: I totally love waitressing, always have. Eating a raw vegan Thanksgiving feast and then serving food to others as a pseudo-waitress? I didn’t think I could top last year, but this one might just win.

9 ) I’m grateful that I get to teach a combined Reiki Level 1 and 2 class next Saturday. I love sharing Reiki with people, and this intensive class is particularly fun and rewarding to teach.

10 ) I am grateful to be alive and thriving after a brain injury destroyed the life I knew. November 6, 2009 marked the 11th year anniversary of the neuropsychological tests that showed a 40+ IQ drop and confirmed in an irrefutable way just how disastrously injured my poor brain really was. At the time, recovery looked unlikely.

From where I sit now, every day’s a miracle. I love my life! I have so much more freedom, joy, clarity and love than I ever had pre-injury. I feel smarter, quicker and more intuitive now than I ever did before … and I’m living my dreams. Shortly before my 1998 car accident, I set an intention to write a novel. Not nine novels. Just one. And you know what? When I started writing, I found that I had nothing at all to say. The day of my accident I asked the universe to rectify that situation. I asked for more freedom, joy, clarity and love so that I’d not only have something to write about, but something remarkable to live for. It took awhile for it all to fall into place, but the universe delivered.

Happy Thanksgiving Both Now and Later! Blessed Be.

Vegan Friendly Buffets and My Enchanted Office

I’m sitting in flannel p.j.’s in my “garden” office with its antique armoire, black and white Wizard of Oz photo, multi-colored rug,¬†giclee print¬†by Tania Marie, and sheer-red floral-and-colorful striped curtain-covered file cabinet. I’ve got a giant retro-French-looking fabric wall hanging behind me, floral lamp shades and floral chair on either side of me,¬†glass desk in front of me, and a head full of goopy henna. Meanwhile, my living room’s¬†covered in¬†piles of receipts as I make final calculations for my accountant (due tomorrow morning). The¬† Fall chill’s rolling in tonight, and¬†my¬†office feels¬†like an especially cozy getaway¬†with its lavender sprigs and Lemurian Seed Crystals.

I’ve got a dandelion-chai/tulsi tea-fig-apple-chia smoothie in my belly and no doubt on the corners of my mouth. The henna needs another hour to work its magic, and something tells me those recipts will still be there when I walk back out. Life is good. What better time to muse and blog about the finer things of Fall?

I can’t promise a long entry, but a few things have caught my attention lately. For one,¬†I’ve noticed that I am always writing about how much I love raw food! LOL, I really do love raw food, and in Sonoma County we’re spoiled with not just Cafe Gratitude, but also the Petaluma Raw Food Potluck and Seed Restaurant. But we also have some wonderful vegan and raw-friendly spots, where “normal” folks can dine with us. I’d like to highlight three Santa Rosa buffets for which I have immense gratitude: Govinda’s (a.k.a. Gaia’s Garden); Fresh Choice at the Santa Rosa Mall; and Fresh China at the Coddingtown Mall. They’re all all-you-can-eat …¬†which always warms¬†my little tummy with glee.

Govinda’s (soon to become Gaia’s Garden)

1899 Mendocino Ave in Santa Rosa

(707) 544-2491

I will be forever grateful to this restaurant because it has gotten my hubby actually requesting salads! Govinda’s offers vegetarian and vegan food, usually Indian-inspired, along with a generous salad bar. Each day they offer four types of greens: spinach, romaine, mixed spring greens, and mixed green and red lettuces. Toppings range from mung bean sprouts to chick peas, olives (canned),¬†fresh grated beets, tomatoes (always super fresh), cucumbers,¬†shredded carrots, purple cabbage and some other veggie and cheese¬†toppings that I’m¬†probably forgetting.¬†House soup is a split pea vegan dahl (quite tasty) and¬†one other¬†soup that varies by day. They offer a veggie or vegan entree (hot), one or two vegan desserts, and homemade bread. They also have one (usually) vegan curry, brown rice, and¬†steamed veggies, every single day.¬†I don’t eat in¬†here a lot myself, due to the¬†hubby’s enjoyment of their salads to go. I have been known to leave with four giant containers full of salad, along with ample amounts of his favorite tofu dill salad dressing and some soups, all balanced precariously in my former waitress hands.

Since leaving with soup and salad costs only $1.00 more than leaving with just a salad, I occasionally get the extra soup and eat it myself. (I have eaten high raw, not 100% raw¬†since early 2009–mostly just so that I can eat cooked food. When my diet got really clean, I found I could no longer tolerate even tiny amounts of cooked anything. The freedom loving me remedied that restriction by s-l-o-w-l-y adding back in bits of cooked foods.)

Anyway, Govinda’s is good. Tasty. Simple. Kind of a “granola” vibe. The owner can talk about the 60’s or Mercury Retrograde if you like that sort of thing. I also understand they serve great chai, although I’ve never tried it myself. ūüôā

Fresh Choice

1018 Santa Rosa Plz
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-6399
(707) 525-0912

This one completely surprised me! Someone at Blockbuster heard me lamenting that Govinda’s was closed on Sunday’s and that I couldn’t capitalize on Stephen’s craving for a salad bar. She recommended Fresh Choice in the Santa Rosa Plaza. I have to admit feeling skeptical, but¬†wow. The salad bar is seriously like a block long. They have mostly organic and local veggies, including some¬†unusual finds like daikon sprouts, heirloom tomatoes¬†and banana squash, none of which I have ever seen at another salad bar.¬†They label everything with little symbols so you can easily see what’s vegan, low sodium, vegetarian, etc. It’s all you can eat, and if you go during off hours, you get a discount. In addition to copious amounts of salad, they offer vegetarian soups, meaty soups, meat or fish add-ons, desserts and a pizza bar. None of the desserts or soups were vegan when I’ve eaten there, but the huge salad bar makes that OK, IMO. It’s cafeteria style and not as homey as Govinda’s, but you’ll find just about any type of¬† topping or type of salad you can imagine. I particularly appreciate their commitment to local and organic foods.

Fresh China

286 Coddingtown Ctr
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-3506
(707) 527-6444

I really love this place! Of the three listed, it offers the least raw, but I still leave feeling uber-nourished. The owner gets really excited about vegan, organic foods. Every time I go there, I feel like a celebrity as they point out the day’s organic offerings, usually a mix of brown and wild rice, some type of steamed winter squash, Swiss chard, and sometimes the salad greens and cabbage. As the name implies, everything tastes very fresh, with a Chinese flair. They serve a popular dim sum, which I’ve never (in my life) tried, so I’m not the one to comment on that, but they also have a Mongolian-type grill line where you can build your own stirfry. In the stir-fry line, meat-eaters can choose organic chicken or other meats. They also offer mung sprouts and about ten different chopped veggies, including zucchini and cilantro. They use no MSG in anything, and if you want gluten-free they can easily accommodate that as well. I’ve only tried a tiny bit of the stir-fry, but the one I built was yummy with its ginger lemon sauce.

My favorite part of Fresh China is the salad and hot bar. I like to get a giant plate of fresh greens, put a scoop of organic brown/wild rice, a big scoop of spicy, enzyme-laden kim chee, and a couple slices of steamed squash. Sometimes I add some organic Swiss chard (raw) on top. It feels like a macrobiotic feast. I used to love 100% raw foods, and I still do, but sometimes my body just enjoys a simple, very low-fat, low-glycemic meal. Fresh China gives me that in a friendly environment with non-caffeinated tea, to boot. I love supporting people who take such pride in their organic foods, and with the buffet-style, I can eat this one big meal at lunch and only need a small smoothie on either end of the low-cost day.

So … there’s¬†a little love for some other Sonoma County restaurants.¬†My henna has set; my mind feels zen; and I’m ready to rinse. Thanks for stopping by.

Henna for Hair

I just finished teaching an all-day Reiki Master Teacher certification workshop. Congratulations to the new Reiki Masters! We had a wonderful, information- and sharing-packed day, and one of the stranger observations was that occasionally my hair “turned” a different color during class. Purple, actually. Just for a few moments when I was talking about certain esoteric things. Did the sun hit it an odd way? Perhaps. Were the students seeing my aura? Maybe. That often does happen during Reiki classes. Once last year I was teaching a class on Atlantis and the students swore my hair momentarily turned blue.

I don’t have a “logical” explanation for any of this, since the lighting didn’t change in those moments, but I do get a lot of questions about my hair. People want to know how I get it to grow so long, how it stayed so healthy when we lived in the desert, what color IS it? Do I dye it? Do I curl it? Why is it straight on some days and super-wavy on others? Do I blow it dry? After class, I decided to blog-surf and saw that Kristen of¬†had a recent post about going back to her natural brunette hue. Since I’ve felt nudged to post about hair for a few months and haven’t, her post, combined with the multiple class discussions about my weirdly illuminated hair convinced me that it was time to share a few things.

Laura Bruno in San Francisco

Laura Bruno in San Francisco

1 ) Yes, I use henna on my hair, but no, that’s not really why it’s red. I always had some red in my hair. My dad was a carrot top for the first two years of his life, and I must have inherited some of that natural coloring. Traditionally, though, my hair has always grown in extremely light blonde, then blended into a brownish-red.

I’ve always had a¬†problem with knots. Not little tangles: big, huge, struck by lightning, scary witch’s knots. A friend in Reno advised me that I could curb some of the craziness by using henna, so I tried it in December 2006, dreaming of red-headed bliss. It did tame the knots, but my haircolor looked exactly the same as pre-henna. Nothing happened on the color frontier.

In February 2007, my now-ex-husband and I moved to Monterey, CA from Reno. The next morning, he said, “Woah, did you dye your hair last night?”

“No, why?”

“Go look in the mirror.”

When I did, I had flaming red hair. My skin color also looked several shades lighter. I thought it might be from the salt in the air, but it stayed red even when we returned to Sedona in October 2007.¬†It took me quite a while to get used to this overnight¬†shift of both skin tone and hair color, but eventually I did, and eventually the knots returned in all their witchy grandeur. I figured why not use henna again, since it really couldn’t get much redder? And so I did.

I still do every 4-8 weeks, depending on my mood or the level of knottiness. Using henna has meant I no longer go through 4-5 giant bottles of conditioner every month. I also like that it temporarily makes my hair feel thicker. (The reason it tames knots is because henna coats the hair shaft, plumping it up while conditioning it at the same time.) Ever since Monterey, my hair has become like a personal mood ring. It does seem to change color (by other’s observations). If you use henna, it can definitely reflect more red in direct sunlight, and mine does that, but I can’t really count henna as the sole explanation for why sometimes my hair looks brown and then I get really happy and it suddenly looks red. Or purple. Or blue. ūüôā

2 )¬†Besides henna, what else do I¬†do to care for my hair? Um, not much. I’m not a¬†big brusher.¬†I used to cry when my dad brushed my hair out as a girl, and old habits die hard.¬†Back when I was traveling a lot, I once found my brush in my suitcase. It had sat there for 3 weeks and I hadn’t even missed it. I didn’t even notice it was gone! When I do brush, I use a wooden, flat Aveda brush, and I never brush when my hair’s really wet. I finger comb, do nothing, or wait until it’s mostly dry.

I don’t use a blow dryer unless I’m running really late or if I have recently henna’d and not gotten all the goop out of my hair. In that case, it can drip orange for a couple washes, so I will sometimes blow dry the ends to avoid having to clean up from the drips.

3 )¬†How do I keep my hair from breaking off? I’m sure the henna helps. I am also currently using shampoos by the Morrocco Method. They’re pricey and somewhat heavily fragranced with essential oils, but overall I like them. They are 100% raw and 100% vegan and natural, so I feel like it’s totally non-toxic hair care.

The shampoos don’t lather like regular shampoo, though, and I’ve been told by people who switched from more toxic products that they almost get the “no-poo” hair effect of having extremely greasy hair until their hair adjusts. I didn’t have that problem, but I have noticed that my hair does kind of clump together more, almost like it wants to curl into ringlets or big waves lately. I brush it more frequently since switching shampoos because I don’t want it to clump out and look greasy.

I don’t know if¬†the clumping curls come¬†from the Morrocco Method shampoos or from my many months of massive doses (6-10 grams / day) ¬†of MSM. David Wolfe claims that MSM makes hair curlier, and I have to say I always had stick straight hair, but over the last few years and especially the last few months, it’s gotten much wavier.

4 ) How often do I wash my hair? Definitely not everyday. I usually go between 2-4 days between washes. In the desert it’s closer to 4; on a humid week, it will be closer to 2. The Morocco Method has all those essential oils in it, so hair doesn’t get stinky even when it still looks clean. Before Morocco Method, I just used to spritz a bit of lavender water or a little essential oil on my hair on the 2nd or 3rd day.

5 ) What about diet? Well, as I mentioned above, I currently take a lot of MSM. I take it for removing scar tissue, but I believe it has strengthened my hair and made it shinier. I follow a 90-100% raw vegan diet. Once in a blue moon, I’ll eat a bit of bee pollen. I take the Vitamin Code raw vitamins, B-12, chia seed in my smoothies, Jarrow’s Vegan Bone-Up, and lots and lots of greens, Vitamineral Green and currently also spirulina. If I remember, I sometimes take a little swig of the gluten-free, yeast-free Floradix because I¬†eat so many antioxidants that sometimes my iron gets a bit low unless I’m on a cacao kick. I’m sure¬†all of these things contribute to healthy, fast-growing, shiny¬†hair.

6 ) What about hair loss? People ask me about this a lot, especially people new to a raw diet. Hair loss can come from lots of sources, including a lack of B-vitamins, especially B-5 (Panthenol) and B-12, since a deficiency of B-12 or folic acid could contribute to anemia. The scalp does not like anemia. Your hair is considered a luxury item in terms of cell nutrients. If you have anemia and hence low oxygen levels, guess what’s not getting leftover O2?

Hair loss can also occur due to vitamin A (beta-carotene) toxicity. Yes, on a plant-based diet, most people will not get too much viatmin A; however, as I explained in The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide and this post, it does sometimes happen with the use of lots of superfoods. Superfoods are “super” because they have huge antioxidant profiles. Occasionally, people get so high in beta-carotene that the liver starts acting like someone who’s on Accutane. Skin can dry and crack; hair can fall out. In big clumps. I’ve had this happen myself. It does grow back. You just can’t keep up those levels of beta-carotene indefinitely.

Sometimes hair falls out because of detoxification. Again, it will usually grow back as the detox clears. Sometimes hair falls out due to hormonal imbalance. This can occur in both men and women. Male pattern baldness almost always has a hormonal component. Many men find that when they start taking saw palmetto for their prostate health, their hair loss slows. A nice perk!

There are literally hundreds of things on the market promising faster growth and slower hair loss. Some work, some don’t¬† Some treat the root cause of problems; some work on the surface; a few are probably quite toxic. I’m not a doctor. Not a hair expert. I’m¬†just sharing some things I’ve observed:

Essential fatty acids tend to help; MSM helps; hemp protein usually helps; Sun Warrior protein (highly absorbable) seems to help; Morrocco Method shampoos supposedly stimulate hair growth (my hair does seem to be growing faster, but this is totally anecdotal on my part; check out their site for photos); checking beta-carotene levels helps; staying on top of B-12, B-5, folic acid and iron helps; getting hormone levels checked can sometimes help; examining what hair represents for you gives some nice clues as to what’s happening and why.

7 ) What about cowlicks? Yep, got ’em. They’re crazy. They stick straight up. If you find something that works, let me know! LOL, my hair gets really crazy sometimes, and aside from changing my part, which only sometimes works, I haven’t found anything that helps. You’re on your own on this one.

8 ) OK, back to henna: isn’t it incredibly messy? Yep, and you’ll smell like hay or grass unless you mix it with essential oils or some kind of tea. I don’t know why, but I actually like that it’s a big, green goopy mess that I leave on for 4 hours. It creates a whole ritual and I know I’ll have that day to myself. It does take a long time to wash out. It does make your bathroom a big mess (but at least that means mine will get a good scrub down!), and it does change most people’s hair color.

9 ) Will henna turn my hair green? Not if you haven’t used artificial coloring or bleach on your hair, but if you have, then yes, it might.

If you have artificial coloring in your hair you need to cut it out, grow it out or otherwise wait 6-8 weeks until you have no fake dyes prior to henna-ing your hair. Please don’t mess with this; I have heard nightmare stories. I would not use a non-natural shampoo anymore anyway, but because of my henna, it’s not even an option on the table. I’m OK with red, purple or blue, but I don’t want green hair! You’re also not supposed to touch the henna with metal. I’ve messed up and accidentally used a metal spoon without incident, but the instructions are so insistent that I don’t recommend it. I honestly don’t know what might happen. I just usually remember to use a wooden spoon or plastic spatula.

The henna powder itself is green, but when warmed with water or tea, it begins to stain the hair shaft a reddish color. You can purchase different “colors” of henna, but really, there’s only one true henna and that’s red. All other “colors” of henna are actually dyes mixed with henna powder. Some may be natural, plant-based dyes, but if it says it only contains henna, but it will turn your hair black or brown or strawberry blonde, then you can bet there’s something else in the package.

10 ) What about black henna? Products marketed as black henna are extremely toxic and should not be used. If you want to turn your hair black using natural henna, you need to henna first and then follow it with an application of indigo powder. This will create a shiny black look. It is NOT the same as black henna.

11 ) Won’t henna stain my hands? Yep. Wear gloves. Henna has been used for thousands of years in the ancient art of mehndi. The red brown dye can create beautiful designs on the hands, feet, pregnant belly or anywhere else on the body.

Henna doesn’t adhere well to oily skin, so if you want to avoid staining yourself, use some kind of coconut oil, olive oil or other oil around the hairline, over the ears and on the neck. For the hands, you really need gloves. If you mix oil on your hands, the oil gets in your hair and the henna may not adhere well to the hairshaft. If you don’t wear gloves but do oil your fingernails, they will still probably turn orange because they’re so dry. Whereas the orange on your skin will eventually wash off, you’ll likely have orange nails until they grow out. It’s not terrible, but it does happen.

12 ) Is there a spiritual reason to henna? Traditionally, yes, henna is associated with the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance and prosperity. Ancient Egyptians used henna in rituals and for sacred body adornment. Henna is mentioned in the Bible — both for its intense fragrance and for its use by pre-Christian Jews. People today use henna during birth ceremonies, baby showers to honor the coming child, at yoga studios, to inscribe sacred symbols or chants on the body, and just for general nurturing.

I don’t know what’s in henna in terms of nutrients, but I do feel like using it alters something in my brain — in a good way. I feel more relaxed and receptive to intuitive perceptions (yes, even more than usual!); I do tend to make a ton of money the whole week after I henna my hair (it’s like money arrives in huge chunks all that week);¬†I feel more mischievous in a fairy way; and overall, I just feel more in tune with my “goddess” self. The last observation may be because in terms of other self-care and fussy things, I’m kind of lacking, so my henna represents a conscious acknowledgment and celebration of that part of myself. In any case, yes, henna¬†can be considered a spiritual practice.

13 ) I can’t think of any other frequently asked questions about my hair, but please feel free to ask away. I frequently hear from clients in Medical Intuitive sessions that they would like “better hair.” I’ve listed most of what I know here that works generally. More speicific details really apply in the case of your own personal symbolism of hair.

Many Blessings and Lustrous Locks to you!

Laura Bruno