Travel

Ahh … time for forest bathing!

I think everyone has experienced this (am I right?): You have a terrible day (or week, or month), then you go to the woods or your favorite trail and … almost magically, you feel a noticeable lift in your spirits. I’ve experienced this so many times that I truly make an effort now to listen to my inner self when I’m needing to reconnect with the natural world and seek out peaceful “me” time in nature.

I’m not the only one. “Forest bathing,” as it’s called, is an actual, real practice with scientifically measurable health benefits (including reducing stress and depression, lowering blood pressure and upping your immune system). The term is a literal translation of the Japanese term shinrin-yoku. And how wonderful is this: Japan has nearly 50 official Forest Therapy trails.

Elizabeth Weil in the December issue of Vogue writes, “In 1982, the Japanese Forestry Agency put forth the idea that …

Animal-inspired New Year’s resolutions

I’m not really big on New Year’s resolutions, but I appreciate this idea of letting your animals guide you toward healthier, happier living. What better time than in January, when we’re all ready for a fresh start?

Here are five ways our beloved animal companions (especially dogs) can help us achieve our goals in 2015:

1. Live healthy every day: Walking your dog every single day (or even twice a day!) is an easy and fun way to add aerobic fitness to your routine without even realizing it. (Those of you with dogs know what I mean.) And if you’ve always wanted a dog but haven’t yet adopted one, a loyal and enthusiastic (albeit furry) walking partner could be just the motivational boost you’re looking for. In fact, according to the University of Western Australia …

What’s your favorite cookbook?

Historically speaking, I never really enjoyed cooking (unless it was homemade chocolate-chip cookies!). But recently—since changing my diet to include mostly vegan and gluten-free meals—I haven’t really had a choice. I’ve been cooking vegetarian for so many years, but I always paired the veggies with pasta, cheese and breads. After going vegan and gluten-free, I wondered, could I survive on lettuce alone? And secondly, what was I going to eat, anyway?

A total rethinking of my go-to cookbooks was in order. So after much Googling, talking to friends and testing in my own home kitchen, I’ve settled upon my top three veg cookbooks. Here they are, plus four more I can’t wait to try!

1. Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi: Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant in Notting Hill is my favorite place in London! That’s where I first discovered his mouthwatering vegetarian dishes …

The best teas (plus the #1 secret to a perfect cup)

Christmas Eve: a time for good tidings, togetherness and … tea. Yes, tea! Tea may seem an unusual holiday tradition, but for me, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a cozy night in with family and friends. And ever since ditching my daily hot chocolate for healthier tea a few years ago, I’ve become something of a tea enthusiast—and not just on holidays.

I basically drink tea all day long when it’s cold out. Even in the summer, I love my tea in the cool mornings and chilly evenings. In fact, the only thing I love as much as my chocolate is my tea!

My favorites teas come from two companies in particular. I love them not only because their mint and chamomile tea is the very BEST in my opinion (and I have tried many teas!), but also because they are both socially conscious, which I love.

Here are my picks for seven of the best, most truly delicious teas …

Live sustainably, protect habitats

I was stunned recently to hear the following statistic: In order to survive, the United States will need 5.3 planet Earths if we continue using up natural resources at the rate we are now. In the UK, that number is 3.5 Earths, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“Unless we change our lifestyle into a One Planet lifestyle, then we’re going to be in trouble,” says Richard Pope, who serves on the Expert Panel for environmental charity Bioregional’s One Planet Living initiative and has 25 years’ experience in residential master plans, as well as 10 years’ experience in sustainable/green building. “Sooner or later, we’re going to run out of resources if we keep using them at the rate we are now.”

If any of you have taken my sister Kathleen’s animal Reiki classes at BrightHaven Healing Arts Center for Animals, you may have actually had the opportunity to meet Richard—he’s also the co-founder, with his wife, Gail, of the holistic hospice/sanctuary for animals in Sebastopol, California.

Bioregional is hoping to make sustainable living easy, attainable and attractive for everyone. They’re already starting …

Top 10 essentials for your carry-on bag

Dear friends, are you traveling anywhere fun this holiday season? While I’m staying close to home this month, I will be flying to Florida in the new year for my annual class at The C.A.R.E. Foundation. This year’s topic? “Mindfulness With Exotic Animals.” I can’t wait!

Of course, getting to Florida from San Francisco requires a pretty long plane flight. I fly a lot for business these days, so feeling relaxed in flight means packing a well-thought-out carry-on. For me, that means making sure I have the following 10 items, no matter what …

A delicious (and easy!) quiche for veggie lovers

When my sister Kathleen and her daughter, Indigo, came out for a recent visit, I couldn’t wait to surprise her with my ultimate quiche. This special recipe is authentically French: My friend Christelle, who is French, was kind enough to share her mother’s recipe with me. Though I’ve tweaked it over the years, experimenting with different cheeses and fillings, I give all the credit for this delicious quiche to Christelle and her mother. …

On kindness

“Kindness keeps the world afloat.” – Orly Wahba, founder of Life Vest Inside

I find that quote so inspiring. At times, the world feels as if it’s sinking. The news can be so overwhelmingly negative that you forget there are good people out there dedicating their lives to making a difference. Like Orly Wahba, whom I’ve quoted above. And like this newly married couple—they decided to forego a wedding reception and a honeymoon; instead, they are using those funds to travel around all 50 states to do random acts of kindness for animals, children, the homeless and so on. I love it! So inspirational!

Then there is The World Kindness Movement, which is dedicated to spreading kindness on a global scale. It’s such an amazing idea because the thing about kindness is it’s so infectious. Also, it really makes a profound impact in people’s lives.

Even science points to the importance of kindness. …