Category Archives: Season Yourself Anew

Brian’s Story: When you take the initiative of your health

Setting measurable health targets

Setting measurable health targets

Meet Brian Smith. He has been working alongside me at The Gourmet Kitchen for 7 years now. A lot changed and evolved during these years, including an increase in his weight. After reaching 200 LBS he put his foot down and decided to do something. He spoke to me and we charted out a plan.

Firstly he got rid of all the sodas; they were a really big part of his life. Most of his lunche

s consisted of fast food, another habit he did off with. Now his intake consisted of a lot of fiber, through vegetables (added celery), lean protein, fruits, very less carbs and no sugar. He also increased his water intake by a margin. But the most important change- he started riding a bike to work every day. It took him an hour each way but he stuck by this decision and he uses this mode of transport each time he comes to work.

Brian - Dream, Plan, Achieve!

Dream, Plan, Achieve!

As a gesture of encouragement, I promised him salad greens, produce and vegetables for one week if he reached his goal of losing 5 pounds in 10 days. Today he is getting his produce as he has reached his first goal. I think it’s absolutely commendable and he deserves three cheers!

The first step in weight loss is deciding with a certainty that it IS what you want. Once you have made this decision, there is no looking back for you and there is no stopping you. And if you have been procrastinating, THIS is the time to begin! Dream it, plan it and achieve it!

Do share stories of people you know who have achieved or are working towards achieving their health goals.

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BEFORE & AFTER WORKOUTS

Exercise is important -

but what you do before and after can determine your succes!

Here are a few healthy tips that work well for me in my marathon training:

1.  Drink coconut water — dubbed “Mother Nature’s sports drink”images-1

  • Contains the most electrolytes
  • Low calorie & naturally fat and cholesterol free
  • Contains the potassium of 4 bananas
  • Less sugary than sports drinks
  • Perfect form for super hydration

2.  Nutrition

  • 5 things ideal pre-sport nutrition:imgres-2

Low fat

Moderate in carbohydrates and protein

Low fiber

                                             Contains fluid

                                 Familiar and well-tolerated food

  • For instance, small hand full of almonds, fruit, sweet potato or spoonful of nut butter

3.  Create short and log term goals — success depends on it  imgres-4

  • Be realistic — you can’t leap the lake — start out small
  • Short term goal – I trained for 4 months to do my first 10K in May
  • Long term goal – half marathon in October

4.  After workoutstretching-exercises

  • Stretch – a must, must, must for the body — consider it as part of your workout, both in regards to the time necessary in the day and to decrease the risk of injury
  • Foam roller works as a great tool in stretching
  • If you stretch prior to workout, keep it very gentle — your muscles are cold

5.  Equipmentimgres-3

  • Buy and use the proper equipment — this not an area to compromise
  • For me with running, the proper shoes are a must 

 

Happy Healthy Exercising!

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PLANT YOUR SEEDS TODAY

Do you procrastinante?  Worry about failure?  Give up easily?  Stop before you start?

I know I did.   Everything from losing weight, finding time to exercise, all the way to doubting my abilities to grow a garden.

BUT I WAS WRONG!  Everything we need to achieve our dreams is already within us.  We have all the tools we ever need right inside us.  Tools to nurture our DREAMS.   To put a PLAN in motion.  To ACHIEVE amazing benefits.

Dream, Plan, Achieve is the basic message I want to share with my journey.

I’ve learned life is like a garden.

That each goal, achievement, or process starts from a very tiny seed that must be sown and nurtured over the appropriate time necessary, before the fruit of one’s efforts are ready for harvest.  I learned this by actually planting a garden!images

As I said, I never thought I could grow a garden….that’s for farmers, green thumbs and people with more time than I have.   Yet, as a professional chef and lover of healthy eating, I dreamed of picking and eating delicious food at my fingerprints.  I dreamt of walking into my backyard to harvest my meal.  Food that is rich, live, and organic, picked at the moment of perfection.

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Seed-sized dreams

 

 

My garden started with a small seed-sized dream.   One that kept nudging at me here and there.  Like when I was at the store or farmer’s market picking out vegetables.   Or when I was preparing food to cater.

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Dreaming BIG!

Then, I decided to give it a whirl.  This was a year ago.  My excitement was high.  I was ready for a lush garden flourishing at my fingertips within a couple weeks.

The truth is that wasn’t realistic.  I didn’t have a place for a garden yet.

What I needed was a plan.  A realistic one.  But I didn’t know where to start.  I just wanted to reap the benefits.  That is why this can be the very stopping point for many.   Swallowing the entire scope of the project felt overwhelming.  I felt like I could choke.  Where in the yard would I put it?  How much would it cost?  How much sun do seeds/vegetables need?  Did I need a lanscaper?  What grows here?  What can I grow?   How much do you water?  When do you plant?  On an on it went. 

Achievement comes in steps.  I had to break it down to manageable aspects if I expected to a bountiful harvest someday.   So my plan was to create a plan.  I asked friends, Googled all I could and read seed packets and magazines.   I found the help I needed and jumped in.  imgres

First, we prepared the yard’s landscape last summer, accepting a vegetable harvest was at least a year away.  ACHIEVEMENT  ONE: The yard looked beautiful.  

ACHIEVEMENT TWO:  I planted these tiny seeds, as spring finally arrived.  I planted some haphazardly; others with great care. (perfection NOT required)

ACHIEVEMENT THREE:  I made the time to nurture the area with water, sun, soil, fertilizer, and loving anticipation.

ACHEIVEMENT FOUR:  Huge plants grew….and grew….and grew.   The more they grew the more I nurtured.

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ACHEIVEMENT FIVE:  Harvest.  My dream fulfilled   Beautiful, live, deliciously healthy food at my fingertips.  20130619_16355120130619_163417

To think this is only my first year.   Imagine what next year has to offer!

My garden analogy is a metaphor for anything you may be dreaming of in your life.  So what it is you dream of?  What do you want to grow in your life?   Are you ready to plan and achieve all that you want?    

I know I am.  I’ve put this same process in my weight loss, my exercise program, and my healing journey.   My achievements are too many to count in just a short period of time.

Starting planting your dreams today!

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GOT WATER?

You Don’t Have To Drink Plain Water To Hydrate

However, You Do Need Water Intake

Fun Hydration Facts:

  • You need water for your body to function
  • Water helps digestion
  • 60% of a male’s body is water; 50% of a female’s body is water
  • Blood is approximately 93 percent water – so blood is only slightly thicker than water!
  • Muscle is around 73% water
  • Teeth are about 10%
  • Body fat is about 10%
  • The brain is about 85%!
  • The older you get the less hydrated your body maintains on its own
  • Sweat draws off both the inside of your cells and the outside
  • Bottled water is not always better than tap
  • A little goes a long way — sip on water all day ensures proper hydration (see below for water recipes)
  • You do not need 8 glasses of plain water a day…

However, you do need to hydrate with water – through natural liquid and food intake.  ALL fluids count (except sugared, artificial and alcoholic drinks – those can actually dehydrate the body).

Some foods that contain high levels of water include:

  • Oatmeal is 84% water
  • Lettuce is 96%
  • Tomato 95%
  • Grapes 81%
  • Strawberries 98%
  • Watermelon 91%

Combine oatmeal with berries or tomatoes with lettuce or load up on fruit salad to ensure a high level of water intake.

Sure you should drink plain water as well.   It’s the fastest, lowest calorie way to hydrate.  If plain water bores your tastebuds, try infusing various flavors to add some zest.   Several companies sell aqua infusers on-line.  It’s a great way to liven up your water without added calories, which means you will drink more.   Fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs work lovely.

Some lovely combinations include:

Watermelon – Basil

Orange – Blackberry

Strawberry — Mint

Lemon – Cucumber

Mint – Chili Peppers – Vanilla – Orange

It’s simple.  Inexpensive.  And the possibilities are endless!  Be creative.  Combine your favorite flavors and have fun hydrating!

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HYDRATE & BE HEALTHY

Frozen Grapes

HEALTHY REWARDS

Living healthy does not mean living without rewards!

On the contrary, it simply means making the best choices for yourself — including your decadent rewards of food.  Being healthy starts and succeeds with having a healthy attitude towards food.   It’s important to enjoy the food you are eating. To be satisfied.  To reward yourself here and there.   It’s not just eating something because it is low calorie or within close proximity or simply good for you or it’s the “right” thing to eat.   Food, even live, healthy food, can be decadent, delicious and delightful.   Food should satisfy you….not set up a crave for more.

When was the last time you truly felt satisfied when you gobbled up one piece of candy and then the next and next, or went for seconds on dessert, or ate something you didn’t even remember eating?   Most of the “treats” we eat are not eaten with true satisfaction in mind.   Most of us eat these types of food for all sorts of reasons, such as emotions are high or low; tiredness has set in; the item is placed near us; we’re eating out; we’re on vacation; we think it will make us happy; and more.

Instead, start slow.   Plan your special rewards or treats.  Plan for them to be once a week.  Or once every other week.  Or once a month.  And when those planned times arrive, you are fully ready to indulge.   Wean yourself slowly.

In the mean time, depending on how often you are splurging now, cut the frequency of these splurges down.  And then ADD, yes add, special treats that aren’t simply empty calories and lacking in nutrition.  Over time, your body will crave healthier and more nutritionally dense foods, if you give your body a chance to have them in the first place.

Here are a couple recipes/ideas I’ve gathered that are healthy and DELICIOUS:

Frozen Delights:  Frozen Grapes

Chilled Grapes — easy, delicious, and perfectly satisfying to one’s sweet tooth.

Wash, separate from stems, and freeze.  It’s as easy as that!  Some people like to put them on skewers, other simply place them in a freezer bag and freeze.

Pop one in your mouth and feel the joy of sucking on a natural type of Popsicle.  Very naturally refreshing and sweet.

Fruit Popsicles with Coconut Milk - A more zestful version of chilled grapes, maintaing all the same simplicity of prep work.   With seasonal berries and fruit, combined with amazing fresh herbs, the flavor combinations are endless.   IMG_5474

The “ice cream” is simply coconut milk and sweetener.   Depending on your taste, date paste, raw agave nectar, maple syrup, bananas or raw cane sugar could be used.   Sweeten to taste.

Pour “ice cream” in popsicle molds with fruit and herbs.   Lavender, basil, rosemary, and thyme work well with berries, fruits and citrus.

Freeze and enjoy.

 

Simple Elegance:

Berries & Cream — a classic, seasonal favorite.  Top with a small amount of cream or Greek yogurt and drizzled honey.   A great way to satisfy those sweet nudgings.

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Worldly Desserts: 

banana

Thai Sticky Rice with Fruit — a healthy, enjoyable, and easy dessert.   Great way to use leftover rice!

  • Sticky Rice or Jasmine Rice – cooked
  • Canned Coconut Milk
  • Honey
  • Mango (traditional choice), Banana, Peaches, Papayas, Nectarines, or any other ripe fruit chopped
  • Mint or Basil, optional  mango

Heat ingredients and serve.   Don’t overcook.   Let stand to allow flavors to blend and serve.  Fruit can also be placed on top or side of heated mixture.

 

Healthy Pick-me-up:

Trail Mix — A great grab ‘n go treat.   Many varieties offer a punch of nutrition along with enjoyable taste.   Watch out for those that add more candy, sweeteners, and junk type foods in their mixes.    Stick with the ones that add dried fruit and coconut to bring out the sweetness.   Trail Snack

 

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MOVE YOUR BODY CHALLENGE

LET’S GET MOVING – Move your body

I challenge you to 30 days of movement.  I want to walk with you.  Move with you.  Starting today, June 1st through June 30th.   EVERYDAY.   For just 15 minutes a day.  Whatever that may look like:  mowing the lawn, taking a walk with your child/grandchild, gardening, swimming, or dancing wildly in your living room to your favorite music.  Find something you WANT to do — and do it.   If you move more than 15 minutes, great.   If not, that’s okay everyone must start somewhere.

Exercise is best started in small steps.   If a person wants to run a marathon race, she doesn’t just stand up and start running.   Mostly likely injury would occur, not to mention failure.   The body must be strengthened one step-at-a-time.  One best done with care.  It’s a process.

The very process, in fact, I am working on.   I have signed up for a half a marathon in October, and have just completed the Boulder Boulder last week.   This is quite an accomplishment for me as I am not a runner.  Well, okay, today I guess I am, but never before in my life have I run for sport.  Never thought I would in fact.  So let me assure you, I did not accomplish this over night.  I have been working and strengthening my body for months to prepare for this.

Part of my preparation is making sure I move my body everyday.   This doesn’t always mean some strict exercise regime or boot camp drill sergeants.   It means simply moving your body.   And it doesn’t even mean moving your body for 15 consecutive minutes or do the same consecutive movement.   Simply move and let us know about it!   By committing to posting your movements, it will not only keep you inspired, it will inspire others.

Here are a few ideas of how to move your body:

  • Park in the furthest parking space and walk
  • Take the stairs – particularly up!
  • Throw a frisbee for your dog
  • Walk your dog
  • Walk your kids
  • Garden
  • Run
  • Yoga
  • Hopscotch
  • Mow your lawn
  • Take a hike
  • Swim
  • Dance
  • Lift weights
  • Take an exercise class
  • Zumba
  • Hike
  • Rock climb
  • Even, clean your house

Let’s get moving.  I want to walk with you throughout this month, both literally and figuratively.   So post your successes and even your disappointments…..as we are all taking this one step-at-a-time.

 

 

Sugar Free Pistachio Date Cookie Bars

SUGAR — A HIDDEN CULPRIT

Let’s talk sugar.DownloadedFile

Sugar is a topic that cannot possibly be fully discussed in one blog post.   However, odds are, if you are anything like the rest of us American’s, including myself, you’ve probably struggled with  weight, body image, food plans, diets, and/or various health issues at some time or another.   And that struggle usually forces our attention to look at the amount of sugar, types of sugar and/or quantity of sugars we eat.   So let’s talk about it.

First, be gentle with yourself about your desire for something sweet.   We humans have a natural “sweet tooth.” It is why mother’s milk has a natural sweetness to it, so babies take to it.   There is pleasure and an organic aspect to our desire for sweetness.

However, let’s not confuse sweetness with sugar.

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Sweeteners can come in many natural and even healthy forms, such as deliciously ripened fruit, dried fruits, condensed fruit glazes, honey, agave nectar, black strap molasses, and even Stevia.

 

Sugar on the other hand has been compared, by some, to other addictive white powders such as cocaine, heroin, arsenic, and even anthrax.  Sound a bit dramatic?  An exaggeration?  Perhaps, however, there is proven scientific studies that show that the empty calories of processed sugar spikes one’s blood sugars, creating an endless cycle of cravings.   url-6

 

 

The problem is sugar is everywhere….sugar is in almost everything we Americans eat these days.  From the obvious to the hidden.  Desserts, sodas, candy, jellies/jams, and sugary cereals are obvious culprits that add high levels of sugar in our diets.   Are you aware though that tomato sauce, ketchup, reduced calorie salad dressings, yogurts, milk, granola bars, sports drinks, peanut butter, pre-packaged oatmeal packs, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, and even breads and rolls are packed with sugar?

Here are a few terms that hide sugar on our labels:

  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose

This list is lengthy….and some worse culprits than others.   For a person to avoid sugar all together or to eliminate sugar instantly is a set-up for failure.  Instead, start slow. Empower yourself with knowledge.   Know what terms actually mean “processed sugars.”   Read labels.

Make small changes at first.   Try to eliminate one obvious sugar from your day.   Just one.   One soda.  One dessert.   One “treat.”   One guilty pleasure.

By eliminating one obvious sugar from your daily food plan will feel so empowering.

Now, take a look at the hidden sugars you are eating and make one small change in this area as well.  Make substitutions:

  • Add fruit to your day (replacing the one obvious sugar while avoiding all the cravings)
  • Top your cereal with fruit rather than sugar.
  • Buy plain yogurt and add honey, for a more natural, healthy alternative.  
  • Look for nut butters without sugars.  
  • Make your own smoothies and sweeten with real fruit rather than sugar.  
  • Switch one soda or sugar drink a day for water or lemonade made with real lemons and Stevia.  
  • Give alternative sweeteners like agave, molasses or honey a try to see which ones you may like best.   

These types of changes are simple and effective.   I’ve also included a recipe that is sugar free and gluten free (a topic for future blog) Pistachio Date Cookie Slices that will satiate any sweet tooth.

I’ve learned that I can enjoy honey or fruit to satisfy my desires for sweet treats without having the very uncomfortable and undesirable effects of sugar.   It’s about making new healthy habits for yourself.

Leave a comment to what changes you make and how they worked for you!

Gluten Free Sugar Free Pistachio Date Cookie Slices Recipe  gluten-free-pistachio-date-cookie-bars-01

Ingredients

1 ½ cups dates, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar - optional
1 1/3 cups superfine brown or white rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum
½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
¾ cup cold unsalted butter or dairy free butter substitute, cut into small pieces
4 – 8 tablespoons cold water
1 – 2 teaspoons milk (dairy free is fine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Combine the dates, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the pistachios and, if you want a sweeter cookie, 2 tablespoons of honey or agave. Cover the saucepan and let the mixture cool while preparing the dough.

Combine the flour, tapioca starch, xanthan or guar gum, salt and butter (or butter substitute) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the machine running, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a soft but not sticky dough. (If dough gets too sticky just dust it with a little more rice flour.) Cut the dough into two even pieces and roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into 12 by 8 inch rectangles. Place one on the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the pistachio date mixture to within ½ inch of the dough edges. Brush the edges with water and top with the remaining sheet of dough. Press to seal the edges. Score the top into 12 even slices with a knife and glaze the top with milk. Bake for 30 -35 minutes or until golden brown. If desired, brush the top with a tablespoon of honey or agave. Let cool on a wire rack.

Cut into slices and serve.

Servings

A gluten free recipe that makes 12

Thought for the day:

“ Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters. ”

— Nathaniel Emmons

My children are my greatest teachers in the importance of mothering myself

Mother Yourself

How well do you mother yourself? 

Do you give to everyone else?  Do you put yourself at the bottom of the priority list?  

Whether you are a mother, plan to be mother, born of a mother or have ever mothered a friend or family member, you probably know how to mother.  It’s called unconditional love and support.  And yet, ironically, we forget to mother ourselves.  

How will you mother yourself on this Mother’s Day?

Try taking a few moments, or an hour, or an evening, listening to what YOU may need this weekend.   Put yourself at the top of your list.   By taking a few moments each day for yourself, linking them together one-at-a-time, soon you will find these moments becomes the very touchstones to your overall well-being.

Why not make this Mother’s Day the starting point for mothering yourself.  Here are just a few suggestions to try, based on what makes good mothering:

NURTURE YOURSELF 150141_631448360203592_1484195265_n

Take a walk — Do yoga — Be playful — Make art — Dance — Plant herbs — Sing — Breathe deeply 

EMPATHIZE WITH YOURSELF imgres-2

Laugh — Cry — Nap — Be gentle with yourself — Daydream — Lean into your desires — Forgive yourself

NOURISH YOUR WELLNESS imgres-4

Eat nutritiously — Listen to your body — Drink water — Buy organic — Move your body — Savor the moment

COMPASSIONimgres-5

Trust yourself — Put yourself first — Hear yourself — treat yourself well — Appreciate your value — Lead with your heart

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE  imgres-6

See your beauty — Be unique — Speak your truth — Follow your heart — Celebrate YOU! 

DREAM — PLAN — ACHIEVE 

Happy Mothering Yourself Day!

Let us know how you choose to uniquely nurture or pamper yourself this weekend.

How did I do it?

I am a chef and own my own catering business in Denver, CO.   My days are filled with food — planning, creating, preparing, cooking, serving, and of course, sampling.  It’s my job to taste and enjoy food.  I also juggle mothering 2 kids, a marriage and a home.   Like many people, especially women, there never seems to be enough time in the day.

Add in the holidays, like in December 2012, where we had over 100 events.  It all adds up to crazy hours.  No time to sit down.  And forget about eating properly.  Lemon custard bars became dinner.  Mashed potatoes, pasta and bread became my staple.  And eating on the run became my only form of exercise.   The result — 20+ additional pounds.   My clothes didn’t fit.  My waistline expanded.  And my holiday attire became elastic waists and loose tops.

After the catering rush, my family and I went on at trip to Mexico:  sun, fun, and egads, swimsuits! http://www.dreamstime.com/-image290196There I stood, in front of the mirror, when I finally “saw” myself.  Truly took in the truth of what I saw.  At first, there was disbelief.   ”Is that me?”   I couldn’t believe it.  And I couldn’t shake it.  That night I couldn’t sleep.

“What had I done to myself?”   This was unacceptable.  Unhealthy!  Something had to change.  I had to change.  I promised myself then and there to change and to do it sanely and healthfully.

No short cuts.   No fad diets.  No magic pills or cures.

It comes down to exercise and food, food, food.

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!

YouAreWhatYouEat

And my belly fat jiggled like lemon custard and looked like mashed potatoes.  Instead, I wanted more lean muscle, trimmed fat, and healthy cells.

I joined a gym and got a personal trainer focusing on strength training 2 days a week and cardio for 150 minutes a week.  I find I love it.  Not everyone would though.  It’s important to move your body — in whatever way works for you today.  However, 70% of my success results from my food choices.   I wanted and needed the changes with my food to be my strength.  Food that was healthy and nutritious, while also tasting decadently and deliciously.

 

eatThis is where my expertise and passion could help me….and others, thus, this blog and also sharing with friends and family who now have also benefited greatly right along with me.

I invite you to walk this path with me.   Amazing things await.

 

 

 

 

My Journey to Here

My story is no different than yours.  I love food.  I’m surrounded by some of the greatest temptations, as I am a professional chef and caterer.  It’s my job to taste everything, but along the way, food became my downfall.  I packed on nearly 20 extra pounds, especially indulging during the holidays.   I felt sluggish, a bit lost, and even unhealthy carrying the burden that settled around my mid-section. (A picture is worth a thousand words.)

What I wanted, and want for you, is to live and be healthy — the right way.  No magic pill or fad diet.  Real food.  Healthy food.  Food can and should be delicious, enjoyable and healthy.

Madhoo

After Living Healthy!

I’m a walking testament now as to how anyone can live healthy and well, while fulfilling their dreams.

My blog will share insights, recipes, menus, pictures, information, inspirations, wisdom, and support to show you how you too can achieve the benefits of healthy living, like me and many others who have benefited from my experience.  It is why I want to open it up to anyone who may want it.   It’s simple really — Dream – Plan – Achieve.

COME WALK THE JOURNEY OF HEALTH WITH ME!