Living a CBD-infused lifestyle: From the kitchen to the yoga mat

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Suffering from COVID stress? You’re not alone. The novel coronavirus is leaving a trail of anxiety-ridden people in its wake.

Since it was federally legalized in 2018, cannabidiol — more widely known as CBD — has gone full craze. Medicinal use has become common to help treat seizures and various chronic conditions, as well as reducing stress and anxiety, alleviating inflammation in muscles and joints, and enhancing sleep performance.

A non-intoxicating active ingredient in cannabis and hemp, CBD is commonly used as a vaping alternative to THC. Still, some have are exploring new avenues that incorporate CBD into their diet.

“We are all born with an endocannabinoid system within our body,” says Derek Weinman, a Denver-based chef and former Sous Chef at San Francisco’s well renowned, high-end dining establishment Boulevard.

Without getting too scientific, the endocannabinoid (EC) system is a cell-signalling system in the human body involved in regulating neural activities such as sleep, pain and the natural synthesis of cannabinoid receptor proteins. In Layman’s terms: yes, our bodies produce chemicals that activate the same receptors in our brain as THC. 

“This [EC] system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis within all the other systems, like our nervous system, digestive system, etc.,” Weinman says. “Our body creates endocannabinoids naturally, but through our high stress levels and [busy] lifestyles, it isn’t able to create enough. This is where phytocannabinoids come into play, which are cannabinoids derived from plant extracts. CBD is an example of a phytocannabinoid that works to rebalance our endocannabinoid systems and in turn all other systems.”

Weinman inspired us to get more of these plant-based cannabinoids into our daily routine, onto our plates and into our systems. We sat down with him and yoga teacher Kremi Arabadjieva, with whom he co-launched the wellness-based experience, CBD Small Bites & Yoga in 2019.

Weinman and Arabadjieva preparing for CBD Small Bites & Yoga. Photo by Ann Koch

In talking about what inspired Weinman and Arabadjieva to fuse the two practices together, we gained some insight on how to cook with CBD and incorporate it into your diet, how its medicinal benefits help Weinman battle Crohn’s Disease, and what happens when you bring CBD onto the mat.

What inspired this journey to marry CBD with the art of yoga?

Arabadjieva: Yoga and CBD both work individually to relieve stress, anxiety and inflammation, so it only made sense to pair the two with food for a trifecta of feel-good relaxation. We were looking through a Ganja Yoga Book and knew that people were combining cannabis and yoga, but no one was talking about CBD, yoga and delicious gourmet small bites. We both use CBD for our own individual needs, practice yoga and have an appreciation for healthy food. That is how CBD Small Bites & Yoga came to fruition, with the first experience taking place in Oakland, California, at Sangha Yoga Studio.

What are the health benefits associated with incorporating CBD into your diet?

Weinman: There are so many different health benefits of incorporating CBD into your everyday diet. It can help with most diseases that affect humans through its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and antioxidant properties. It helps with stress, digestion, anxiety, blood circulation and sleep, to name just a few. Because CBD is non-intoxicating, you should not feel “high” or “stoned.” Instead, the effects are way more subtle, so subtle that some people might not even realize there are any.

Related Article: Everything You Need To Know About CBD

In general, most people report feeling high levels of relaxation, physical and emotional calm, and relief from pain. Your headspace will be clear, and you’ll be able to function normally. It works differently on everyone, and everyone needs a different amount to feel its effects.

[Be sure to consult with your doctor first if you plan to take any CBD medicine.]

How does CBD affect the body differently when eaten versus when being inhaled?

Weinman: It takes longer to feel its effects. When eaten, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to up to an hour, and you may feel more relaxed in the body when it fully digests. I wouldn’t recommend taking an edible on a full stomach. If you take the oil tincture under your tongue, let it sit for 30 seconds or up to a minute. It absorbs directly and quickly through the sublingual artery, which speeds up the effects. With inhaling the CBD, you can feel its benefits a lot faster than any other way of intake, allowing for that instant relief or release of tension and stress.

Do you need to build CBD into your diet habitually to gain its long-term benefits?

Weinman: Yes, yes and yes. I can’t stress building it into your diet enough! CBD is not a magical potion, it takes a little bit of time to see the progress. Each time you take it, you build your endocannabinoid system up. Often, it takes time for your body to know or to notice that the pain or inflammation is gone. I have people that tell me they don’t feel anything when they first take it, and a week later they tell me how great CBD is and how they benefit so much from it. When your body gets used to it, you should notice a difference in the day-to-day.

I have Crohn’s disease, so when I started using it, I did trial and error while I was on my medication. When I noticed my symptoms changing for the better from the CBD, I made the decision to wean myself off of other medication. Now, I use just CBD and THC to treat my Crohn’s and find myself in remission due to this regular usage. I will say, Cannabis has given me so much relief. If it wasn’t for Cannabis, I probably wouldn’t be a chef.

Avocado toast with CBD oil drizzled on top. Photo by Kremi Arabadjieva

Is there a proper way to cook with CBD?

[Weinman] From a chef’s point of view, it’s best not to make it your daily cooking oil. Instead, use it after your dish is cooked as an ingredient by drizzling CBD olive oil or CBD oil on the completed dish.

To figure out how many grams of CBD to use, a good formula to follow it to take your desired CBD dosage (mg CBD) and multiply that by the number of servings in your recipe, and then divide it by the infusion potency of your CBD (mg CBD/g).

What are the different types of CBD oils and what should you be looking for in terms of label ingredients?

[Weinman] There are 3 different kinds of CBD oils that you may see on labels.

Full-spectrum, which contains less than 0.3% THC. You can’t get high from this amount of THC. It has all the compounds from the plant and gives you the best results in the long run when using CBD oil. 

Broad-spectrum, which has very little to no traces of THC. Broad-spectrum still contains the majority of the whole plant, so it’s best for people who are trying to stay away from any THC. 

Isolate, which is a solid powder and is pure CBD. It only has the CBD property and no other part of the plant.

Since there are so many CBD companies, doing your research is imperative. If you are open and able to go for full-spectrum, that is highly recommended. Full-spectrum gives you more plant benefits than just the extracted CBD isolate would. For some, broad-spectrum may be preferred, but ideally looking for either full or broad-spectrum to get the most potent effects.

CBD companies are required to do third-party testing of all their CBD products, and the test results should be on the company website. Ingredients should be natural and minimal, maybe even just the CBD and a carrier oil, such as olive oil or MCT oil, with some added flavoring. Don’t assume that a more expensive CBD is better just because of the price-tag. Many companies mark up the price and marketing efforts, yet don’t always have the best product.

Yogurt with CBD-infused granola. Photo by Kremi Arabadjieva

What are some common kitchen ingredients and at-home recipes that pair well with CBD?

[Weinman] You can add CBD to any of staple ingredients or recipes at home, like parfaits or yogurt, eggs, pestos, smashed avocado toast, pasta dishes, rice dishes, salads, soups, dips, all sorts of veggie dishes, tacos, mash potatoes, coffee, tea. Almost anything you can think of really. I really like putting CBD on fried rice.

Just make sure to use it on dishes when you finish cooking. So for instance for pasta, I would stir in the oil when I’m done cooking the dish so the CBD oil doesn’t burn off. Drizzle on your meat or fish when it’s done cooking. Even a chimichurri, you use some CBD oil and olive oil together. When baking with CBD, don’t go higher than 350 degrees and add more CBD oil to make up for what gets cooked out.

What cooking methods should you avoid when using CBD oil?

[Weinman] You want to avoid grilling, sauteing, and roasting. Don’t cook anything on high heat with CBD because the CBD will cook off and you won’t get the benefits.

CBD-infused tea. Photo by Ann Koch

How does consuming CBD enhance the yoga experience before, during, and after?

[Arabadjieva] In our experiences, we have people start with a cup of tea, with an optional infusion of CBD. This “before” ritual sets the intention for people to slow down. During the practice, the CBD contributes to a deeper state of relaxation and calm that is initially cultivated through breathwork and movement.

Related Article: Hemp: How Do We Use It & Why Is It So Great?

Yoga helps the body create its own endocannabinoids naturally, so when combined with CBD, a plant extracted cannabinoid, it provides an even larger benefit to the overall system. The anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can enhance one’s yoga practice by grounding the practitioner into their body, reducing anxiety/stress, as well as softening muscle tension while increasing one’s mindfulness of the postures and breath. We actually have CBD receptors in our body called CB2. CB2 receptors work closely with the immune system, digestive system, and certain organs to maintain homeostasis. After the practice, most practitioners feel extra peaceful, calm, open, light, and relaxed in body, mind, and energy.

How does your teaching practice differ when you bring CBD onto the mat?

[Arabadjieva] When I bring CBD onto the mat, my main intention as a teacher is to hold a safe space for individuals to explore their body, mind, and emotions in a supported way as to release stress, tension, and rebalance the system. That being said, my CBD yoga classes are usually slower in pace, all-levels (beginner-friendly), and with an emphasis on breath and mindfulness.

Oftentimes, we go through our days living in the mind, so guiding a slower practice invites us to slow down from our fast lives and ground down into the body, which is where we want to be to release anxiety and tension. I like to offer breathwork, visualization practice and an emphasis on energy release to make it an even more restorative experience. The last 20-30 minutes of the hour long class is Restorative Yoga based, in which I guide the practitioner to use household props to take supportive versions of common yoga postures. Generally by this time, the practitioners are beginning to feel the relaxing sensation of the CBD, so I make sure to sync it with yoga postures that require minimal movement.

Photo by Derek Weinman

The next CBD Small Bites & Yoga experience will be virtual and is scheduled for February 2021, exact dates to be announced on Arabadjieva’s website. Until then, you can begin your own culinary CBD journey at home with one of Weinman’s delicious gourmet recipes, listed below, like his spinach drop scones with CBD-infused persimmon jam.

photo by Kremi Arabadjieva

Spinach Drop Scones with CBD-infused Persimmon Jam Recipe:

Persimmon Jam Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds very ripe Hachiya persimmon
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 lemon juice & zest
  • 2 tablespoon CBD oil

Directions:

  1. Peel 1.5 pounds of persimmon. Weight the persimmons after peeled for exact weight.
  2. Pulse in a food processor.
  3. Add all ingredients to a medium-size pot and stir and bring to a rapid boil on high heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t scorch the bottom of the pan.  Because persimmon is high in pectin it should thicken up pretty quickly.
  4. Ladle into glass jars and cap and place in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  5. If you don’t want to can in glass jars, this can hold up for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Notes: If you don’t use ripe persimmons it will have an astringent taste. You can freeze them and then thaw them out, this makes the persimmons ripen faster and become a lot softer.

Spinach Drop Scones (yields 20)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  •  3 tablespoon butter

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until all is incorporated and smooth. Let it rest for 15 min.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan with 1 tablespoon butter and place 1oz of the mixture in a circle in the pan. When it starts to rise and stiffen, about 3-5 min for the first side,  it’s time to flip the drop scone. Gradually add more butter if needed.
  3. Place on a cooling rack or plate.
  4. Cut in half and add some persimmon jam or anything inside of what your heart desires.

Note: If you have a round metal ring use that to get a more perfect shape drop scone. You can do this in a waffle maker as well.

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