Outside Wellness Matters too!

Initiate Wellness inside and outside has become my catch phrase; not to sell more of anything but because wellness throughout matters. What is wellness inside and out? Inside wellness includes the foods we eat and how they affect us. Whole  foods in their natural state are healing and nutrient dense which help feed our cells. There is no one particular food that is absolutely perfect for everyone because every one of us is uniquely different and we each react to foods differently. Finding what works for you personally keeping your weight, organs and blood optimal is the place of perfection for you.

Outside wellness involves things you do that help you experience happiness, inspiration, calm, confidence, joy, peace, stress-free, care-free and clean environment and similar things which brings me to my point in this post, the environment around me (and you).

I live in a spot that is pretty, lush, wooded, hilly, quiet and damp. Everything is good except the dampness. I would never have thought a wooded rolling area would be damp but the spot I am in is and that isn’t healthy for me personally. I have had only slight breathing issues due to exercise and moldy-mildew(y) induced asthma. When I moved here almost five years ago I didn’t realize it was as damp as it is and because of the environment I live in, my asthma inhaler has become my best friend, unfortunately.

This past weekend I had an opportunity to take a few days down the Cape, where my heart truly is and has been since I was a child, with my sister-in-law. One would assume the cape is damp and mildew(y) because it’s surrounded on three sides by ocean but I didn’t have any breathing issues and boy-oh-boy was my head draining and clear. The air felt clean and fresh and my inhaler never got to see the light of day! I walked….a lot. I slept well. I felt peaceful and inspired and I felt healthy.

I returned home last night, not saying good-bye to my Cape Cod, but saying until I see you again. Surprisingly and sadly within about an hour of being home my chest got heavy and wheezing began. I was heading to bed so I chose to try sleeping without taking any inhaler because it keeps me awake and leaves my body feeling like it was plugged into an electric socket, well, what I imagine it might feel like if it were charging up like a cellphone.

Outside wellness is not just the things we do to make us happy but it involves how and where we live that make us feel truly healthy. The air we breathe and the full environment around us makes a difference in how we feel and how we react to life in general. Our environment can make us happy, inspired and healthy or it can leave us feeling lethargic, sad and depressed, sluggish, labored and toxic.

Take the necessary steps that lead you to your healthiest on the inside and on the outside!

Down to earth juicing

Earthy Beet juice blendI love smoothies but sometimes I like the smooth thinness of a juice. I have a great blender that can almost build a house, ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it is pretty helpful in many ways. My juicer on the other hand is just a cheap but equally handy piece of equipment; it does its job and makes a very nice juice.

I’m not in the habit of juicing every day but I’d like to be. I juice when I have fresh veggies and fruit on hand…I’m more of a veggie lover than a fruit lover but fruit helps break the deep earthy flavor to a slightly more naturally sweet earthiness.

Today’s juice is deliciously earthy. The recipe I concocted includes a beet-peeled, 3 ribs celery, 4″ piece of cucumber, 2 carrots, a handful of spinach, 1 green apple-cored, 2″ piece of ginger-peeled, splash of water in the end to get every last bit of juice out of the machine.

Beets help detoxify, improve heart health, anti-oxidant, and have shown to reduce tumor size among several other health benefits.

Looking to increase your veggie intake and feed your cells as well as possible? Try juicing and smoothie making, all homemade of course so that you have full control and knowledge of what you are putting into your body!

Cheers, bottoms up!

My Novice Garden

Garlic while still growing and scapes attached

I’m just a novice gardener, I’m not a farmer like several of my friends but I’m not doing too badly either. This year is my third year having a vegetable garden in this location, I did have a successful garden years ago at another home which had plenty of sun unlike my spot here.

The endless shade in my yard throughout the day is a great thing when you want to sit outside enjoying spring, summer and fall but it’s not so great for my garden as you can imagine. Considering this, growing an abundance of produce has been challenging. I can grow kale from spring through fall, I have also had good luck with string beans and certain herbs, very small bell peppers, tiny cucumbers if any and if the frogs stay away from them. Yup, I have a brook running beside my house and it seems to attract some type of pointy nosed frogs who love to eat the insides of my cucumbers leaving the skins fully intact; it’s not such a great  moment when you think you have this beautiful cucumber and as you pick it up it’s just a shell! Heartbreaking.

One thing that my good friend Clem down the street who is a farmer in every sense of the word taught me how to grow last year was garlic. I planted eleven bulbs and had a successful crop of eleven garlic scapes which I used in several different ways and garlic scape hummus was the biggest hit, especially to my cousin’s 3-year-old son, he absolutely loved it! When it was time to harvest the garlic bulbs I of course had eleven which I saved every one of to plant in the fall.

Last fall my oldest son was around so he helped me plant 83 cloves of garlic then we covered them with hay until spring. As the last bit of snow melted in April I removed the hay to find small sprouts stretching their arms up toward sunlight – once again I was elated!

A few weeks ago I snapped off all the garlic scapes, I had enough this year to share so I did and I kept some too. I will freeze whatever I don’t use this week after making more hummus and a garlic scape & herb pesto.

Today I harvested all 83 garlic bulbs and laid them on an unused child gate to dry. I’m drying them in my cellar which is light enough and has very dry air all the time. I only pulled two sets of twins this year which I will not plant next year per instructions of farmer Clem; but they will make good eating!

I thoroughly enjoy planting, growing, and cooking with garlic scapes and garlic so come fall, I’ll plant more than 83. I’m going to plant the largest of my bulbs and look for larger bulbs at the local farm stand to plant.

If you feel even slightly interested in trying to grow your own garlic I say go for it!

Just harvested today and laid on a screened gate to dry

Just harvested today and laid on a screened gate to dry

Garlic scapes & kale

Garlic scapes & kale

 

 

 

Food Addiction & How to Control It

Our body is greatly affected by what we put in it. If we treat it to processed, un-natural, chemically treated, high fat foods it will go through high processes to digest these so-called foods, we will look and feel un-natural, we will suffer symptoms of chemical overload and we will have a high fat content to our body.

What is food addiction and how do we become addicted?

Food addiction is basically compulsive overeating. There are many reasons for this kind of behavior. Some compulsively overeat for comfort, out of loneliness, depression, as a control issue (as in it’s the only thing they have control over, but then it gets out of control and so begins a cycle), some binge out of boredom, or not being satiated with healthy food choices, for many it’s for emotional reasons. Overall, the kind of food you consume can lead you to being addicted to it. Whatever the reason, it can be stopped!

First, let’s look at the addicting foods.

Caffeine – Caffeine is a drug. Caffeine is defined as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, causing increased alertness. Caffeine gives most people a temporary energy boost and elevates mood. It’s found in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate.

Sugar - Sugar is an additive and in its many forms can lead to many diseases, the most well-known being Type 2 Diabetes.

Salt – Salt is added in large amounts to processed foods. This makes that particular food addicting.

Fat – Fatty foods such as meats dairy and sweets are addicting because they stimulate the “pleasure centers” of the brain causing the compulsion to repeat the experience. We can also develop a tolerance to the pleasure the food gave and need more of it.

Casein - Casein is a protein found in cow’s milk and is therefore in cheese and other dairy products. Casein breaks down during digestion into casomorphins, which are opiates that make the eater “feel good” after eating. They create cravings and cause withdrawal when given up. Casein is more concentrated in cheese than milk.

Artificial Sweeteners – Most of what you hear about artificial sweeteners comes from the companies themselves. Unfortunately, you don’t hear the downside of these chemical additives. You most likely use these so-called sweeteners either to lose weight or to satisfy your sugar craving. But artificial sweeteners do neither; they don’t help you lose weight and they actually make your cravings worse causing you to have ‘one more’. They’re also dangerous to your health because they are chemicals that you should not be putting into your body as your body has a difficult time getting rid of them. Studies have proven artificial sweeteners are linked to potential cancer risks, negative effects on the liver, kidneys and other organs, gastrointestinal problems, developmental problems in children and fetuses, headaches and they stimulate cravings. Artificial sweeteners may also lessen the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels. Studies have also shown that people who consume artificial sweeteners eat more calories than those who don’t.

Chemicals in our food – This includes MSG, food dyes/colorings, as well as preservatives. Over 12,000 chemicals are used in the production of our food; many are used intentionally as “direct additives” but some are “indirect’ contaminants or used accidentally. The food industry uses roughly 3,000 different additives in various packaged, processed and preserved food. They include preservatives, emulsifiers, natural and artificial colorings and flavorings. Two common chemicals we create are Trans-fats and hydrogenated fats.

So, how can you eat-to-lose, and win?

1- Eliminate junk food from your diet. This includes artificially sweetened foods, processed dry or frozen foods (with the exception of plain, frozen vegetables or fruits); foods labeled low-fat or fat-free as these usually have added sugar (with the exception of low-fat dairy products where the fat is simply removed). Junk and processed foods have little to no nutritional value.

2 - Eat lots of produce. A fruit or vegetable should be added to every meal and eaten as snacks between meals. They provide abundant amounts of nutrients without a lot of calories which make them a perfect food for supporting weight loss.

3 – Eat lean protein. Protein helps your body maintain muscle mass and helps you stay full. Don’t stick to meats only. There are many great sources of protein including fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and dairy products such as Greek yogurt and cheese.

4- Eat fiber with every meal. Fiber helps you feel full and stay full. It’s also beneficial to the digestive tract. It can be found in a wide variety of foods including most vegetables such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, eggplant and whole grains breads, pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, barley, bulgur wheat and more.

5- Get moving. Get outside. Walk, bike, run, play catch, Frisbee, hike, anything. Just get some exercise every day. It will burn fat and relax your mind, body and lift your spirits.

Our ancestors ate whole grain breads; we eat white bread, stripped of all its nutrients.  Native Americans ate corn: we eat corn syrup which has no nutritional value.

By omitting processed and junk foods as previously mentioned, and replacing them with whole foods in correct portion sizes and with at least a little bit of physical activity daily you will lose weight and win your body back.

 

Cucumber, Melon & Bean Salad

1 English cucumber, chopped bite sized
2 cups fresh melon (cantaloupe, mango, watermelon etc), chopped bite sized
½ cup red onion, chopped, fine
1 can black beans or kidney beans, rinsed & drained
Freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to bowl and toss with olive oil and apple cider or red wine vinegar.
For a creamier dressing mix ½-¾ cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tablespoon cilantro.
Let flavors marinate 2-24 hours. Serve.

Boost Metabolism, Burn Fat

Many of us both look forward to and dread the foods of the season. Don’t let food get the best of your efforts to lose weight. With these few simple steps you can enjoy and burn off holiday, summer BBQ’s and other celebration type foods. Try to get a leg up on being in control and fit; boost your metabolism so that our body can burn calories more efficiently.

One sure way to boost your metabolism is to get some exercise in your routine weekly or daily if you’re super motivated. Even a short 20 minutes a day can make a significant difference in your energy level and it can boost your mood to a happier more positive place. When you add just 5-10 pounds of lean muscle you can rev your resting metabolism burning up to 100 calories when doing nothing!

Eat right & don’t skip meals. Yes, once again vegetables are a star in eating well. You should aim for 5-8 dark, colorful vegetables every day, 1-3 fruits, lean proteins such as eggs, chicken, smaller cold water fish, and fiber. Fiber foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds are harder for the body to digest making the body work harder, using up energy thus boosting metabolism in the process; and you stay full longer. Just 1/2 cup is a serving for vegetables, beans and grains, so it’s easy to get 5-8 servings daily.

Drink water! Proper hydration will keep your body in gear. Hydration is equally important in cooler weather as it is in the hot weather. Carry water with you wherever you go.

Allergy Support & Healthy Lungs

Spring, early summer and fall welcome us with fresh pollens that affect so many of us and if you’re a lover of being outdoors as I am,  it can truly put a damper on your fun.

A few things that you can do to help boost your lung function is of course drink plenty of water to flush your system regularly; many of us decrease water consumption when the weather isn’t hot, however, it’s important to drink plenty every day of the year. Some of the following healthy lung foods will help as well:

Vitamin A foods
kale, romaine, broccoli, carrots, watercress.
Vitamin C foods
guava, rosehips, red, green and yellow peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, strawberries & citrus.
Fresh herbs
garlic, onion, shallot, oregano, dill, thyme, ginger, mint and parsley.

By adding these simple foods in your everyday meals you will get great benefits throughout your body as well as your lungs. You don’t need mega doses, every small amount helps. You can add lemon, mint and ginger to your water, sprinkle parsley on almost every dish and nibble on leafs of it throughout the day.

My Chinese practitioner/chiropractor shared a soothing remedy with me so I will pass it on to you. You’ll need:

1 green Bartlet type pear, seeded and cut into chunks

1 cup of water

and a sauce pan

Add the chunks of pear to the pan on water and poach for 15 minutes. Drink the ‘tea’ and eat the pear. It nourishes the lungs and helps to open the air passages. It’s also soothing for asthma, bronchitis and dry cough.

Healthy eating is healing; healthy eating is living!

Cinnamon & Saffron

Cinnamon      Saffron

 

 

 

I am fortunate to have a great friend who sent me an entire pound of organic cinnamon and a wonderful aunt who shared with me her bounty of saffron given to her from her friend from Tehran, Iran. Due to these two powerfully healing, widely useful spices, I thought I would share!

Cinnamon has been used for centuries for treatment of such things as fever, diarrhea, bronchitis, colds, sinus congestion, sluggish digestion, poor circulation, intestinal infection and the list goes on! Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, It has also been used topically for scrapes and cuts.

Cinnamon scent can help lift depression, mental fatigue, nervous exhaustion, and improve concentration.

Cinnamon can be used in countless ways! I use it every day. I add it to my coffee grounds before brewing or dripping through the Keurig using my refillable pods. I also add it to tea, yogurt, cereal, fruit, cottage cheese, smoothies; it sweetens a veggie smoothie perfectly spaghetti sauce especially when making lasagna, other sauces, chicken, various bean dishes and of dessert dishes whenever I make them.

In order to let you to decide how to use your cinnamon here’s a link with many recipes instead of a single one:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/cinnamon_recipes?slide=1#leaderboardad

Saffron

You may already be aware that saffron is an expensive little spice at roughly $40/oz., this is due to the labor in harvesting it. It takes about 3 acres of the flower, crocus by the way, to produce 1 lb. of saffron. It is cultivated in many places but primarily in France, Spain, Sicily and Iran.

When using saffron it’s important to use only a tiny pinch; it’s flavorful and potent. Saffron contains a poison that acts on the central nervous system and damages the kidneys, large doses can have severe effects; one-half ounce (10-12 grams) is a fatal dose for humans; But don’t let that halt you from using it.

Saffron can be used in rice dishes, seafood dishes, chicken and stews. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

Saffron Chicken w/ White Wine

2 chicken breast halves cut into thirds
1 medium onion, sliced thin lengthwise
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
½ cup chicken broth
Pinch of saffron (roughly ¼ tsp.)
Juice of half a lemon

Heat the olive oil and butter, add chicken and sear on all sides. Add onion, wine and stock. Simmer 15 minutes until chicken is cooked and liquid is cooked down. Add Lemon juice and saffron, simmer 5 minutes more. Season with parsley and serve alongside rice seasoned with olive oil, pink Himalayan salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of saffron if desired.

7 Ways to Control Cravings

1- Don’t skip breakfast; choose a balance of protein and complex carbs such as greens and/or a piece of fruit.

2- Eating healthy snacks frequently helps keep blood sugars balanced.

3- Eliminate artificial sweeteners. They are 600 times sweeter than the natural sweetener and it tricks the brain causing your body to crave the real thing

4- Manage stress. Find ways to calm yourself and de-stress daily. Find activities that relax you and get support for stress and other issues in your life. (a health coach can support you to healthier lifestyle habits)

5- Outsmart food triggers. Activities such as movies, holidays, birthday parties, weekends can sabotage your good intentions. Find healthy alternatives for the typical junk foods.

6- Deal with hidden food allergies. Allergies cause inflammation which can decrease blood flow which can also cause cravings.

7- Use supplements. There are a few supplements that will help balance minerals in your body that help control cravings in order to ‘get’ those needed minerals. A few good supplements are fish oil, vitamin D and a good quality multi-vitamin.

Cilantro!

I’ve had cilantro on my mind and on my plate for the past month, I’m not sure what has caused this craze but I won’t complain. Cilantro is good for you. Cilantro is also known as coriander and Chinese parsley. It is beneficial to cleansing your blood, it lowers your blood sugar and your bad cholesterol levels; it also has antibiotic properties.

You can use cilantro in many dishes and many ways. It’s best not to cook it so be sure to add it last if you’re using it with a hot dish. It’s a main herb in homemade salsa which makes your own salsa so much fresher tasting! I like adding it to tabbouli, and my black bean & corn salad.

Cilantro, Lime Avocado Dressing/Sauce

1 lg. handful cilantro, rinsed
½ a Haas avocado
Juice of half of a lime or 1 Tbs. lime juice
½ tsp. pink salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

Mix in blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add water to thin to desired consistency if using as a dressing.

Serve over fish, poultry, eggs, or cooked or raw vegetables; or use as salad dressing.

Cilantro, Lime Avocado Dressing/Sauce

Bonus Recipe: Black Bean & Corn Salad

1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 can corn, 2 cups frozen, thawed corn or fresh corn from the cob
1 can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles or freshly chopped tomatoes & jalapenos
1 lg. handful cilantro chopped
half of a small onion chopped or 2-3 stems green onion or handful chives, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped – you can add chopped carrot also if you wish
Dash olive oil and apple cider vinegar

Mix all and chill.