The Changes Exit

“Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man,
but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”
-Mark Twain

I hope you’re taking each step to health a bit at a time. In our instant-gratification society, it is so easy to fall into the SitCom trap that every problem must be solved in 30 minutes; every habit can be broken with a good joke and half an hour…

I was reading an article about the life of farmers, and how they do not have the luxury of procrastinating – if they put off plowing or sowing or harvesting, they would likely go hungry. But we’ve come so far from our farming roots. Most of us instead follow the school path where – let’s face it – procrastination and cramming are the daily way of life.  Cram, regurgitate, forget, repeat. But we then become accustomed to “sound bites” explaining everything, thinking that we can “fix” a bad diet over night or with a three day fast, told that it’s too hard to stick to changes for the long haul because we want results, and WE WANT THEM NOW!

 

So let’s hop on that CHANGE LANE and plan to cruise for a while! Put on some good music, keep good company, brew some tea, and settle in! 🙂 Just one simple change at a time – what will your first step be?

A lifetime of bad habits may not be an over night change – but it will be worth it. Keep at it!

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Eat A Daily Rainbow

In produce, each color food carries its own health benefits – so get that variety!

David Heber, MD, PhD wrote a book called What Color Is Your Diet? In it, he goes over the different colors and benefits. (*note – there are a variety of ways different people divide the colors, some combining the below list into fewer color options. But I like Heber’s breakdown, and the reminder to go for a cornucopia of color!)

  • White: Usually it is agreed that there is the white color category – that would include things like onion, garlic, chives, and mushroom.  Other white/green foods are celery and pears. These foods all contain flavonoids that protect your cell membranes, which helps keep inflammation down and energy up.

  • Red: Bold red foods include tomatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers, etc. Think bold bright, leaning more towards pink than purple. These foods are rich in lycopene, which helps fight cancer.

  • Darker Orange: carrots, sweet potato, and squash are great for the eyes! All the carotenoids help with night vision, and are also great disease fighters.

  • Yellow-Orange: brighter colored oranges such as the orange fruit, nectarines, mango, and papaya are phenomenal sources of Vitamin C – great for the immune system. Since Vitamin C is water-soluble, your body doesn’t hold on to it very well from day to day. So it is important to get vitamin C from food on a daily basis.

  • Yellow-Green: corn, spinach, avocado, and peas are part of this group. They are rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These components are now being linked with eye health and protection from macular degeneration.

  • Green: The darker greens – kale, broccoli, chard, kangkong… these are such an important part of health.  These are rich in sulforaphane and help stimulate the liver, enhancing your body’s natural detoxing and cleansing processes. They also contain isothicyanate and indoles, which help your body break down cancer-causing chemicals.

  • Purple: now you move into foods that are a darker red, such as grapes, berries, and eggplant. They are rich in antioxidants, and the color comes from anthocyanins which helps protect the heart.

So do like Skittles and taste the rainbow; but go for the natural, healthy rainbow instead of the sugary nutritionally-empty rainbow!  You’ll find that pot o’ health in the end.

A New Twist on Orange Juice

Good morning, sleepy heads!! (Ok, honestly, I have no idea how tired you are – but with the pace life seems to move, it’s probably a fair guess. That, and it’s early for me as I’m typing this.)

Today I decided to do my juice a little differently.

Most people buy their orange juice from the store. Have you ever had fresh squeezed orange juice? Oh so yum! But when you juice a fruit, you leave out so much! You’re getting mostly water and natural sugars with some vitamins – but you lose the fiber and some of the great phytochemicals with it.

So today, rather than juice my oranges, I just blended them! Leave on some of the white pithy parts – it’s good cancer-fighting fiber – and get all the lovely pulp blended up nice and smooth. It’s actually almost a creamy juice with all of that. (*Note: the pith can be bitter, so experiment with how much you can leave on. You may want to start low and gradually leave more and more in your blend as you acquire a taste for it)

And to chill it, you can either pour it over ice, add ice and make it more of a slushy, or – my fun twist for the day – I used frozen mango. So simple, so good, so healthy.

Oranges are extremely rich in that wonderful antioxidant, vitamin C, packing over 100% of the RDA recommendations in one fruit.  Another component in oranges, the molecule herperidin, is now being studied for its ability to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as work as an anti-inflammatory agent. But herperidin is found more in that white pith and the peel, so try to keep what you can of that white goodness.

Mango has a lovely beauty combo: vitamin A and vitamin C, good for skin, tissue health, and bone health. And the beta carotene is also great for healthy vision. Plus the extra 3g of fiber in mangoes doesn’t hurt, either!

  • Orange Juice With a Twist
    1 orange, peeled and quartered (get out what seeds you can)
    1/2 c frozen, chopped mango
    water to blend

Toss it all in the blender, and whirr away! 

Drink up! This is a great variation on a weekend morning juice.

Orange’ya glad I shared this?  Hyuck, hyuck…

Heart Healthy Treat

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here’s a quick little recipe that’s heart healthy and tasty for lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day.

Spiced Walnut Truffles

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 c walnuts
  • 1 c raisins (or chopped dates)
  • 1/4 c agave (or honey or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • cacao powder for dusting

Directions

  1. In a food processor, process walnuts into a flour-like powder, leaving some slightly larger bits for texture, if desired.  Scrape into another bowl and set aside
  2. Process raisins and sweetener until a textured paste.
  3. Add back walnuts and other remaining items. Quickly pulse a few times until you have a crumbly dough that will stick together when rolled. I like to leave it unprocessed enough that there are little raisin bits in it. If you over process it, you may need to chill or lightly freeze the dough to make it more workable.
  4. Form into little balls (makes about 30) and then leave plain, roll in the dark cocoa powder, or roll in other items (hemp seeds, shredded coconut, dust of spices, cacao nibs…) Or for a bigger splurge, melt some organic chocolate bars (70% or higher cocoa, please!) and dip them for the chocolate indulgence. Ahhhh, heaven!

These will freeze well for several months, or even keep in the fridge for a while. Pull 3-4 out of the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge (frozen raisin bits are not pleasant on the teeth!) Don’t thaw too many, or you just may eat them all at once! 😉

Recipe from http://www.DublinDietitian.com

 

In addition to their fiber, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin E, walnuts have more omega-3 fatty acids than other nuts, and a good source of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)! Omegas and MUFAs are heart healthy, providing protective benefits against cardiovascular problems, help with blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. They are also an anti-inflammatory that may help asthma, arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis. These little guys also contain ellagic acid which may help the immune system and be a cancer fighter.

And what do walnuts look like? Little brains! So guess what? Walnuts are good for brain function. Your brain has a high amount of structural fats in it, and omega-3 fats are very important to keep neurons firing efficiently.

Good little walnut soldiers, all in rows!

I digress – I wanted to focus on hearth health benefits of walnuts for the holiday; but walnuts just have so much goodness! So, keep enjoying those omega-rich nuts in moderation.  Roll out some truffles, toss a batch in the freezer to keep on hand for later, and enjoy a cozy weekend!

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Simple Crave-Control Technique

I am getting ready to kick off a lovely three day weekend! Hopefully you have some enjoyable things planned.

I hope to just relax.

And along with relaxing – breathing!

(Well, of course you’re going to breath, silly girl – like you have a choice?!)

But I mean more than just normal breathing. You may already be familiar with the connection between breathing and stress reduction. If you’re not, here’s the skinny: slow, deep breaths can help reduce stress!

That’s it! Simple!  Try to fill all three compartments of your lungs – breathe into the belly region, and expand the air in the ribs, and then lift the chest with oxygen-rich air.

But I find another benefit to a few deep breaths: regaining control over food cravings.

The conflict of food can be a real source of stress and anxiety for many people – myself included. When something is presented in front of me, my mind beings to wage war – The tongue is screaming to indulge; the body is asking for healthy foods. While it’s subtle, I have noticed that I start to tense up – my mind races between motivational quips to stop me, and simultaneously dumps a whirlwind of excuses and reasonings as to why indulgence is “okay this time.” (Don’t get me wrong – occasional indulgence IS fine. I’m taking about an on-going, too-often occurrence!)

When a person is anxious, breathing naturally shallows into just the chest, along with a host of other automatic processes. But if you intervene, force yourself to calm down and breathe deeply, quiet your mind, I find you may be able to regain control and lessen the stress.

It’s not fool-proof, but it has helped me many a’time!

Hang in there, enjoy life, smile, and know you are lovely!

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