Sunday, March 28, 2010

Immunity Tea!

Well, the warm weather was nice while it lasted (and it's supposed to be back soon!) But, this weekend had some cool moments.

Dave and I went out for a jog Friday after work. The temperature dipped in synchronization with the sun dipping behind the hills as it set. By the time we finished our four miles, his nose was cold, my hands were half-numb, and I could feel my body tiring. As soon as we got home, I turned on the stove to heat some water.

Tea time!

Lemon, of course, is a Vitmain-C packed power house, so half a lemon was squeezed into the warmed water (not too hot, remember!) and sprinkled in some cinnamon. In Chinese teas, cinnamon is used to help with circulation, keeping the blood (and thus white blood cells) moving! Is this proven? I'm honestly not sure and haven't seen official studies, but it sure tastes good, and cinnamon has other health properties! :) Cayenne has also been considered a circulation-stimulating spice, and I have also done ginger-clove-cayenne teas before. But tonight I wanted lemon!

Keep warm, keep healthy, and we should be back to warm days soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


"Don't be intimidated by the impossibility...
Be motivated by the possibility!"

Hang in there even when you're feeling overwhelmed! Just take it one day at a time - or even just one moment at a time! Relax, breath, and enjoy the moment!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Junk The Juice

At my job, one of the daily topics is JUICE.

Juice - the wonders of marketing schemes.
For the most part, juice is a waste of money. Yes, even "all natural, no sugar added, 100% juice" juices. Juice is a highly-processed form of fruit that essentially leads to nothing more than sugar water - heck, the natural vitamin C of the fruit usually isn't even there! That "100% of your Vitamin C needs" is mostly just added back in after all the processing! (That's the "ascorbic acid" on the ingredient list.) So, if you are squuuuueeeezing out all the liquid from the fruit, what do you get? Water, sugar.
The bigger question: what are you NOT getting? Fiber, phytochemicals, enzymes, and the other aspects of the "whole package" that the fruit was supposed to come with.

Most juices will contain 28 grams of sugar per serving (and if you get one of those lovely 20-ounce bottles, check the label! They usually are not 1 serving, but 2.5 so you're getting 70 grams of sugar and about 275 calories in the whole bottle!)

How much sugar is 28 grams?

That's almost the same as what you'll find in most soda! (And we've been over the lack of health THERE!) Check out this video! (Thanks to Marshall Brain, who also brought us the books on How Things Work!)

There are 7 teaspoons in 8 ounces of sugar... or over 1 tablespoon!

And do you wonder WHY they add so much sugar to pop? To cover the salty taste with all it's sodium! Why do they have so much sodium? To make you feel thirsty and therefore want more cool, "refreshing" soda! (Or so some theories go. I wouldn't be surprised!)

Push the water, try some teas, and really limit or eliminate your sugary processed junk! And if you want juice, make your own! Or just blend it so you can keep all the wonderful benefits that come with it. Good things DO come in small packages! :)

Happy Hydrated Friday!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

God's Pharmacy - The Carrot

I recently received an email from my mom entitled "God's Pharmacy" where it went through various foods, and discussed their visual similarities to the body part that it has been shown to benefit.

I am not here to start a debate on beliefs - you believe what you want, I know my stance. Whether it's Mother Nature, God, coincidence, or just a cool mneumonic device - this cool email also makes a healthy point: these are some good, wholesome, fresh foods that have a lot of value and should be incorporated in to your food intake!

Over time, I want to touch on each of these foods one a time to look at the glory of each, and see what kinds of recipes we can find to incorporate these into a healthy, low-processed diet. Again - you don't need to be 100% raw, but those are my favorite recipes since they maintain the most nutritional content. So the first item on the email....

*Drum roll pleaseeeee.... *

The Carrot! (Of course, you probably knew that from the title of this blog, you clever person, you!)

What's up, Doc!

Here's what the email says about the mighty carrot: "A sliced Carrot resembles the human eye including the pupil, iris, and radiating lines. Science indicates that carrots help protect the vision, especially night vision." Pretty cool, huh?

Yes, vitamin A is wonderful for helping eye vision! Vitamin A travels to the retina, and there it is converted into rhodopsin, a purple pigment that is necessary for night-vision. (wow! Orange to purple! Odd factoid - the first carrots of Asia and Middle East countries were naturally purple!! Hmm, I wonder if you can find those in American stores these days...)

Plus beta-carotene's powerful antioxidant actions help provide protection against macular degeneration and the development of age-related cataracts.

But what else is good about the carrot? Retinoic acids (a form of Vitamin A) are important for healthy skin cells. Keep that skin glowing! It may also help fight acne (always a plus!)

In addition to the beta-carotine that it's popular for, carrots are also being studied for their content of Falcarinol, a phytonutrient that may help reduce certain cancers! Carrots may help prevent cancer of the breast, ladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus.

So that's a lot for one food to do! But we're not through! Believe it, baby - there's more!

Carrots (and other carontenoid-rich foods) may also help with blood sugar regulation - it can help keep you from having those big peaks that least to pesky crashes. Ugg! So snack on Old Orange (the carrot – or the citrus fruit!), and keep your energy level over time.

Carrots are an incredible source of Vitamin A - with 1 cup providing over 680% of the daily recommended value! It is also a good source of vitamins K and C, fiber, and potassium - which is used in building muscle and normal growth, maintaining balance of fluids and acid/alkaline levels, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism.

Just remember the ol' Dirty Dozen list... carrots are among the top twelve produce items on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. So go organic, and wash well!

So, some easy recipe ideas:

*Soak carrot sticks in hot water spiced with cayenne, coriander seeds and salt. Allow to cool, drain and serve. (ok, ok, not raw - but still healthy!!)

*Or, if savory isn't your thing and you prefer sweet - soak with a cinnamon stick, some raisins and/or apples, cloves, and a drizzle of honey.

*A simple slaw: shred carrots, apple, and spinach. Toss with organic raisins and drizzle with a light dressing of cold-pressed extra virgil olive oil or squeezed citrus. Season as desired! (Sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cilantro… whatever floats your boat).

*Juice it, baby! Then run the pulp through the juicer another time or two to make sure it's good and juiced. Save the pulp (it freezes well) and use it for other recipes! I like to juice a blend of carrot and orange personally! Get a nice mix of sweet and savory.

So, Bugs Bunny has good eyes and a cancer-free colon! What a wasculy wabbit!

Well, that was a long one, but finally I can say: "(aba-dee, aba-dee) That's all, Folks!" :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

So... can ya guess what I'm going to encourage on such a holiday?

Not green beer...

Green smoothies!!!

Seriously, they are a wonderful way to kick start your day! Especially if you're planning a foam-filled evening of partying ;-)

Or maybe commit to one smoothie in the morning after your night out. The vitamins and minerals, as well as the high percentage of water may just help even things out! There's not really a "cure" for a hang-over, but you can take steps to rebalance your health after too much indulgence.

Treat your liver by getting organics. Since you're liver is already going to be busy detoxing the alcohol (yes, alcohol is considered a TOXIC component in your body!) so don't add to its job load with making it have to detoxify pesticides and chemicals. Maybe toss in some of those liver-promoting cruciferous veggies like kale, collard greens, or cabbage. Or snack on broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussle sprouts. Add sulfur-containing onions and garlic to a salad to help boost liver function.

Whatever you do, I hope you have a festive and fun day!
Sláinte! (Cheers!)
(Now THERE'S a green drink!) ;-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Plastic Problems

This post is based on a short email conversation between me and my sister. She was asking about dioxin and plastic bottles. While I haven’t heard anything (yet?) about a connection with those two, there is a potential concern between plastic bottles and Bishenol A, or BPA. So let’s look at that!

There are more studies now about BPA leeching out of plastics when the plastics are heated, and possibly leading to health complications, including breast and prostate cancer, as well as infertility. So the theory comments on things like heating foods in plastic containers in the microwave; pouring hot or boiling coffee, tea, or other drinks into plastic travel mugs; letting water bottles sit in hot cars during the summer; etc. In theory, the BPA may leech out of the plastic into the beverage you drink. One of my good friends bought me a special stainless steel water bottle since I drink water all day long at work and I had been asking her about this topic as well :)

Water in the car may not even be the beginning of the issue - I was listening to a lecture the other day, and one of the doctors on said that just in transporting bottled water to stores, the trucks aren't kept at any specific temps, so often the bottles get overly hot in transport and have leeched chemicals by the time they get to the store. He didn't say what the best option was for water.

The Environmental Working Group (a group I'm finding I like, more and more!) say: "Avoid eating or drinking from polycarbonate plastics – used in such products as hard plastic baby bottles, 5 gallon water cooler bottles, hard plastic water bottles, plastic silverware, and Lexan products. You can check for the type of plastic on the bottom of the bottle – polycarbonate bottles may be labeled with recycling number 7 ("Other" type of plastic) or may contain the letters "PC" below the recycling symbol. Bisphenol A may leach out of these types of bottles into your beverage or food. Alternatives include bottles and other materials made from glass, stainless steel, or polypropylene bottles labeled number 5 on the bottom (translucent, not transparent)." lists a few more numbers: "check the number shown on the bottom of each container, and throw out any marked with a 3, 6, or 7. Safe plastics (made without BPA) are the ones numbered 2, 4, and 5. To be sure, check the packaging for terms like "without BPA" or "BPA-free," or contact the manufacturer if in doubt. And when you are reheating food in the microwave, use glass containers instead of plastic ones."

(My plastic water bottle has the number 1 on it - of course, the one number not listed. I should just go back to my stainless steel bottl!) But that's some info for ya regarding bottles! :)

EWG also did a study that found “For 1 in 10 cans of all food tested, and 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving contained enough BPA to expose a woman or infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government's traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals.”

Dave and I do filtered water at home, and we don't own a microwave. But I admit that I drink tap water all day at work. I tend to drink a good 2 liters a day, and it's just been easier to refill my bottle at the fountain rather than heft 2 liters of filtered water on the 15 minute walk from my car to my office every day. (Hmmm, I wonder if I could get a tiny individual cup filter...) We try to limit canned foods; and if I ever had a baby, I would 100% try to breastfeed! (There’s nothing like the real thing, baby!)

More from EWG: "The insidious nature of environmental pollutants is a deeply disturbing fact of modern life.” There are pollutants everywhere, and it seems sometimes the best you can do is just do your best! Unfortunately, we don’t have the option to live in Eden right now, so just try to make every day your own little beautiful Eden wherever you are with whatever you have!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Words: Dietitian, Nutritionist

(Awww, why thanks!! It's so nice to be remembered!) ;-)

Yep, RD's were given today in thanks, so I thought: what better time to talk about what that term means, than a Wednesday Words Day on National RD Day!

There are so many terms you may hear floating around out there: Dietitian, Nutritionist, Wellness Coach, Nutrition Coach, Dietologist, etc, etc, etc. What does it mean? Well, that depends where you live...

Each state has different laws. But in some states, certain titles can be used by anyone. Any Joe or Jane off the street can call themselves a Nutritionist, a Nutrition Wellness Coach, a Dietologist, etc, post a sign, and start their own business. There is no regulation for what sort of education they had, or what training they went through. Only in some states will "Nutritionist" be allowed ONLY for people who are ALSO "Dietitians." This is not to say that all are bad!!! There are some very educated, helpful individuals out there with this title. The bottom line is "Buyer Beware!" While there are many people able to help, there are also many people looking to help who may not have proper education, or people who may take advantage of consumers who are looking for genuine help whether they are offering a product or a service. Do your research, and get second, third, fourth... opinions if you need them.

"Dietitian," is protected nationwide, and strictly regulated through the Commission on Dietetic Registration. In order to claim that title, you have to have completed a degree at an approved college, undergone an internship with a minimum of 900 hours of supervised practice, passed a national registry test, and then continue to do approved continuing education as long as you hold the title.

I just like to point out the differences, and note that people should be careful of whom they trust with their time, money, and health. You should feel confident in asking any professional about their education and experience and seeing their credentials.

One common misconception about dietitians is that they are "institutionalized," obsessed with calorie counting and providing formulaic meal plans, rather than holistically treating a patient as an individual. I have seen sites that try to discredit dietitians by saying "While most dietitians dwell on calories, carbs, fats, proteins, restrictions and lists of good and bad foods, I work with my clients to create a happy, healthy life in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial and discipline." *siiiigh.* This is not true at all! (As you've seen in old posts - I don't calorie count!)

I have also heard that "dietitians are too Westernized" - being focused on treating symptoms and working to pump supplements and medicines. Each dietitian is different, and each with have their own opinions about alternative treatments. Through the American Dietitic Association, there is a dietetic practice group I joined called "Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine" (DIFM) which is made of dietitians who feel especially passionate towards learning about natural health, prevention, and studying more into herbal treatments. This group "focuses on complementary therapies that include vitamin and mineral supplementation, botanicals and functional foods as well as diverse therapeutic approaches."
So, some food for thought :)
I'm going to go enjoy my evening! See you soon!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Skin Deep

My friend Kelli turned me on to this site, and I wanted to pass it on to you!

Skin Deep is a site run by the Enviromental Working Group, a group dedicated to natural health and protecting the environment.
Your skin is really just one big organ! We so often forget about it when thinking about nutrition; but what you put ON your body is important, just like what you put IN your body! I haven't found a specific statistic, but I have read that your skin can absorb upwards of 60% of what you put on it - whether that's lotion, deoderant, shower items, nail polish, make-up... So while you're taking steps to add health-promoting foods to your diet, make sure you consider what your body may be absorbing from the outside!

The Skin Deep website lets you look at products you may be using, and lets you know what ingredients may be potentially dangerous. They even have list for things like dental floss! Wow! I haven't gotten that detailed yet, but it's always fun to look in to!

Happy Tuesday, and keep taking your steps to health!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Going Green!

It's been a while since I've been able to post! Sorry about that!

This weekend was crazy! I did a training session on Understanding Poverty, had a long lunch double-date with some good friends, celebrated another friend's birthday, and crawled around an attic for several hours trying to lay down insulation! Phew!

With all the cold weather, electric bills for heat were racking up for some people, so Dave and I got to help with brand new insulation for them! Now I know - if you ever buy a house, check the attic! Make sure that a) the insolation there will last for ever, or b) you have room to move! Haha! I had to crawl on all fours, and sometimes even slither on my stomach to duck under support beams, and then try to roll out giant rolls of fiber glass - all while wearing a thick breathing mask (which should be called a low-oxygen suffocation mask considering how little air comes through!) and goggles that fog with every breath!
But it was great :) And if it helps save energy and help lower heating bills in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, it was worth it! (Though we didn't finish, and will have to go back hopefully just one more time.) Maybe I'll take a picture next time - quite the sight with knee pads, goggles, mask, and gloves.

And so today, instead of my normal veggie-abundant meals, I am enjoying the love-filled leftovers of chili and corn bread that they sent us home with. Not so green in the food department, but wonderful and so appreciated!

So now, you too can Go Green with a Registered Dietitian in more ways that one if you need insulation! ;-) (Well, maybe... it's really not all that fun to do!)