Thursday, July 29, 2010

My "Staycation"

Good morning! I am taking some time off of work for once - and NOT going anywhere or doing anything major.

I guess that has become termed a "staycation" when you just stay home.
But I am using it to get myself recharged and revamped. Work has been particularly tiresome lately, and I have had cabin fever brewing! I did not want my entire summer to get away from me without getting to enjoy some of it!

So yesterday, Dave and I took a mini-road trip to have dinner with my dad. Today I took a glorious run outside!

Four miles, high humidity, few people - perfect! And what made it extra perfect? I saw a family of deer crossing my path as I went! This beautiful doe walked out, followed by her two little fawns - fresh with the baby fuzz and white spots! I wished so badly that I had my camera! They didn't seem particularly scared by me. I slowed to a walk, and tried to approach. Of course, they didn't let me get TOO close, but probably within 5 feet or so! Then they just lazily continued across the path into the brush.

And what fantastic colors there are on the trails now! So many bright colored flowers have blossomed up and wave gently in the air! Lovely, lovely, lovely! So it was quite a rejuvenating run, and at the end I had my wonderful coconut water waiting (no chemical, artificially colored and sweetened sports drinks for me, thanks!) and I took my shoes off and did some stretching in the grass. (I really need to get myself a good portable mat.) I came home and made a "Blue-Green Power Smoothie." Quite an interesting drink, but rich in revitalizing potassium, replenishing coconut electrolytes, powerful proteins, and more!

So my goals for each day of my staycation: study, sweat, and snack on all natural foods!
(With maybe one splurge night at Dave's request...)

And do some relaxation/meditation in quiet, and of course have fun!

Don't forget to take time for yourself! With all the balls you juggle - family, job, classes, gym time, taking care of friends, dealing with housework or car repairs... you need to make sure you keep yourself healthy and energized! Slow down, take a few breaths, and take 15 minutes at least for yourself! I am spoiling myself with a full 5 days for me, but... well, I am blessed that I have that option right now :)

Love to you all! Take care!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Words: Phytonutrients and Phytochemicals

Happy Hump Day! Halfway through the week, and hopefully going strong!

Today is a set of definitions. Perhaps you are familiar with these terms, or have at least heard them. Phytochemcials and Phytonutrients have been popular health buzz words in the past, and I think they have been seen as just some abstract term that comes across simply as “something healthy.” If you food is “rich in phytonutrients!” or “has healthy phytochemicals!” you think “oh, great! That must be some good stuff!” And it is! ...But what are they?

Phytochemical and Phytonutrient are actually interchangeable - so I guess really, today's Wednesday Words is more "Wednesday Word." :)

"Phyto-" comes from the Greek word for “plant.” So then, these words are simply broad terms referring to a multitude of nutrients and chemicals that come from plants! And, I know, I know – I keep pushing fruits and veggies… but don’t forget that other good plant sources include legumes, nuts, whole grains, and even tea!

Phytonutrients include a huge amount of chemicals that we’re only beginning to discover. In fact, in one little orange, there may be over 170 different types of phytonutrients!

Some of the known phytonutrient compounds can include allicin, carotenoids, chlorophyll and chlorophyllin, curcumin, flavonoids, indoles, isoflavones, isothiocyanates, phenolics, phytosterols, and resveratrol! Whew! Those are just some of the many different types of phytonutrients!

And, as I touched on in an earlier post about ‘Drinking a Rainbow,’ different phytonutrients correspond with different health benefits. An American Dietetic Association group I belong to - Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM) - sent out their quarterly newsletter with a large article on the different colors and how Americans are doing with regards to getting enough.

In short, for the most part, most Americans are not getting enough plant foods at all! And that's looking at the small current recommendation of 5 servings per day. The USDA is considering increasing to 10 per day because of how integral produce is to a healthy life!

The article is phenomenal, and maybe I can give a summary review of it soon! But those definitions are all for today!

Blend your way to a phytonutrient goldmine with a green smoothie! ;-)


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Tea!

After showing you my glorious over flowing garden, I figured I'd share with you my tea! (And I'll literally share it with you if you come visit!) ;-)

Peppermint oil has long been thought of as a tummy soother - helping with nausea, indigestion, IBS, and other such ailments. It also may be a cancer fighter! In animal studies, it stopped the growth of pancreatic, mammary, and liver tumors! Peppermint oil is also a natural anti-microbial, killing off nasty bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori (which may cause stomach ulcers), Salmonella, E. coli, and the "super bug" methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)!

And, take a big breath of fresh air, because peppermint oil can help your respiratory system!So here is it: a simple, beautiful tea - just a few peppermint leaves, two stevia leaves for sweetness, and warmed (not hot!) water. I crushed the leaves in between my fingers to help release their natural flavor, then let it sit in the warm water for a few minutes.

Simple, Sip, Ahhhh!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Wrap It Up, Raw Style!

Hello, lovely people! The week is finally over, and it is time to relax with the family!

But I posted about sprouting/soaking grains, and wanted to share my experiment! So here it is... TADA!!!
My first attempt with soaked wild rice - it required soaking for 2-3 days. That may sound like a lot of work, but it was really easy! Just filled up a glass container with water and rice, then rinsed it 2-3 times each day and refilled with clean water. By the third day, it was soft and chewy! Granted, not as soft as if it had been cooked, but I actually found I liked the heartier texture!

So, after that was ready, I added in some raw corn (corn is really important to get organic!), some black beans (those were cooked), diced in tomato, and seasonings! And we were all ready for Veggie Wraps Raw Style! (...if you ignore the cheese and salsa that Dave wanted!) ;-)

This was such a nice picnic dinner! We just set the tray on the floor, popped in a movie, and wrapped the rice blend in the Romaine leaves! Admittedly, it was a little messy, but hey - living messy can be living fun!!!

This is definitely a recipe I will want to repeat! If you don't count the prep-time of the rice (since that's really not labor intensive) I pulled this thing together in all of 5 to 10 minutes, and got such a healthy, hearty meal from it!

Veggie Wraps Raw Style
2 c. wild rice, soaked 2-3 days
1 ear organic corn
1 tomato, diced
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
seasonings as desired - experiment with what you like! Cumin, cilantro, cayenne, sea salt...
4-6 Romaine leaves
Optional: get some healthy fats from diced avocado; get a bonus health boost with minced garlic; add some spice and color with raw red onion; try other leaves like collards or dinosaur kale for a deeper green wrap; and mostly... HAVE FUN EXPERIMENTING!!
Cut the corn off the ear, add it to the rice. Then add in the diced tomato, the beans, and seasonings. Scoop into a Romaine leaf, wrap as best you can, and enjoy with napkins nearby!

(Traditional Wild Rice Harvesting)

A USDA review of the health benefits of wild rice states "Nutritionally, wild rice has several attributes that set it aside from many other cereals. Wild rice has a higher protein content than most cereals. Also, for a cereal, it has an adequate balance of the essential amino acids." (cereals being oats, wheats, other rices, and corn.)

It has about twice the protein as brown rice (almost 24g per cup if eaten raw!) and, while not a high-fat item, wild rice does contain a little bit of the wonderful Omega-6 essential fatty acid, linoleic acid! And, other than calcium, wild rice has more nutrients that brown rice regarding iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin!

I am not saying all that to bash brown rice! Brown rice is a still a healthy option with its own benefits over wild rice! I am just trying to motivate you to try something new, if you haven't yet! :)

So have a wonderful weekend, and go try something new!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Words: Whole Grains 201 - Sprouting!

Hello, class! Welcom back to your finally Whole Grains class! (For now... who knows when more fun information will pop up!) I know you've been rivited waiting for this! :-P
Pop quiz:

1. What are the three edible parts of a grain?

2. What are the two power-packed parts that are usually reduced or removed when processing for refined, white flour products?

3. What should the first ingredient be when choosing a Whole Grain? What should it NOT be?

4. What types of oats should you avoid due to sugars and other additives?

5. You're not actually planning to write out answers to these, are you?

I hope maybe you can recall at least a few of those answers! But if not...

1) bran, germ, endosperm
2) brand, germ
3) "whole" ___ (wheat flour, oat flour, etc) not "Refined" or "enriched"
4) flavored instant oats! (Oat groats are the least processed, followed by steal-cut, then you get into your rolled oats and quick-cookers. These are all healthy!)
5) probably not ;-)

So on to sprouting!

Sprouting seeds and grains for nutrition is a concept I only came across in the last year or so, when I was studying different type of diets. Raw foodists will not cook food, so when it comes to grains, they will often soak them to the point that the little germ begins to grow a tail! It sprouts! (Remember, the germ is the baby seed within the kernel that can grow another plant!) The theory is that is has all this awesome nutritional power locked in that seed - after all, it has to grown another plant! (Though usually, you grown your seed in nutrient-rich soil, so, sometimes foodies grow their sprouts in little trays of soil - but that's more intensive.)

Remember the ol' school days when you took a sunflower seed, laid it on a damp papertowel, then pressed it against a clear cup so you could see it? Eventually, it began to sprout and grow a sunflower! It's the same concept - using water to begin the growth process of the plant, since the seed has growth-inhibitors on it allowing it to remain dormant until it is time to stretch and grow! However, in sprouting, instead of letting the seed fully grow into a new plant, once the tail has grown a bit (anywhere from a few centimeters to a few inches) people will eat them! They may be added to salads, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies...

Now, since at first I had only seen raw foodists promoting sprouting (and sometimes over promoting as some magical cure-all...) I was skeptical. I have bought broccoli sprouts from the store now and then just for variety on my salads. But I finally found a site that convinced me to give it a more serious look. The Whole Grain Counsel has a page on sprouting, and the science and research behind it. Nice! Of course, there are also some studies saying there is no benefit... who do you believe? The jury is still out, sadly. But, hey, maybe give it a try yourself and just see what you think!

You can sprout your own grains, but for now, I just wanted to share about products made from sprouted grains. (I know, I know - I usually say to try to limit processed foods - but unless you want me to get into the details of the sprout-it-yourself process, this is a more convenient option for now!)

The fisrt brand I heard of was Ezekiel Breads, and also Genesis Breads - and they fanned out beyond just breads into tortillas, English muffins, ground flours, and other grain products! (I am not specifically endoring those brands above others - they are just the two I have seen in my store. Look around! Experiment! Try something new!) They are usually stored in the freezer section of stores, and do tend to cost more. I go through them slowly, so I don't mind it now and then as a treat! I also like them for the flavor - they get some good hearty flavors iwth pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and other wonderful nutty additions!

So, the Whole Grains Counsel has a page on sprouted products, and here are some key points form it:

-some people find these products easier to digest since the enzymes have helped begin the process of breaking down the large-chain carbohydrate molecules
-increase the amount and bio-availability (ease for your body to use) some vitamins
-increases many of the grains' key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids often lacking in grains, such as lysine
-may also be less allergenic to those with grain protein sensitivities
-sprouted brown rice fights diabetes, reduces cardiovascular risk
-sprouted buckwheat protects against fatty liver disease.
-sprouted barley decreases blood pressure

So hopefully research will continue in this area, but the outlook is promising! I have actually been soaking some wild rice for the last few days, and hope to try a new recipe with that tonight! I'll keep ya posted on that!

Allrighty then! That's it for whole grains! There's the bell; time for lunch; class dismissed!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Container Garden Update!

Hey guys! How is your day treating you? With much peace and patience, I hope!
It's been a while since Dave and I first brought home our baby container garden... and I wanted to show you our big, beautiful mini garden! The broccoli is overflowing, the stevia can't hold itself up anymore, and the herbs are still a delight! If you have the ability to start a container garden, I highly recommend it! It's been so easy, and I know exactly what I put on my plants! Good and organic and natural!! ...I'm still not sure the broccoli will bear any edible blossoms for us (though that may just be my impatience coming through!) but the herbs have been great from day one! I love making my chocolate mint tea (or sometimes - shhh! - flavoring coffee... but not often!), and using oregano to season salads and dinners.
And it just takes watering it now and then (with the wet summer we've had, that's been easy!) and adding some organic fertilizer once a month. Simple!
Have a great day, guys and gals! It's time for me to get back to my salad!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Loving Cafe, Vegetarian Foods

Happy Weekend!!!!

As a weekend treat, instead of slaving in the kitchen, Dave and I decided to go out to eat!

The Loving Cafe is a volunteer-based (read: "more affordable for the customer!") vegetarian/vegan restaurant that promotes "green" eating - local, organic, sustainable foods! So, of course, I had to go try them out!

And it is such a nice little place! A small back room is bright and spacious, with a cute little waterfall set up. Service was friendly, and the food was declicious!! ...Not necessarily healthy - after all, refined grains, abundant soy cheese, and oils for deep frying are technically vegetarian...

But it was still a fun experience, and even Dave LOVED his vegan steak burger! (He was more surprised than anyone!)

And I just went with the sampler platter: salad, spring roll, veggie wrap, soy mac and cheese, soy ziti, and various forms of mock chicken, including a BBQ drum stick and chicken fried rice.

I will opt to avoid the processed soy in the future most likely, but the salad was good, and they do have many other recipes that looked great! Raw pizza, kelp-noodle veggie pasta, Black Rice burger... all sorts of fun things to experiment with!

On their website, The Loving Cafe lists some of their reasons for "Why Go Veg?"

Conserves up to 70% clean water
Saves over 70% of the Amazonian rainforest from clearance for animal grazing
A solution for world hunger: Free up 3,433 million hectares of land annually Free up 760 million tons of grain every year (half the world’s grain supply)
Consumes 2/3 less fossil fuels than those used for meat production.
Reduces pollution from untreated animal waste
Maintains cleaner air
Saves 4.5 tons of emissions per US household per year
Stop 80% of global warming
Lower blood pressure
Lower cholesterol levels
Reduce Type 2 diabetes
Prevent stroke conditions
Reverse atherosclerosis
Reduce heart disease risk by 50%
Reduce heart surgery risk by 80%
Prevent many forms of cancer
Stronger immune system
Increase life expectancy up to 15 years
Higher IQ

So, there's some food for thought :)
I hope you're having a wonderful weekend, and getting plenty of water! It's a HOT one!


(Sorry! I didn't think to photograph my plate till after I'd already eaten some of it!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Whole Grains 103 - Oats

Hello, hello, and welcome back, my dear students! Welcome to the last of three posts on Whole Grains! Unless, of course, you count the post on sprouted grains... but that's more a bonus material post! Sorry for the delay (I'm sure you were all just so rivetted to your chairs about this...)

So, did you do your homework and check that you're getting the true whole grain breads??

Today we'll look at oats - they, too, are a type of whole grain! So, without further ado, here are the different forms of oats, and what it means:

Oat Bran: like discussed before, this would be the bran - or outter layer - of the oat kernel. This is sometimes removed for certain forms of oats; but often left in tact for rolled and steel cut oats.

Oat Flour: finley ground oats, often mixed with standard wheat flour, used for baking.

Oat Groats: the least processed form of oats - the kernel is left in tact. This makes it a tougher texture; you may want to soak groats before using in order to soften.

Steel-Cut Oats: Oat groats that have been run through blades (of steel, of course) to make them more thinly sliced.

Old-Fashioned/Rolled Oats: groats that have been steamed and then flattened with a roller.

Quick-Cooking Oats: groats that have not only been steamed and flattened, but also cut into smaller pieces for quicker cooking.

Instant Oatmeal: Groats that have been cut, steamed, and rolled, and often slightly pre-cooked.

So there you have it! The various types of oat forms! While the nutrient value of each probably is similar, there's just always a draw for me towards the least-processed form available. But all forms (except perhaps instant if they have extra sugars and colorings and funky dinosaur eggs added) will be rich in cholesterol-lowering fibers! So go dive in to a whole-grain-goodness bowl of oatmeal some time!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Broccoli: The Cancer Fighter!

A quick little recipe for today...
Steamed broccoli + flax seeds + tumeric = antioxidant and cancer-fighting powerhouse!
(Go easy on the tumeric - it's got a strong flavor!)
Broccoli, part of the cruciferous family, has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing cancer. Tumeric, too, is now being studied for its health properties! There's an entire article on it in a Scientific America I have at home - I will have to review that for you all soon! But today, I just wanted to share this simple side dish!



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Peach Ice Cream!

As the sun sets on this warm evening, I turn to my last peach recipe for this week: Peach Ice Cream! (Or, "ice kream" as I have seen it called since it's not actually dairy!)

This simple, succulent dessert took about 5 minutes to whip up:

2 sliced bananas, frozen
2 peaches, pitted and diced
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla

In food processor, process frozen bananas until smooth - soft serve consistency. Then add peaches, honey, and vanilla and whip until smooth!

Then I topped with a dollop of Chocolate Fruit Dip, and a mint sprig. How pretty! :)

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Spiral Slicer!

So a while back, I'd read about this cool kitchen gadget called a spiral slicer... and I HAD to have one! It may seem like a goofy novelty, and most likely, it is. But I love it!
It can serve many functions, but they all basically boil down to slicing food into rings or strands. But what I mainly use it for is cutting zucchini into spaghetti-like noodles. It's such a great replacement for pasta! Fresh, healthy produce with no processing! (I am not saying pasta is evil, per se, but just offering a fresh alternative!)
So Dave and I spiral-sliced a whole plate of zucchini, and threw in a little carrot for fun! The texture is a little crisper than pasta, but Dave has admitted that - despite his history of full-on cringing every time I mention zucchini! - he loves this raw pasta version :)
(shhhh! Processed sauce AND cheese! Don't tell! We're getting there!)
Admittedly, our sauce is not home-made... yet! We've experimented with several tomato sauce recipes, and just haven't found one we like. But I'm sure we'll find one some day!

You don't have to have a fancy spiral slicer to make this - really, just take a potato peeler and make some fettuccine-like noodles! Easy and fresh! A fun way to mix things up with your pasta!
Or, heck, just throw your standard pasta on a bed of fresh spinach greens and you'll be getting an extra dose of health that way! Any step to add some health power to a meal is good :)
Have a wonderful weekend!! See you back here soon!
Spiral Smiles!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Peach Wrap

I love it when I can eat a dessert for a meal! And last night, I did just that! I needed to use some more of those luscious peaches that I have hanging around, and figured I'd try a wrap! So here's a simple recipe:

Peach Wrap (makes 2)
2 whole grain tortillas
4 Tbs Chocolate Fruit Dip
1 Peach
Handful nuts
Cinnamon to taste

So, I used a sprouted tortilla (again, I'll post on sprouting later), spread a little of yesterday's Chocolate Fruit Dip on it, layered on half the peach in slices, sprinkled with cinnamon and some nuts, and rolled away! You could also drizzle with honey for an extra sweet treat!

I tried it with almonds on one half, and macadamia nuts on the lower half. Honestly, I couldn't tell too much of a difference - they both added an enjoyable crunch! Either way, I got a good whole grain, some healthy fats, and some juicy fruit! Yummy To Go!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lunch And Learn Recipes

Good Wednesday Day to you all!

Last Wednesday, I presented a Lunch and Learn for some City Health Department employees on the topic of "Can Healthy Taste Good?" With the exception on me boffing the smoothie samples (*siiiigh*) I think it went pretty well! An attentive group of learners, with questions and a good sense of humor! Thanks guys!

I had a few people ask about the recipes I brought as taste tests of healthy and (hopefully) tasty foods! So I wanted to post them here! There are some repeats from prior posts, but this will put them all in one place.

1. Beginner's Smoothie: very fruity, to easily hide the taste of green goodness!
1 pineapple
1-2 cups frozen mixed berries
1 cup spinach, water to thin
OPTIONAL: Sprinkle of sesame seeds
Put it all in a blender, and blend away! (I made the mistake of sprinkling in a few too many sesame seeds - aiming for a little extra kick of calcium, and was told it "smelled like tar." Sorry guys! Keep the sesame seeds to a minimal, or just sprinkle them on salads instead!)

2. Walnut Spice Truffles (also found here): Makes about 30
2 c walnuts
1 c raisins (or chopped dates - or maybe dried cranberries for a festive flair!)
1/4 c agave (or honey or pure maple syrup)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
In a food processor, process walnuts into a moist flour-like powder. Then add the remaining items. Blend it all up until you have a crumbly dough that will hold together when rolled. I like to leave it just 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. Form into little balls and leave plain, or roll into something fancy! Cacao powder, hemp seeds, shredded coconut, dust of spices, cacao nibs... Or for a bigger splurge, melt some organic chocolate bars (70% or higher cacao, please!) and dip them for the chocolate indulgence. 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 a little 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! ;-)

3. Savory Squash Side Dish (Variations here and here)
1 butternut squash
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c pecan pieces
1 Tbs cumin seeds
Dash sea salt

Cut off both ends of squash, and peel with potato peeler, making sure to get rid of green veins. Cube into pieces roughly 1-inch cubes. Process in food processor until rice sized (may want to process in two batches to go easy on your machine!) Put into serving dish. Add remaining ingredients. Can enjoy fresh, or let sit over night to allow flavors to combine. Feel free to adjust amounts based on preference!

4. Dark Chocolate Fruit Dip
1 c Medjool dates, pitted (can use other dates, but these seem to be easiest to find)
1/2 c agave syrup, or honey
2 1/2 to 3 ripe avocados
1 c cacao powder (can use cocoa powder if more convenient, but it is more processed and a little less natural - Hershey's Special Dark makes a nice dip!)
2 tsp vanilla extract (or any extract flavor you may like - orange extract, almond extract, etc!)
In blender or food processor, process dates and syrup or honey; gradually add in avocado flesh and cacao/cocoa powder. Flavor with extract and blend until mixed. Keeps about 1 week in fridge.

So I hope those are some simple starter recipes, trying to get to more natural eating! But, as I discussed with one sweet woman after the session - all in balance! Do what you can! Yes, a health natural diet is important! And I urge everyone to really strive to take steps towards a "gold standard" of health! BUT!! It's not worth being so over-zealous with foods that you spike your stress levels, and your blood pressure rockets through the roof! What good is healthy eating if you're unhealthfully overwhelmed in trying to eat well? One step at a time, one change at a time - balance food, activity, stress management, and an all around positive lifestyle!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Passion For Peaches!

Happy Summer Time!! Guess what fruit is now in season?


And when you get a good peach, it is Oh-So-Good! An okay peach is still pretty tasty, but a great ripe peach is just beyond words!

And I am so thankful that my parents had a ginormous crate of peaches that they were willing to share! We made a drive by the homestead, and swiped about twenty peaches, since they are verging on ripeness! So, this week - it's peach recipes!

And a simple start...

Peach Summer Smoothie:
1 apple
2 large, beautiful peaches
2 c spinach
1 sprig parsley
1/2 c frozen mango
water to thin
Blend, and enjoy the summer sensation!

Parsley's not just for garnishing anymore! A mere two tablespoons will provide you with over 100% of your daily need for Vitamin K! Because of some of its volatile oils, parsley has been labeled a "chemoprotective" food - meaning it can help inhibit tumor growth from various dangerous carcinogens (like benzopyrenes in cigarette smoke or that summer favorite charcoal grill smoke.) It is also rich in various flavonoids (specifically apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin) which make it a rich source of antioxidants! It can actually increase the antioxidant capacity of your blood!

Peaches are a wonderful source of natural sugars, for some good natural energy - but they are also chalk full of nutrients! One peach has 3 grams of healthful fiber, 2 grams of protein, and is a good source of niacin - useful for cholesterol levels, and it's also good for a healthy nervous system, digestive system, and good for healthy skin, hair and eyes! Peaches also pack some good potassium, and has vitamins A and C!

Nothing beats a seasonally ripe peach! But go organic - they're part of that Dirty Dozen highly pesticided fruits. So enjoy some peaches while they're here - and let's see what recipes we can find for peaches (or just enjoy plain!) I have eaten so many peaches already that I may just start to grow some fuzz....


Monday, July 5, 2010

The Day After

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I was blessed with a 3-day weekend thanks to Independence Day! We drove up to visit my relatives in Cleveland - and what a beautiful place we got to see! My uncle took us out on his boat to Lake Erie - so so so peaceful as we got farther from shore and people! He sped us down the water ways, the wind whipping by, but it was so invigorating! Followed by stopping the boat, and just lulling to the waves (and a little bit of the Moody Blues concert could be over heard from a distance!) We also got to check out a national park (I love nature!), saw a small museum display of Lincoln memorabilia, climbed a waterfall, nibbled on wood sorrel ("God's candy!" One of those weeds that you can enjoy!), and relaxed with the relatives. And ate. And ate. Oh, and did I mention - lots of food?

Boy, did we over-indulge! Dave and I enjoyed the all-you-can-eat cornucopia that is always present at the grandparents' :) Three days, three huge meals, and dessert after breakfast?! Yep! Well, that's the love of a grandmother! Such love-filled food, how can you say no?

But, it was a splurge, and I am feeling the bloat today! Ah well, on ward and upward! "Never give up, never surrender"* the fight for good health! So it's back to a week of energy and fresh foods for me! And lots of water to try to help flush out the salty snacks of the weekend.

Just remember - no matter how rough the tumble from the bandwagon, it's always rougher to just lay there and let it run you over than to pick yourself up, smile for the fun foods and times you splurged on, and grab an apple to get you back on track :)

Lots of love - and no judgement of self :)

*Yes, I'm a dork. That's a quote from Galaxy Quest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Immunity Boosting Tea

Good morning!! How's your day going? It was a little nippy out this morning on my way to work! I actually had to grab a light jacket for the walk! But I didn't mind - the sun was still out, and the air was crisp and clean :)

While we usually think of winter as flu season, summer colds are pretty common, too. So protect your health! I had a cold coming on the other day, so I did my little ritual: gargle salt water. I don't know if that's just an old wives tale, or there's scientific research behind it, but it helps! Then I topped it off this morning with...

Immunity Boosting Tea:

12 oz warmed water (not too hot!)
juice of 1 lemon (or lime if you prefer)
a pinch of cayenne powder
a dash of ginger powder (I'm all out of fresh ginger root... sad...)

Mix and sip, and feel the body heal! ;-)

Lemon is a potent vitamin C package, which is a powerful antioxidant. Those little buggers just swim through the water in your body, and *WHAM!* neutralize any free radicals they find on the way!

Cayenne can get your circulation moving! Nice and warming on this cooler morning! But did you know it also has some good Vitamin A in it - essential for healthy epithelial tissues including the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages and lungs? Important for a healthy respiratory system! Sadly, with just a small dash, I probably didn't get too much of that wonderful vitamin, but maybe over time I can work up to a larger, spicier dose! The compound capsaicin is what makes peppers hot - and it's also a good pain reducer! So, sore throat no more! Ok, not a guarantee cure, but capsaicin HAS been studied as a pain and inflammation reducer in arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. This lovely spice has also been shown to help open up clogged sinuses and nasal passageways. Thankfully, I caught my cold before it progressed that far, but good to know if that cold does persist!

And ginger. Ahh, ginger. That zesty, surprising bite of heat! I usually like to soak fresh ginger root in my teas, but I ran out and had to go with some powdered ginger this morning. Ginger is another antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger also contains dermicidin which German researchers are studying as a strong germ-fighting agent that enters your sweat glands after consuming ginger! Woo! Go Ginger Ninja! (Hmmm... I wonder if you have enough, if you'll smell like ginger after a good workout....)

So that was my health goal for today - kick the cold! And I am feeling much better! No sore throat, no congestion!

Stay healthy, stay warm, stay rooted in peace! (I need that one today...) ;-)


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Half-Way Happy New Year!! ...Summer Style Resolutions!

Well, well, well, we are 6 months in to 2010 already (holy cow! Where did the time go!?) and how are YOUR New Years Resolutions coming?

Not like you'd planned? That's okay! Pick back up! Recommit today! We're at another turning point! The sun is shining, the weather is warming, and vacations (or staycations) are calling!

Take today to recommit to that healthy life you were all excited about on January first. Reassess your goals, reformulate a plan, get back on that bandwagon, and enjoy loving life! Quit the smoking! Lessen the drinking! Get out and walk a little! Eat some veggies! Drink some health!

If diet plays any role in your health goal, summer is an ideal time to kick it up! With all the wonderful produce that's in season, your menu can get a total make-over cool style! Cool, fresh smoothies in the morning; a big crisp salad for dinner; snack on a hunk of juicey watermelon after work; go for a long sunny walk and return home to cool off with a pitcher of water flavored with berries or orange slices... I love summer! And all the fruit it brings! In Ohio, July begins the peak produce season :) And I can't wait! Peaches and watermelon that are truly fresh are just around the corner!

Sadly, most jobs these days lock us in temperate offices. So try to get out as much as you can - take a walk at lunch or right after work before heading to your car. Get that warming, Vitamin D inducing sunshine! You will appreciate the natural crave for cool foods if you do! It's hard to want to drink an iced fruit smoothie when you're trapped in a cold office. And at home, leave your air conditioner off or don't set it so low! Let your body return to the natural shifts of the seasons. Maybe there's a reason all these cool fruits are at their best during our warm months... hmmm... ;-)

See you soon!