healthy living

New Year’s Delightful Delectable List!

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Happy New Year!  We are eight days into 2014 and I keep re-checking my Weather Bug Application hoping for rain, instead we suffer with gorgeous days (mid 70’s) and it feels more like springtime stepping into summertime than winter.  Indeed, “it never rains in California“…

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Have you thought about your goals or set priorities for 2014?  Did you create a list?  How did you do for 2013?

I have my 2014 goals typed out and posted right at my desk.  We opened our 2013 memory box on New Year’s Eve and thoroughly loved all the memories and thankful scraps of paper notes.  This is such a wonderful activity to do!

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Take a box with a lid or an empty jar, decorate it any way you wish, place it in a frequented place in your home along with a pad of paper and a pen…then all year long make a note (include the date) of a happy moment, a blessing, celebration, a joy, an answered prayer, special occasion, etc., fold your papers and fill your memory box/jar.  Then, on New Year’s Eve (or even New Year’s morning) read each one and be amazed!  My husband and I love looking back on our year this way.

Anyway, I came across a fabulous blog site today.  I loved “10 Tips for an Amazing 2014”  and encourage you to take some time to savor and taste each part of this recipe.  I cannot pick my favorite ingredient, I loved them all, but one that especially spoke to me I will give you a sneak peek:

5 cups of Focus: find what you’re passionate about. Live it. Breathe it. Own it. Focus on it. Do it.  Be all about it. Not sure what you’re passionate about? Make it your goal to focus on finding that out this year.

Go check it out, I promise you will not be disappointed. Thank you, Lauren, for this fantastic recipe!

With love,

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Open Your Hand

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This morning I have been thinking about how it is impossible to receive something with a clenched fist. The image that keeps coming to mind is that from “The Monkey and The Juggler.” The monkey was unable to receive one or retrieve all the peanuts he held after reaching his hand into a jar because he refused to unclench his fist. He wouldn’t open his hand to let go of one peanut, therefore his hand remained stuck. Ever feel like that? May be you aren’t even aware this is where you are at. I’m reminded this morning to share with you: open your hand. Whatever has been holding you back from the healthy lifestyle and goals you are not meeting, unclench your fist. In order to receive something new we must open our hands and let something go.

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For example, a few years ago I decided I wanted to complete my schooling to obtain my degree. In order to do this, I had to give some things up to allow for more time for homework and studying. Yes, it was a stretch. Sometimes a painful one. However, I had to choose to unclench my fist, open my hand to let some things go in order to receive more time.

Do you struggle with eating the right foods? Is temptation too great? Unclench your fist and pick differently. There is such a variety to choose from, beautiful and delicious healthy, clean foods. Does eating clean get boring? Try some new recipes. There are hundreds of creative recipes free for the choosing on the Internet, free cookbooks can be downloaded for your Kindle or Nook, and recipe books are a dime to a dozen at thrift stores or garage sales. Load up half your dinner plate with vegetables and fruits. The more healthy foods you give your body, the more your body will crave those foods. Consider trying Shakeology®, which eliminates unhealthy cravings and increases your cravings for healthy foods.

Is exercise nearly impossible because you smoke? Do you want to quit smoking, and continually fail? Don’t stop trying, try again! Unclench your fist and replace your cigarettes with patches, the electronic cigarette or even medication. Talk to your doctor. Join a support group. Start walking. Drink a lot of water. Rebuild your lungs one day at a time. You can do this! How do I know? Because I HAVE DONE IT! I smoked for years and never thought I could live my life without cigarettes being part of it. I unclenched my fist and let cigarettes go and replaced them with health. I am free, and free to exercise with the full capacity of my lungs. Nothing is impossible with faith and persistent efforts.

Don’t have time for exercise? This can be coined with our kids saying they don’t have time to get their homework done. No more excuses! Set your alarm 30 minutes early, break up your exercise in increments, do whatever it takes and manipulate your schedule to allow for this “me” time for your overall health and well-being. As much as exercise may feel or seem like a chore, IT IS NOT! Exercise and movement are as important as eating, sleeping and praying.

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Most of us know exactly what we are holding in our clenched fist, and it is usually more than one thing. Take some time to quietly reflect on what you are holding on to that is preventing you from opening your hand to receive something else, something better, which is blessed good health.

I thought I would share the story with you also. Think about these things, will you?

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The Monkey and The Juggler

In a mango orchard outside a village there lived a mischievous monkey. The whole day, he would jump from one tree to another. Thus the monkey kept on eating the ripe mangoes. The orchard-keeper tried to trap the monkey. But every time the monkey escaped the trap.

One day, the monkey wandered out to the nearby town. “The town people are so busy. There is so much crowd here,” the monkey thought. Soon the monkey was sneaking into houses and running away with eatables. By evening, he had made life difficult for the town people. “The town is more fun than the orchard. I will live here,” he thought.

Days went by and the monkey was looked upon by the town people with terror. “Here he comes again,” they screamed when they saw the monkey.

One day, a juggler came to the town. The people of the town approached him. “We want you to help us get rid of that mischievous monkey,” they said to the juggler. The juggler said in return, “Do not worry. Get me some jars with narrow necks,”

When the jars of the size were brought to him, he put peanuts into the jars and placed them out on a field.

The monkey became curious when he saw the jars. When he went and peeped inside the jars, he saw peanuts. “Yummy! Let me quickly grab the peanuts and run,” he thought. He put his hand inside the jar and grabbed a big handful.

But he could not pull out his clenched fist, as the neck of the jar was so narrow. If the monkey dropped some peanuts back into the jar, he could have pulled his hand out. But he was greedy. So he did not drop some peanuts into the jar.

The town people trapped the monkey with his hand inside the jar. They got hold of the rope and tied him in a post. Then the monkey was sold to a zoo. That was the end of the greedy monkey.

The Three R’s

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Rest is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for ALL ages.  It rejuvenates your body and mind, regulates your mood, and is linked to learning and memory function.  On the other hand, not getting enough rest can negatively affect your mood, immune system, memory, and stress level.

The three R’s for maintaining a healthy lifestyle have nothing to do with natural resources and waste management, although those are GREAT things to practice for the environment (reduce, reuse and recycle).  Rather, most importantly, the three R’s that need to be a part of our lives consistently are rest, rejuvenate and renewal.

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Rest

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1. Make time for down time.  Consider a leisurely walk or a 5-minute mini meditation.  Just close your eyes and focus only on your breathing for 5 minutes.

2. Follow a routine.  Consider waking up 10 minutes early each day for some simple stretches to start your day rather than jumping into high-speed mode.  Stretch and wind down before bed each night.

3. Give your mind a break.  Consider participating in an activity that directs your mind to full attention on that task.  Fully “be in the moment,” which will give your mind a mental break from a nagging “to do” list.

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1. Schedule your “me” time.  If we don’t take the time to step back from the chaos, even a few minutes each day, and rejuvenate that emotional energy, we soon run out.  We crash.  Carve out a few minutes EACH DAY to catch up with friends, paint your nails, read, go for a jog, or even just meditate.  That small moment can refill your emotional bucket and ready you for the evenings’ madness.

2. Journal.  Take 15 minutes to think of the positives in your day or something you look forward too.  Write.  Practice gratitude.  Being thankful truly is a natural stress-buster and antidepressant.

3. Splurge and get a massage.  Not only will this ease sore muscles and release stress toxins from your body, but you will feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for life!

Renewal

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1. Get creative.  Creative renewal is such an important part of the creative process.  Every mind goes stale after a while.  You need to empty your cup.   Do you paint?  Start an outline or watercolor.

2. Enjoy the outdoors!  Turn on the Discovery channel or tune into David Attenborough or repeats of the late Steve Irwin to get enthused about this wonderful world you inhabit.  Better yet, get out into your garden or the local park.  Go hiking.  Get down on the grass and watch the ants.  Follow a butterfly or gaze closely at a pretty flower.

3. Embrace your hobbies!  Pleasures can bring a lift to your mood.  Because hobbies generally incorporate pleasures into your life, maintaining hobbies can be good for your overall sense of joy in life.  As well, gratifications can lead to a reduction in stress and a sense of well-being, and hobbies are usually experienced as gratifications.  If you want more happiness and less stress experiences in your life, hobbies provide a direct route to gratifications that can lead to this.

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The three R’s are just as important as maintaining a good diet and exercise for our overall well-being, and quite necessary for our joy and health.

Wishing you all a rejuvenating weekend,

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Be the Moon

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“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
Comedic Actor, Filmmaker, Writer

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Many years ago I came across the most excellent saying I will never forget printed on a shirt worn by an elderly gentleman in his late 70’s.  It was just a plain black tee-shirt with an image of a bright moon, however it was the simple three words that spoke such a powerful reminder: BE THE MOON.

The moon shines in darkness.  So must we, especially during such senseless tragedies as the Boston bombing this week.

We need more random acts of kindness in our world.  Rick Warren recently reminds us that “a crisis depletes your emotions.You must intentionally replenish them. Make a list of what restores you and do those things.”

Let us be the moon for one another.  YOU have many-of-a-somethings others need and would be blessed by.  WE all make such a difference in each others lives.   Let us also remember to nurture ourselves, not selfishly, but lovingly.

There are a million ideas I can think of for just engaging in random acts of kindness where we are today.  I will list just a few and encourage you to make your own list.  Let us “be the moon” today and shine on others, not just during the darkness, but as an example, as a beacon.

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1. Love our families and friends.  Show them.  Hug them.  Tell them.

2. Smile more, especially at strangers.  Make conversation in an elevator.  Wish a passerby a happy day or a blessing.

3. Say I’m sorry.  First.  Regardless of who is wrong.  Make it your mission to restore peace and suck it up!  Squash that pride.  It’s not worth it.

4. Clean up graffiti.  Your time.  Your paint.  Just because.

5. Donate your used books to a library, nursing home or community center.  Grab some extras from thrift stores and donate those too.

6. Buy a homeless person a meal.  Consider a care package for a homeless shelter.

7. Volunteer.  Needs are all around us.  Give of yourself, your time, freely.

8. Let someone go in line in front of you.  Hold the door open for a stranger.

9. Read to a child.  Mentor an at-risk teen.

10. Pay the tab for the person behind you.

11. Return your shopping carts.  This speaks enormous courtesy!

12. Say thank you.  Be thankful.

13.  Words of encouragement.  Offer them.

14. Pick up trash.

15.  Visit an animal shelter or a nursing home.  Just love on them and give your time.

16. Collect canned food or give to a food bank.

17. Donate blood.  Donate used clothing.  Just donate.

18. Share produce with your neighbor.

19. Complain less.  Make someone laugh.

20. Be polite on the road.  Forgive others.

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Wishing you all a beautiful Wednesday and blessings,

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 “What can we do to make the world a better place? That’s the question that should be foremost in    our mind, always. We must be the change.” ~Sandi Krakowski

The Ascent: Climbing that Mountain!

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I am so happy right now!  Why?  My husband has told me for the past two days how pretty I look, repeatedly has asked me what did I do different, on and on.  This morning he commented that I am “getting skinny” and he sees the difference “in my face.”  Wow.  Looking back through photographs, I see (and cringe) that I had developed a “fat face.”  More like, “wino” cheeks.  If I offend anyone by using “fat” terms here, I somewhat apologize, but it is what it is: truth.  Over the past couple years I had gained a whopping 30-plus pounds!  Put that on a 5’3″ frame, trust me it is noticeable!

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My husband is the sweetest man.  He has NEVER told me I was heavy, I was gaining weight, that I looked fat, or that I was no longer appealing to him.  Did I mention that he is also a very smart man!  We know the truth when we look in the mirror, don’t we?  We see ourselves naked after stepping out the shower and it feels awful when we can no longer fit comfortably into our clothes, or at all.  It’s not so funny after awhile when we have to graduate into “big girl” jeans and joke about it to family or friends.  We know and we want to hide.  The worst thing possible would be hearing it from others.

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My husband spoke such encouragement to me this morning by choosing the right words to cheer me on: he complimented the changes rather than remarked about my past weight.  I am so very blessed.  I will FOREVER remember the words he chose to coach me forward with my goals.

The ascent is so worth the painful steps, and the most important step is making a decision for change.  Have you considered taking that first baby step yet?  I promise you, you will never regret it or turn back.  The long-term benefits to your health far outweigh immediate gratification.

I encourage you to consider these ten steps for changes you desire.  This is where I started:

1.  Step on the scale first thing in the morning and note your weight.  Wait two weeks or try to be patient and wait until 30 days have passed to weigh yourself again.

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2.  Take your measurements (chest, both arms, waist, hips and both thighs).

3.  Use a calendar and a journal- document your weight and measurements and pick a start day (why not today?) for a 30-day goal.  (Set 30-day increment goals and watch what happens!)  *Be consistent, this is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix plan.

4.  Track your calories!  Do not approximate!  Write down your meals and snacks in a journal, or rather, grab a free application for your smart phone or computer.  It really does not take much extra time and is such a very important tool.  From here you can determine calorie allowance based on your body and weight loss desires.

5.   Exercise!  Preferably, pick something you enjoy.  Try to get in 30 minutes every day.  Yes, every day.  But, listen to your body.  If you are really tired out or sore, give yourself a rest, but do try to work through muscle soreness.  If you cannot get to the gym or afford a gym membership, why not try some fitness DVD’s you can use at home?  Consider walking.  Grab a workout buddy.  Move and stretch each and every day and journal how you feel and also how you sleep.

6.  Drink your water.  Hydrate daily.

7.  Do not give up!  If you have a down day, dust off and begin again.  Never feel or be defeated.

8.  Remember the six meal rule: Breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-day snack, dinner, evening snack.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.

9. Watch your alcohol intake!  (See my story here: http://wp.me/p35YUS-wT)

10.  Allow a flex meal per week AND make time to relax!  Remember also how important sleep is to your weight loss program.

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Lastly, seriously consider joining a challenge group (http://wp.me/P35YUS-gz).  The accountability, intimacy, coaching and friendships built have been priceless tools for my success, as well as so many others I have met along my journey, and I have no doubt they would also benefit you with your goals.

In ending, I am celebrating.  Since I have been involved with a challenge group, changed my eating habits and wine consumption, added Shakeology to my diet and consistently make exercise a part of my life, I have lost over 16 pounds since the beginning of this year and I feel FABULOUS!  My RA pain levels have disappeared and I have so much energy.  I am the product of the product, thus I am sharing with you!

Climb that mountain, I dare you!

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Painful Truth?

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Today I am sharing a fantastic blog by Denise Shroka Sanger from “How to Stay Fit Over 50” that discusses times from yesterday (gotta love those years!) and excuses of today.

I really encourage you to be inspired, even though the truth may sting a bit.  Oh, and you should go check out this blog site.  Really you should.  I have listed the link below.

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If You Are Going To Make Excuses, Don’t Start An Exercise Program

by on APRIL 11, 2013

Okay – I will admit it.  I have a pet peeve about people who make excuses for ANYTHING but more so when it effects your health as in diet and an exercise program.  Being born at a time when mom still stayed at home and dad worked, we didn’t just get anything we wanted.  If we wanted something, we worked for it because bottom line, there wasn’t any extra money.  You figured it out and you made it happen.   We had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and dad saved enough money to go on vacation one time a year and vacation for many families at the time was just not possible.  It is the same thing with exercise.  I myself can come up with A LIST OF EXCUSES but I don’t.  I make the time and just do it and when I’ve finished I feel wonderful.

Granted growing up when we did (those of us in our 50′s, near our 50′s or over our 50′s), we tend to view the world just a little bit different.  We walked to and from school, came home changed out of our “school” clothes into our “play clothes” and after homework was done, outside we went.  In for dinner then back outside but had to have our butts in the door or at least the yard by the time the street lights came on.   TV had 3 stations originally and we watched what our parents watched.  Personally, I remember playing outside until the last possible minute before coming in the house.  We didn’t have 500+ stations, computers, IPads, XBoxes, streaming video, video games, and everything else that keeps us sitting in the house on the couch these days.

I think because we do tend to view the world through the eyes we grew up with, we don’t take things for granted.  If you want something, you work your butt off to get it.  I started working when I was 12 cutting grass in the neighborhood.  Why? I wanted a new bike and yes I got that bike by saving my money.  Was it easy?  No it was not but boy was it worth it when I got to ride my new yellow 10 speed bike :)

It’s the same way with fitness. You must make the choice to select healthy foods when you are in the grocery store or at the restaurant.  You must make the time to workout. Yes, we are all busy with different aspects of our lives but if you truly want to be fit, get up and do something.  Tied up after work?  How about getting up just 30 minutes earlier in the morning?  Watching the kids or grandkids?  Take them to the park and play WITH them – don’t sit on the bench and watch them and worse yet? Don’t sit on the couch and watch TV for 3 hours with them – get up, get out and move.

Work is too busy?  Seriously?  Making money for someone else is more important than your health?  TAKE your lunch and go out for a walk.  Working through lunch is not a good thing for so many reasons with your health being at the top of the list. I know how that goes because I used to do it.  I used to put the company I worked for ahead of my family and my health and where did it get me? Working 60+ hours a week, working Saturday’s, eating lunch at my desk and overweight, grumpy and not spending enough time with my kids.   That 4% raise I got? So not worth the time I traded away from MY life, MY family and MY kids and now I’m self employed and will NEVER go back to the way it was and that was just a short 5 years ago. (Ask me how I did it – that’s a whole other topic but when you want it, you work for it until you get it.)

Bottom line is if YOU don’t make the time to put your health and fitness at the top of the list as a priority, no one will do it for you. How many more excuses do you have?

Stop Making Excuses Stop Making Excuses

Whining for wine

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I love wine.  I love to go wine tasting.  I love wine with any meal.  I love wine in between meals.  I love both red and white wine, and I cannot really say which I prefer most.  I do not like real sweet wine, but I love champagne and sparkling wines too.  I love just everything to do with wine, except for the extra weight I have put on as a result of this “love” and the lack of self-control to stop at only one glass.

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My husband and I have been members of many wine clubs over the years including Laetitia, Summerland and Firestone, as well as a few smaller, organic wineries.

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There is such an absolute carefree pleasure you receive in visiting a winery-we usually make it a picnic day-and then delight in receiving a subsequent wine shipment in the mail.  Our favorite wines on our porch step kindle the great memories of each winery we have visited.  We actually canceled all of our wine memberships some time back because of the growing cost.  We also finished our bottles too quickly.  More like me.  I take the blame.  My love for wine, specialty wine shipments and the fact that I work from home made it far too easy to “sip” throughout my day.  This was the beginning of my weight problem.  (Honestly, my mouth is watering as I write this, thinking back!)   Wikipedia describes a “wino” perfectly: Wino is a slang term for a person who drinks excessive amounts of wine.  I am ashamed to say this describes me.

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We also have thousands of wine corks we have collected over the years for various crafts (wine cork boards are so awesome!).  It amazes me that we literally drank every bottle matching the endless supply of corks we have!  Actually, it’s kind of scary.

Over the years I have fallen hard in love with everything to do with wine (in addition to drinking) from wine movies, history about wine, books about wine, wine Christmas decorations, wine place mats for our dining room table, a variety of wine glasses, wine towels, wine picnic sets, electric wine openers and even a wine aerator, which perfectly aerates red wine and brings out the very best taste.

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I also love to cook and can easily pair the perfect foods with the perfect wine.  Of course, cheese, crackers and chocolate go very well, another source of additional weight gain.

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I can find a million excuses not to give up wine.  I especially love to blame my French heritage.  But the fact is, I know this has become a problem for me and an obstacle preventing me from reaching my healthy goals.  In all honesty, I have grieved letting wine go.  It feels like I have let a part of me go, it has felt a bit like mourning a best friend.  But, this best friend has really been a foe.  An occasional glass is just fine, but a few glasses to a bottle?  Every day?  Sometimes more?  Not a healthy habit.  And a habit it became.

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The greatest benefit I have gained in curbing my intake of wine is my sleep quality.  One would think wine would be the perfect sleeping aid.  Not so for me.  I find I sleep deeper and wake refreshed without wine.  I am losing weight and keeping it off.  I am exercising daily and eating a balanced diet.  I hydrate more with water and green tea, not wine.  I used to reduce what I ate during the day to allow for wine calories.  This type of diet DOES NOT WORK!  I obviously do not do this anymore.

Some of my most important reasons I have reduced wine from my life, besides my desire to get my body and my life back, are:

People drinking wine or any type of alcoholic beverage in moderation tend not to be aware that alcohol creates a chemical dependency.  Our body’s chemistry gets accustomed to the effects of the drug.  Naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain are released in response to the ingestion of alcohol.

A common effect of regular alcohol use is a buildup of fat and scar tissue in the liver that ends up seriously compromising its function.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. In small concentrations, alcohol reduces inhibition, prompting a mild euphoria, sociability or self-confidence but at the same time, it rapidly impairs attention, judgment and control.

Over time a person who consumes alcohol regularly develops metabolic tolerance: alcohol will be metabolized faster and a higher amount is needed in order to experience the same effects. This leads to alcohol dependence.

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I have chosen to go weeks without wine.  I started with the goal of no wine Monday-Thursday, allowing for the weekends.  Presently, I am just not having any.   I feel better, although I still love wine and have such fond memories associated with it.  I am choosing to govern my life, not allow a glass of wine to dictate.  When and if I do have a glass, it will be just that: one glass, preferably with a meal.  Having a glass of wine each day is actually good for our health, but no more than that.

I am wondering if anyone else struggles or loves wine as much as me?  It is all about choices isn’t it, and staying consistent.

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No for candy, yes for super food!

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Have you ever heard of a jujube?  I always thought jujubes were only candy.  Not so!

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Last week I tasted the most delicious jujube tea at our local farmers market and received a little health-history lesson about this very special super food.  Jujubes are a bit larger than a walnut, a beautiful brownish-reddish color and felt very light and soft in my hands.

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The jujube originated in China where they have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years and where there are over 400 cultivars. The plants traveled beyond Asia centuries ago and today are grown to some extent in Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and the southwestern United States.  Some jujube trees grow up to 40 feet tall in Florida, but are smaller in size in California.

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The benefits of jujube the super food

Jujube contains high levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat, carotene, vitamin C, B, P, and minerals like calcium, iron and phosphorus. Below you will find some benefits of jujube.

    1. Decrease in seborrheic keratosis

Vitamin C present in jujubes is an antioxidant, that participates in the physiological oxygen reduction of the body and lowers the production of seborrheic keratosis by preventing the chronic melanin sedimentation in the body.

    1. Liver protection is another benefit of jujube

The fat, protein and sugar contained in jujubes protect the liver. These nutrients stimulate liver to synthesize protein, thus increasing the amount of albumin and red protein, controlling the ratio of globulin and albumin, preventing transfusions and reducing the level of serum alanine aminotransferase.

    1. Many will be glad to know that hair loss prevention is among the benefits of jujube

Jujube has the function of nourishing spleen and stomach. There is an old saying in China goes like this “Good spleen, good skin”. With radiant skin, the hair can have a sound shelter. So eat more jujubes can prevent hair loss and help you to grow glossy hair.

    1. Nourish stomach and brain

In fact, jujube is used in Chinese medicine to nourishing spleen and stomach. In case of irritating substances in prescription medications, jujubes are equipped to protect the spleen and stomach. Jujube is rich in protein, carbohydrate, organic acids and fat, which produces the tonic effect for the brain. Jujube cake with flour and jujubes is very delicious and moreover it can improve the functioning of the brain and stomach.

    1. Nourish the blood and provides vital energy

As a matter of fact, rich amount of vitamins in jujube is one of the most important benefits of jujube which is advantageous for capillary. Take 20 jujubes, brown sugar (30 grams) and 1 egg; make it with water stew. You should take this mix every day. It is beneficial for women’s recuperation after childbirth.

  1. Sleep promotion

As it has already been said, jujube nourishes the blood and spleen, but it also has a soothing effect. Take 1000 grams of jujubes, wash them, eliminate the nuclear, then smash and add water to boil on slow fire. After that, filter the juice and mix honey (500 grams). Mix into the paste with heating, reserve in bottles. Take 15 ml for two times a day. The mix continuously served will prevent and cure insomnia.

Additionally, jujube is important in calcium supplement, anti-diarrhea and emission control prevention. But, jujube is not appropriate for people with constipation for the rich content of carbohydrate.

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The jujube tea I sampled was delicious.  It reminded me almost of a cinnamon-raisin type of tea, but satisfyingly rich.

I am sharing this very special recipe with you below.  The making of this tea certainly is a process, but well worth the time involved.

Ginger jujube tea is normally served hot with pine nuts. Ginger has a soothing effect on stomach and sore muscles and jujubes alleviate stress.

This Korean tea is dark in color and has strong flavors of spicy ginger and sweet dried jujubes because it was cooked in simmering water for a long time. A fast way to make ginger tea is to use a pressure cooker.

When it is cold outside, this spicy hot drink will warm your body and even heart.

Korean Ginger Jujube Cinnamon Tea

Yields: about 16 cups
Total time: 50 min

Ingredients

    • 40 dried jujubes, Korean dates
    • 2 oz ginger (55g)
    • 3 oz packed brown sugar (85g)
    • 0.5 oz cinnamon sticks (14g)
    • 3 liters drinking water

Korean ginger jujube tea 생강 대추차

Instructions

Preparation Wash ginger and dried jujubes. Peel off ginger and cut into thin slices.

Brew Put ginger slices, dried jujubes, cinnamon sticks, and 3 liters of water in the pressure cooker. Cover and cook under pressure for 10 minutes over medium high heat. Then reduce the heat to very low and cook for another 10 minutes. Release pressure and add in brown sugar and without cover, simmer for another 5 minutes, or until sufficiently infused.

Serve Drain and serve with a few pine nuts in the tea and honey or brown sugar on the side.

Korean ginger jujube tea 생강 대추차

Serve with pine nuts.

Korean ginger jujube tea 생강 대추차

If you do not own a pressure cooker, this process can be accomplished (as per our local farmers market vendor) by slow-simmering for several hours.  Honey and brown sugar truly is optional, as the jujubes have their own sweet, unique flavor.

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What a neat little super food, don’t you think?

Happy Monday,

Wendy

Housework does count for more than just cleanliness!

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Sometimes you’re in no mood to exercise, despite what you know you should be doing: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity nearly every day.

But there’s good news: What you’re already doing counts!

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The CDC says “moderate” housework is an acceptable form of exercise. This includes inside activities such as scrubbing the floors, washing windows and moving light furniture and outside work such as washing your car, mowing the lawn and gardening.

So how does your regular housework routine measure up? These statistics from www.Caloriesperhour.com are for a 150-pound, 35-year-old woman doing 30 solid minutes of everyday chores around the house. Plus, to help you burn even more calories, we’ve suggested a few other activities to give you a really beneficial in-home workout.

Type of housework METs (metabolic equivalent total) Calories burned per half-hour Add light calesthenics (119 cal.) Add disco dancing (153 cal.) Add jogging in place (272 cal.)
Doing laundry 2 73 192 226 345
Making the bed 2 68 187 221 340
Cooking 2 85 204 238 357
Washing the dishes 2.3 78 197 231 350
Ironing 2.3 78 197 231 350
Dusting 2.5 85 204 238 357
Sweeping 3.3 112 231 265 384
Vacuuming 3.5 119 238 272 391
Scrubbing the floors 3.8 129 248 282 401
Rearranging furniture 6 204 323 357 476
Yard work 5 170 289 323 442
Washing windows 3 102 221 255 374
Washing the car 3 102 221 255 374
Gardening 4 136 255 289 408
Mowing the lawn 5.5 187 306 340 459
Raking 4.3 146 265 299 418
Shoveling snow 6 204 323 357 476
Carrying a small child (up to 15 lbs.) up and down stairs 7.5 289 408 442 561

 

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Let’s go!

Wendy

Eating for our brains

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Food doesn’t just feed our bodies, it also nourishes our minds. If you are living with mental illness, eating well is especially important for you, because what you eat can affect your daily life, mood and energy level.

A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products and should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

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Healthy eating helps me to have more energy throughout the day and makes me feel better about myself in general. When I overindulge or eat junk food, it literally weighs me down and makes me want to go to sleep.  I love food, so I adapt healthier versions of my favorite meals and, of course, I treat myself once in a while.  I also eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep from overeating.  At first, it’s difficult to go from 3 huge meals to 6 tiny ones, but now I love it.  I can sample a variety of different foods and I’m never hungry because I know my next meal is right around the corner.

~Kerry M.
Living with Mental Illness

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Warnings about sugar

According to research, diets containing high amounts of refined sugar are associated with worsening symptoms of schizophrenia and a higher rate of depression. Current research recommends that you limit your sugar consumption to around 10 percent of total energy (or calorie) intake. Other dietary options such as fish, seafood and starchy roots provide a healthier energy-gaining alternative and are associated with reducing the prevalence of depression.

Keep a food journal

Are you even eating?  The answer 95 percent of the time is no, some people suffering with mental illness were actually fooling themselves.  It’s only when individuals are asked to write down everything they eat and drink that the true story is told.  Make sure to record the time of day and emotions surrounding your food choices.  Anorexia is also a form of mental illness and some patients claim that they have “hardly eaten anything at all” (Kirkpatrick, 2010).

Healthy brain foods

Diet is inextricably linked to conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, what we consume also seems to have significant implications for the brain: Unhealthy diets may increase risk for psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and dementia, whereas healthy diets may be protective.

Make for Malta in Depression, Stroke, and Dementia

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A 2009 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns -that is, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fat (common in olive and other plant oils) – are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than those who typically consume meatier, dairy-heavy fare.  The olive oil-inclined also show a lower risk for ischemic stroke and are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease, particularly when they engage in higher levels of physical activity.

Fat: The Good and the Bad

avocados

A study conducted in Spain reported that consumption of both polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables) and monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts) decreases the risk for depression over time. However, there were clear dose-response relationships between dietary intake of trans fats and depression risk, whereas other data support an association between trans fats and ischemic stroke risk. Trans fats are found extensively in processed foods, including many commercial chocolates. A deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.

Fish Oil to Fend Off Psychosis?

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Thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help fend off numerous diseases of the brain. A 2010 study correlated fish consumption with a lower risk for psychotic symptoms, and concurrent work suggested that fish oil may help prevent psychosis in high-risk individuals. Although data are conflicting, new research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are beneficial in depression and postpartum depression, respectively, and other research suggests that omega-3 deficiency may be a risk factor for suicide. Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, have the highest omega-3 levels.

Berries for Oxidative Stress

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Polyphenols, namely anthocyanins, found in berries and other darkly pigmented fruits and vegetables may slow cognitive decline through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A study in rats from 2010 showed that a diet high in strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract leads to a “reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior involving learning and memory.” In vitro work by the same group found that strawberry, blueberry, and acai berry extracts – albeit in very high concentrations -can induce autophagy, a means by which cells clear debris, such as proteins linked to mental decline and memory loss. Berry anthocyanins may also reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing oxidative stress and attenuating inflammatory gene expression.

Alcohol: Always in Moderation

wine

The Greeks touted “nothing in excess,” a refrain that still rings true: Low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous potential physiologic benefits, including improved cholesterol profiles, beneficial effects on platelet and clotting function, and improved insulin sensitivity.  According to a recent meta-analysis, limited alcohol use is associated with a lower risk for overall and Alzheimer dementia, a finding supported by a 2011 study of German primary care patients.  Moderate alcohol intake may also protect against cerebrovascular disease, with wine potentially having added benefit because of its polyphenolic antioxidant components (ie, resveratrol). However, the health costs of alcohol consumption beyond low to moderate intake can quickly outweigh benefits to the brain, as heavy and long-term alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and dependence, impair memory function, contribute to neurodegenerative disease, and hinder psychosocial functioning.

*The US Food and Drug Administration defines “moderate alcohol consumption” as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits.

Rewed Awakening: Coffee for Depression and Stroke

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The world’s most widely used stimulant might do more than just wake us up: A 2011 meta-analysis found that consumption of 1-6 cups of coffee a day cut stroke risk by 17%.  Although it may increase blood pressure, coffee beans contain antioxidant compounds that may reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and coffee consumption has also been associated with increased insulin sensitivity and reduced concentrations of inflammatory markers.  Another 2011 study reported that women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day have a 15% decreased risk for depression, compared with those who drink less than 1 cup per week. A 20% decreased risk was seen in those who drank 4 cups or more. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity, whereas the mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both factors that are thought to play a role in depressive illnesses.

Chocolate — and Still More Antioxidants

chocolate-is

Chocolate — the darker the better — seems to help scavenge free radicals and improve endothelial and platelet function, likely via flavanols (such as catechin), a group of plant-derived polyphenols. A 2010 cohort study published in European Heart Journal found that consumption of 6 g of chocolate daily – a standard Hershey bar weighs 43 g – was associated with a 39% lower combined risk for myocardial infarction and stroke in adults, whereas data collected from the Swedish Mammography Cohort demonstrated a 20% decreased risk for stroke in women who regularly consume chocolate. Although chocolate has been associated with a positive influence on mood, possibly mediated by the dopamine and opioid systems, an extensive review by Parker and colleagues suggests that the benefits are not sustained, with emotional “comfort” eating actually contributing to depressed mood.

What Not to Eat?

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Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates have highly detrimental effects on the immune system, oxidative stress, and neurotrophins, all factors that are known to play a role in depression. The study by Akbaraly and colleagues cited previously showed that a diet rich in high-fat dairy foods and fried, refined, and sugary foods significantly increases risk for depression. Similar findings were seen in another study from Spain, showing that intake of such foods as pizza and hamburgers increased the risk for depression over time, and in another study, women with a diet higher in processed foods were more likely to have clinical major depression or dysthymia.  Research published last year also showed for the first time that quality of adolescents’ diets was linked to mental health: healthier diets were associated with reduced mental health symptoms and unhealthy diets with increased mental health symptoms over time. Excess salt intake has been long known to increase blood pressure and stroke risk; however, recent data also correlate high salt intake, as well as diets high in trans or saturated fats, with impaired cognition.

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Much time and research went into presenting this blog concerning eating for our mental health and wellness.  The references found were numerous; please feel free to share this information and check the validity of diet truths I have chosen to share with you.

Lastly, I wish to share a very special blog written by my brother, who has drastically changed his life and mental wellness by changing his diet.  He’s a great guy who I love with all my heart.  There is truth to this “eating for our brains” and such hope.   Please go check out his article here: http://journeytohealth.posterous.com/physical-health-nutrition-and-mental-health-a.  You can also find him on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/letsjourneytohealth?fref=pb.

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Wishing you a blessed day,

Wendy

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References

 

Kirkpatrick, K. (2010)  Food Diary.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/how-writing-everything-do_b_780535.html