Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Treats with Natural Sweeteners

Holiday sweets are everywhere!
With the holidays fast approaching, we all know that one of the staples of the season is a plethora of sweet delectable desserts in all shapes and sizes.  Pies, cookies, cakes, candies, fruitcakes….you name it…… if it contains sugar, we’ll be seeing plenty of all of it as we move into the winter holiday time ahead.

There are some folks, albeit just a few, that don’t like sweets.  But we’re a natural for it, with thousands of receptors in our mouth and digestive system, all ready with the signal to our brain, "Have more, have more!"  Our insides light up like a  blinking Christmas tree when a little sugar hits one of those receptors.  The sweet flavor releases serotonin in our brains, which is the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. 
Artificial sweeteners abound
Most of us are aware that there are differences among sweeteners, that they are not all created equal.
There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and  the ubiquitous high-fructose syrup, and also from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin, and Splenda.  Refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so they can spike blood sugar, which, more often than not, lead to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations.

A better choice is to use naturally and minimally processed sweeteners, which, in addition to retaining some of their nutritive benefits, can actually help to reduce cravings for sugary things.  Hence, they help us to not over-indulge in a category of foods which are notoriously already low in food quality value.There are many natural sweeteners to substitute in drinks, food, and baking.  Most of them are notably sweeter than refined sugar, so you can actually use less.  Those that I list here are about 1.5 times sweeter than refined sugar, and they are easily found in most supermarkets and natural food stores.  When replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners in a recipe, (such as agave for refined sugar, for example), reduce the amounts of the other liquids. 

Raw Honey
Local Raw Honey
Almost everyone likes honey, one of the oldest, natural sweeteners on the market.  Honey will have a different flavor depending on the plant source.  Some varieties are very dark and intensely flavored. Whenever possible, choose raw, local honey, as it is unrefined, contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.  Also, if you can buy from a producer you know, it’s easier to know that the bees who produced the honey were treated well, which is not always the case, sad to say.
Agave Nectar
I am a little embarrassed to say that I had never ever heard of agave nectar before I became a high raw food eater almost seven years ago.  Now it is a staple in my kitchen, and I use it often.  Agave is made through the extraction and purification of the juice of the agave cactus, which also gives us tequila. It has a lower glycemic index than table .sugar, so does not stimulate insulin secretion as other sugars do.  Thus, it does not create a “sugar rush.”  It has a delightful light and mild flavor. 

Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is the concentrated extract of the sap of maple trees. It adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best.

Coconut Syrup
This low glycemic product is rather new on the natural food scene.  It is made from the sap of the coconut palm, and has a very low-key, satisfying sweetness to it. It also has an abundant source of minerals, 17 amino acids, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and a nearly neutral pH. I think that it’s definitely worth a trip to the health food store to get some into your kitchen cabinet. 

Do yourself a favor this holiday season and lighten your sugar load by adding in some of these more health friendly alternatives. 
Enjoy the holidays -- preparations and all!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Holidays Are Coming....

….or hadn’t you noticed ?  We just returned from some wonderful vacationing, and now there’s no choice but to face up to the fact that the most busy time of year is fast approaching.  It seems, then, like a good time to begin to strategize about some good self care, which ultimately will pay big dividends in energy, stamina, and the ability to stay calm and enjoy all the benefits of the holiday season.  Begin now to incorporate these five definitely healthy practices. Streamline your self-care so that you can fit it in to your busy life without bending over backwards.

1.  If you do nothing else, make sleep a priority.  Sleep might be the single biggest missing piece to your health puzzle (and to your weight management puzzle, in fact).  Being sleep deprived messes with our hunger and stress hormones, making us prone to binging on calorie-dense foods with lots of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fat.  The energy boost from these foods disappears quickly, leaving us depleted and more tired than before. 

2. When you make food choices, think efficiency.  Eating food that is good fuels for you is your best defense against time wasters like low energy and frequent illness.  Choosing foods that give you the most nutritional bang means that you spend less time eating and more tie doing.  Nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds give your body what it needs on less.  Choose them first, whenever possible, instead of wasting time on options that leave you hungry an hour later and searching for more food.
3.  Even if you’re working against deadlines, get up for 10 minutes and walk around the block.  Learn to tune into your own personal “I need a break alarm” by noticing what happens in your body when you’ve hit a wall.  Does your back ache:   Do you stare at your computer screen for just a little too long (without actually doing any work)?  Does your stomach feel a little funky?   Once you identify your body’s “alarm,” start listening to it!  Giving yourself these short little movement breaks when your body calls out for them is a quick way to avoid burnout and reduce stress. 

4.  Take 20 minutes a week to plan your meals.  “Who has time to plan?” you say.  Two small things will make a huge difference in how well you eat and whether or not yu move your body.  First, using your calendar, and second, taking 20 minutes to plan our meals. Put workouts, meal planning time, and cooking time on your actual calendar.  It’s a guaranteed game changer, and will save you time in the long run. 

5.    Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique.  This “paced breathing” is an amazing way to refresh your body and mind wherever you are.  Begin by breathing in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold that breath for a count of 7.  Then, breathe out strongly , (as if you were blowing up a balloon for an count of 8.  Repeat this cycle 3 or 4 times.  Simple.  It only takes a few minutes and will bring your stress level down, and your sense of wellbeing up, almost instantly.  

Try these five things, get used to doing them,  and you’ll be more than ready to sail through the holidays, and enjoy them fully.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wonderful Water

We have a critical need for water
Several people have recently asked me about drinking water – its importance, how much, what kind, etc., so I now offer some thoughts on the very large and critical subject.  Today I’ll talk about the why and the how-to, and next time, I’ll address some of the choice-making involved in getting the most from your water-drinking.  Stay with me here. 

Most of us are aware of the importance of drinking water. Getting our daily requirement of water helps our organs function, keeps our skin clear and hydrated, and allows physical action in our body to flow smoothly. We tend to pay good attention to our water consumption in the warm summer months when we tend to be more active and spend more time in the sun.  I suggest, though, that the need for water in these cooler months may go unnoticed, and so getting enough water becomes a bigger challenge.  Drinking plenty of water is critical all year long. Not drinking enough water may lead to poor digestion, sluggish thinking, skin breakouts, headaches, bad breath and general fatigue.  
Jumpstart your day!
One good practice is to drink a glass of warm water with the juice of ½ a lemon in it when you first get up in the morning. (Lemon adds and additional boost to your kidneys and helps to alkalinize your body.  See my earlier blog here Lemon Water - Morning Jumpstart - 6/10/13). With or without the lemon,  a large glass first thing when you wake up in the morning will  pull out toxins left from the previous day and refreshes your system, preparing it for the day ahead. Keep a bottle of water accessible throughout the day, whether you’re on the go or sitting at a desk. Having water close by will remind you to take a sip when thirsty. The first sip of water will usually let you know how much you need. If you have most of your water before early evening, the possibility of interrupted sleep will not be an issue because you will not crave a big glass before bed. 
What about quality? Some people like bottled, while others prefer filtered. I’ll address some options next time. The key is that you should like the taste of the water you are drinking and the water should agree with your body. Try different options to see what you like best. Adding a few mint leaves, a wedge of lemon, a sprig of parsley, a few slices of cucumber, a twist of lime or a squeeze of orange to your water is a great way to mix up your routine---and might make it more tempting to sip often. By drinking tea and juice and eating raw fruits and vegetables high in water content, you will also be contributing to the hydration process.  

Please, if you have ideas about this important subject, share them in the comments section below.  And if you enjoy this blog, you can regularly receive it by entering your email address on the sidebar on the right.  
Live Well ~  ~  Eat Raw 
For more information on water, check out Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. and Integrative Nutrition, by Joshua Rosenthal, pages 186-189. 

For finding spring water ---

Thursday, October 10, 2013

When Sleep Won't Come

 Do you ever lie awake in bed, wanting to sleep, but your mind just won’t shut off?
What’s frustrating about this situation is that I know I need to have good, restful sleep every night.  When I don’t fall asleep in a timely way, and then I find myself tossing and turning, anxiety kicks in with thoughts like, “Oh, no, I’m still awake."  "I need to be asleep."  "I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow."  "I need the rest……damn it!”  So much for the relaxed state of being which will help me to drift into peaceful slumber.
Falling asleep fairly quickly isn’t a problem for me any more….most of the time, that is.  Over the years I guess that I’ve developed some night time rituals that serve me well. First, here are some questions to pose as to the reason for sleep resistance.
 Were you racing around all day and haven’t had a moment of down time? 
Journal - food, exercise, 3 blessings
Our minds needs time to process the day and relax before we head for the bed.
Try building in one hour of down time with no technology before you go to sleep. Develop a ritual that you enjoy. Read a book, spend time with loved ones, straighten up or prepare for the next day. I usually journal my food and exercise for the day, and add on three blessings, or things to be grateful for during the day. The reflection does me good, and there are other rituals that can be developed as well.
Did you have caffeine or an energy drink in the afternoon?
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a warm drink, even if it’s just plain water, to flush your body, as you help it to relax. Better yet, in the future, try not having caffeine or energy drinks after 11 am, or skip them all together.  Stimulants are stimulants, and as such are counter to relaxation that we need for good sleep.
Are you stressed about all you have to do tomorrow?
Stressed?  Problem Solving?
Worry that may not have even surfaced to consciousness can sometimes produce just enough stress to keep us tense enough to prevent easy sleep.  One antidote for this problem is to keep a pad of paper near your bed, and write a list of all the things that have to be taken care of. Rank ordering their importance takes power from them and gives it to you, so you can leave them and go to sleep, knowing that all will be tended to in due time. A mind at ease is one that can rest. 
Are you problem solving a situation, rehashing possible solutions to no avail?
Whatever it is, we can’t do anything about it in the middle of the night, even though we think we’re thinking it through fairly clearly.   Preparing or rehearsing for a conversation or an event may or may not be helpful in the actual situation when it occurs. The best thing we can do is be present and open, and for that, we need sleep. And that part about rehashing a past event? None of it will change.  It is what it is.  It’s best if we just accept it, let it go, and let it float right out of our mind.
Tense mind+tense emotions=tense mucscles
Techniques that help
At the top of this list is deep, controlled steady breathing. Start by taking two or there deep cleansing  breaths.  Then breathe in for a count of eight, breathe out for a count of eight.  Try that for four rounds and see if you aren’t considerably more relaxed.  If not, do another cycle. 
When my own system is being more stubborn, and the deep  breathing doesn't do the trick, I get up, get a glass of warm water,and then do 5 minutes of gentle stretching.  If I am emothionally and/or mentally tense, my muscles are tense as well.  Stretching all sorts of  muscle groups, including some gentle twists, along with some more deep breathing, has never failed me, even when sleep has been very difficult in coming.
I think that I’m not alone in occasionally struggling with getting to sleep easily.  I’d love to hear some of your best remedies.  Do share.  We can all benefit!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Apples -- Weight Loss Made Easier

There is just nothing like the month of October for Apples!  Some of our grandchildren have started the month a little early and visited the u-pick orchards already.  It’s just that time of year when apples in all their many varieties can be had and enjoyed.
Big help with weight loss
Chances are that you have only tasted a few of the many varieties of apples, because the supermarkets offer a comparatively small selection that typically includes Gala, Cortland, Granny Smith McIntosh, and the ever popular, Red Delicious.  Regardless of the type, apples are a perfect addition to your weight-loss plan for a number of reasons.
Apples are low in calories and fat, low in sodium, and contain vitamins and minerals as well as fiber.  These can all help you to lose weight in different ways.  The fiber helps you feel full longer because it expands in your stomach, so it takes less food to satisfy your hunger.  The low-sodium content prevents excess water weight, or retention.  And the vitamins benefit you by increasing health and vitality.  Being more active helps burn extra calories to speed up weight loss. In addition to all of this, the enzymes found in apples help you to digest food more efficiently.

Eating an apple or two before a meal is a good way to curb your appetite, and at the same time get plenty of nourishment. Apples also make good mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy an apple is to slice it and then smear it with raw almond butter. (Admittedly, this practice cuts into the possible weight loss benefits of eating apples, but it’s a mighty tasty treat!) 

There are claims that eating three apples a day can account for about a 1/2 pound weight loss each week, up to 8 weeks or so.

Always wash and scrub your apples, especially if they are not organic.  Supermarket apples are often waxed, which seals in pesticide residues that may be on the skins.  Peeling apples will remove the film, but also a lot of the fiber. All apples will brown when cut, though the degree of browning varies among varieties.  Sprinkling a little lemon juice on cut surfaces will curb the browning somewhat.

If you’re interested in some very good raw  recipes which keep all the great apple nutrients in place, take a look at access it by going to my website .
While you’re there, you might also want to sign up on the right sidebar to receive my monthly newsletter.
I’ll be watching for you!  Enjoy this beautiful autumn month, and have lots and lots of apples!.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kelp -- A Health Gift from the Sea

Nutritious Gift
I ran across an article recently about kelp, a sea vegetable, being very helpful in weight loss.  Lots of things, it seems, are helpful in weight loss, always a popular topic, and I will share some of what this article a minute.

First, though, let’s talk about sea vegetables and algae in general.  “Yeeewwww!” you might  say.  I suppose I did, too,  several years ago when I was first delving into raw food eating.  But wait!  There is richness to be had in these somewhat salty greens from the ocean.  Read on.

Rich in Minerals

Seaweeds grow in the mineral –rich brine of the ocean and transform its fifty-six known minerals, including calcium, iodine, iron, potassium, and magnesium, into nutrients that we can assimilate.  In fact, seaweeds contain ten to twenty times more minerals than land-grown plants do.  Their abundant mineral content makes sea vegetables an important element of the raw foods diet.

Seaweeds offer many benefits to human health.  They increase metabolism, purify the blood, help break down fat, improve joint flexibility, and help heal mucous membranes.  They are naturally alkalinizing, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.  They also strengthen kidneys and beautify the skin and hair. Additionally, and very importantly, they contain alginic acid, a compound that binds in the body with heavy metals, environmental toxins, and other chemicals, and then carries them from the body and out.
Kelp Granules  for salads, smoothies, etc.
Seaweeds are available commercially in dried form, often in small sheets.  You can crush and sprinkle them over salads, eat them plain as snacks, add them to soups as flavorings, or use them as wrappers to hold other raw delights.  If you use a bit of oil in the preparation of sea vegetables, it will enhance your body’s absorption of their minerals and vitamins A and D.
With that glowing introduction, let us turn to Kelp, and the special advantages it offers in weight loss endeavors.
Kelp is an excellent supplier of calcium.  You can expect stronger bones, nails and teeth along with weight loss.
Kelp is also known to improve your circulatory system and provide blood purification.
Kelp all dressed up
Kelp is enriched with Omega-3, Omega-6, linoleic acid, gamma linolenic acid, fucoidans,  22 amino acids, chlorophyll, and sterols.Kelp helps in the boosting of the immune system, fighting cancer, keeping cholesterol levels down, slowing ageing and improving metabolism.  It’s a good thing to keep in your diet at any time, dieting or not.
If you are not used to regularly  consuming sea vegetables, start off with 600 mg for each meal, and gradually   increase the dose to 1200 mg per meal.  Crush the kelp to fine powder.  It is salty in taste, and can be sprinkled on salad  or soup—anything that is not sweet.
It is available in capsule form, which is not nearly as much enjoyed as the real food.

Try this simple recipe to get you started on a healthy sea vegetable adventure.  Your body will be grateful for your effort!
Kelp Cucumber Salad 
Soak kelp in water for 15 minutes and slice it down to thin pieces.  In a bowl of whisked maple syrup or agave nectar, tamari, and vinegar, add kelp and thinly sliced peeled cucumber.

Stay tuned for more good news about Kelp and other Sea Vegetables.




Thursday, September 19, 2013

Eating When You Don't Want to Be? -- Try HALT!

Small Group  Support
I have spent some years of my life in wonderfully  healing Twelve Step Programs, and many more years counseling others who have also been in those groups in those rooms.  An acronym turned guiding philosophy in those programs is H.A.L.T., which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.  These are the states to be guarded against if we want to avoid sliding back into addictive behaviors with whatever substance or lifestyle it is that pulls at us into what we mistakenly think will give us the peace, serenity, and the fully alive state we desire for ourselves.

In my last post, I shared some thoughts about cravings, and the fact that they usually come to us bearing a message.  I think that the message that they often carry to us is that we are, in fact, too hungry, too, angry, too lonely, and/or too tired.  Think about it.  Does this ring true for you?

Hungry? Angry,? Lonely,? Tired?
For example, consider your experience with anger for a moment.  As we grow and heal ourselves into greater and greater wholeness and health, anger is an important and vital force for us.  It is an appropriate emotion when it is used for our protection of ourselves and our loved ones, particularly our cubs.  However, anger can become an addiction unto its own, resulting from hanging on to long-time hurts and old pain.  At some point, forgiveness is essential to moving on with our lives and moving into health, letting go of our past, and allowing more good into our lives.

On the other hand, if we repress anger with food, as many of us do, we may be missing the important messages that it has for us.  The message may be as simple as, “You are angry,” in which case we can acknowledge the feeling for what it is and move on.  Or, it might be bigger, as in, “You hate your job and need to do something about it!”
Is it the job?
Whatever the case, it’s just very important do deal with our anger for what it is.  Avoiding it, stuffing it down with food instead of looking at it courageously will not make it go away.

So when a craving comes your way and you feel a big urge to overeat, stop and say, “HALT!  What is this about?  Am I too hungry, to angry, too lonely, too tired?  What?” 
Journaling can be a very helpful tool when dealing with any of these HALT warnings. If it is anger, to continue with our example, that keeps finding its way into our lives, pay attention to it, address it.  Try writing about it.  Talk to the anger.  Is it time to do something about your anger?  Is there some action that you need to take that confronts the anger directly rather than hiding from it with some comforting, and probably non-nutritious food?  Is it time to let go of the anger?  Have you been carrying it too long?  Brainstorm about possible actions to
take. Or write a letter to your anger, setting it free.
Journaling -- is good HALT tool
Then treat yourself to a well-chosen healthy snack or meal.  You’ll feel good in your everywhere!
I welcome comments and questions about this and all my other blog posts.  If you aren’t receiving this blog by email, consider filling in your email in the sidebar, and you’ll get it delivered to your fingertips.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Do You Really Want to Eat That?? Deconstructing Cravings

Cravings bring information
As a Health Coach, Ihear plenty about cravings.  Usually they are for things like bread, cheese, pizza, coffee, and so on.  And sometimes we give cravings more power over our lives and health than they have any business having.

Consider this thought.  The body is an amazing source of intelligence.  It is always there for you,  pumping blood,never skipping a heartbeat, digesting whatever food you put  in it and maintaining homeostasis.  Is this reliable, intelligent bio-computer making a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or chocolate?  Are cravings due to lack of willpower or discipline?  I'dlike to suggest that cravings do not have to be a big problem.  They are, rather, critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.

The important thing is to understand why you crave what you crave.  Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential njutrients.  Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too boring orstressful.  Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message of

Have some water and wait
craving.  A craving fro something sweet could mean that you need more protein, more exercise, more water, or more live in your life.  Thekey to stopping the sugar craving is to understand and deliver what your body really needs.

No book or theory can tell you what to eat. Only awareness of yoru body and its needs can tell you.  Of all the relationships in our lives, the one with our body is the most essential.  It takes communication, love, adn time to cultivate a relationship with your body.  As you learn to decipher and respond to your body's cravings, you will create a deep and lasting level of health and balance.

The next tiem you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of a weakness.  Try these tips to respond to your body.

     - Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes. 

    - Eat a healthier version of what you crave.  For example, if you crave sweets, try  eating  more fruit and sweet or root vegetables.

     - What is out of balance in your life?  Is there something you need to express, oris something being repressed?  What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
     - When you eat the food you are craving, enjoy it, taste it, savor it, notice its effect.  Then you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time.
     - Do you really need food righ now, or do you just need to go to bed and get a good night's sleep?  Sometimes we look for a bump in energy, when the best thing would be rest.

Most of all, remember that cravings come in service of  us being in balance, fully alive, filled with vim and vigor.  Listen to them.  Respond in the way that will give you what you most deeply desire.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cherries in Wisconsin

Cherries are Wisconsin
When we were in Door County, Wisconsin a few weeks ago, I was ready to see bags of cheese curds in every store and at every roadside stand, and  I was not surprised that restaurants served them almost universally.  It’s what they have in Wisconsin.  But, I had forgotten in the 5 years since we’ve been there that there are just as many avenues for procuring and enjoying ruby sweet cherries as there are cheese curds.  And for this raw foodist, the cherries trump the cheese bits any day.
Seriously, the cherries were everywhere. In restaurants we visited many of our friends enjoyed a slice or three of cherry pie, there were dried cherries in salads, and cherry juice options either all by itself or mixed with other fruit juices.  When we reluctantly drove out of town after a week of very pleasant biking and relaxing, we stopped at an outdoor market and loaded up on cherry jams, jellies, preserves, and salsas, all locally grown, prepared, and packaged.
Plump, sweet, and ruby red
I, of course, just enjoyed them whole and raw.  So delicious and spectacularly colored.  I knew they were probably a wonderful thing to be eating, so guess what?  Here comes the good news.
Cherries have been shown to combat cancer, improve sleep, balance pressure and ease gout.  Compounds found within cherries also relieve pain as well as aspirin.  They have anti-infammatory properties, and can help to ward off disease. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and anti-oxidants, and should be enjoyed often.

There’s more good news.  Cherries are a circulatory stimulant that dispel stagnation in the bloodstream and impart a rosy glow to the complexion.  They are detoxifiers, helping the body eliminate uric acid and cleanse the kidneys. They have been used traditionally to remedy anemia, arthritis, asthma, constipation, cramps, fatigue, gallstones and kidney stones, gout, and many other ills.  What’s not to like? 
Avoid contamination - buy organic
The bad news is that cherries are one of the most contaminated fruits, so it’s best to buy organic ones whenever possible.  Although they get cooked and put into jars, mentioned above, they can be enjoyed plain or in fruit salads, puddings, smoothies, and  juices.  They can also be dried for year-round consumption.
Their growing season is almost over for another year, but cherries are still in the stores.  Here’s a recipe you may want to try before they are gone until next year.  I will certainly be ready for them then!  Enjoy!
Cherry Soup – A Seasonal Delight
(Yield: 4 servings) 

¼ cup dates, soaked for 20 minutes
2 cups cherries, pitted
2 ½ cups water
2 Tbs lemon juice or lime juice 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and liquefy.

From Rawsome, by Brigitte Mars

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chia Seed - More Good Food for Biking

Bob and Jane - Biking vacation
My husband and I and twelve of our friends recently spent a week in Door County, Wisconsin.  It was primarily a biking trip, and we did lots of that, and there was also time for people to break off into smaller groups for things like wine tours, golf games, fishing, shopping, yoga, etc.  It was great fun, and I got a new idea for biking food…..well, actually biking drink a bonus to all that fun.

One of the women with us, Karen, puts chia seeds in her water bottles for biking.  Why I was so surprised to hear that, I don’t know, but really, you’d think that I might have thought of that great idea first!

So, you may ask, why is the idea of chia seeds in biking water such a good idea?  The first reason that comes to mind is that  chia seeds, which absorb water, are then good vessels for transporting hydration and chia seed nourishment to all the cells in the body, which really need them on long bike rides and other life activities. 
Chia - from the mint family
My friend Jenny, who is also a fan of this practice, said that chia seeds in water just made her body feel good while she was riding—not heavy from too much food, not nauseous from highly chemicalized and artificially sweetened commercial drinks.  “They just feel good in my belly ,“ she said. Because they swell in water, they produce a comfortably full feeling.

If that weren’t reason enough, chia seeds, considered a super food by many nutrition-conscious folks, provide many  gifts for  competitive and recreational athletes alike. They take on the taste of whatever they are mixed with, balance blood sugar, and provide energy throughout the day.  They are made of both soluble and insoluble fibers, so help  clean out your digestive system and keep things flowing smoothly.  Also, chia is the richest plant source of omega-3 fats, which are essential for heart health and cholesterol regulation.

Chia absorbs and carries water
And there’s more to like yet.  Chia seeds contain bio-available calcium and manganese (for stronger teeth and bones), phosphorus, (for synthesizing protein for cell and tissue growth and repair), protein, and tryptophan (for regulating appetite and sleep, and improving mood).

Chia seeds have also been shown, according to the Cleveland Clinic, to improve blood pressure in people with diabetes, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol.

There are just many things to like about this little seed from the mint family native to Mexico and Guatamala, where it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs.  Chia has remained in regular use in its native countries, but was largely unknown in North America until about 1929, when it began to be grown in Argentina, and then gradually made its way to us.

I often add some chia seeds to my green smoothies.  They can also be sprinkled on salads, made into puddings, and actually incorporated into many other dishes.  You may enjoy this easy, healthy, and satisfying  Chia porridge recipe.

Chia, apple, walnuts, raisins -- yum!
Breakfast Chia Porridge* (serves 1)

2 Tbs chia seeds
1/3 cup water
1/3 apple, chopped (or sliced banana)
2 Tbs walnuts, chopped
2 Tbs raisins
½ Tbs agave or honey
A pinch of cinnamon


In a bowl, stir together the ground chia seeds and water.
Let stand for a few minutes so it can gel.
Add the chopped apple (or sliced banana), chopped walnuts, and raisins.
Top with the agave and add a pinch of cinnamon, if desired.  
And yes, I did try adding chia to my biking water bottles.  I liked that it gives the water a little “substance” and does, as Jenny suggested, keep my stomach feeling comfortable. I plan to keep up the practice.  If you try it, too, let me know.  It’s good to share these things in our ongoing journey towards greater health, vitality and vigor. 

*from Rona Lee in Maven of Health

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Favorite Recipes – Watermelon Soup

A great addition to any summer meal
I couldn’t let the summer go by without recommending this delicious recipe to you. I think I’ve made four batches so far this summer, and there will surely be more before we swing into fall.

Watermelon soup is very tasty. It is helpful in alleviating depression and is a natural diuretic.  Watermelon has more lycopene than tomatoes, which have been helpful in protecting against certain cancers.

Here, then, is the recipe, always a crowd pleaser at home, potlucks and picnics! Try it!


5 cups watermelon, seeded and cubed
2 cups mango, peeled and diced
 ¼ cup lime juice
3 Tbs. fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbs. honey
1/8 tsp ground cardamom 

  1. Place 3 ½ cups watermelon and 1 cup mango in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Dice up the remaining 1 ½ cups watermelon and 1 cup mango into a puree and add to the puree.
  3. In a small, separate bowl, combine the lime juice, mint, ginger, honey, and cardamom.  Add this to the previous mixture and stir well.
  4. Chill and serve.
Alissa Cohen –Living on Live Food

Such beautiful food!
For those of you who love learning more about the nutrient values of your food, here is some additional information about  this slurpy, wonderful fruit.

It is cold, sweet, and alkalinizing, and while it is very sweet  tasting, it contains only half as much sugar as an apple does.  It is also a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and silicon.  The inner, pale green rind of watermelon contains chlorophyll and can be eaten along with the pink meat. The fruit’s black seeds contain curcurbocitrin,  which dilates the capillaries, and are a traditional remedy for strengthening the kidneys. If that isn’t enough good news for this slurpy,wonderful fruit, here’s some more. 
Watermelon has antibacterial, antioxidant, anticoagulant, diuretic, and laxative properties. It lubricates the intestines, and is considered a rejuvenating tonic for the blood.  It has been used in treatments for halitosis, hangover, mouth sores, sore  throat, and urethral pain.
When on the vine, the melon develops a white spot where it touches the ground;  when this white spot turns yellow or cream colored, it indicates ripeness.  A ripe melon will be heavy for is size, have a sweet fragrance, have skin that can be scraped off easily with a fingernail, and make a dull, hollow sound when thumped.

Beautiful Watermelon Salad
Watermelon is best enjoyed on its own, but you can add it to other melons in a fruit salad, juice it, or freeze the pure`e for a cool watermelon sorbet.  Or, for a truly invigorating watermelon tonic that will help build the blood and strengthen the glands, try juicing the seeds, rind, and pink meat all together, assuming you're working with an organic melon.
Let us know how you like to have your watermelon.
An extra thought- Many people along the way have asked me how to access this blog.  While it is available through my website, you can get it each week (approximately) without having to lift a finger by filling in the "follow by email box" in the right sidebar here.  That way you don't have to remember to go looking for it. Thanks!  I appreciate your interest......Jane