How to Store Your Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

You’ve made up your mind to start eating healthy, so you go to the store and stock up on more fruits and veggieslots of fresh fruit and vegetables.   You get all the bags home and get ready to put them away.  But wait – where do they all go?  Some are best in the refrigerator, and some are best on the counter.  Still some fruits and vegetables should not be stored close together.  How do you know?  Do you end up throwing away some because you didn’t get it eaten soon enough?

According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year.  And a University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day – that’s a total of 470 pounds a year!  They calculated it was like throwing away about $600 a year.  I know I can’t afford that.

There’s more to storing your produce than just putting them in the refrigerator.   For those things you are to keep in the fridge, here are some guidelines:

  • Keep produce in perforated plastic produce bags.  To perforate your bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing the holes the same distance you see as the holes in the plastic bags of apples at the grocery store.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables in separate areas.  If you have drawers in your refrigerator, that is a great way to keep them apart.  Ethylene can build up, which hastens spoilage.
  • When storing herbs – and asparagus, too – snip off the ends and place them upright in a glass of water, as if they were flowers being put in a vase.  Then cover them with a plastic bag.  Store in the refrigerator, except basil, which should be kept at room temperature.
  • Keep your refrigerator clean at all times.  Clean up spills immediately.
  • Line the drawers with paper towels, and change them regularly.
  • Wipe the moisture off the produce before refrigerating them.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees.  Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to get an idea of the real temperature inside it.

 

Here’s something else to consider.  After they are picked, fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, tasteless, but harmless gas called ethylene.  All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some give it off more than others.  When these ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity to the ethylene-sensitive foods, the gas speeds up the ripening process.  This might work well if you have some unripe produce you want to ripen quickly, but if you want them to last longer, it would be well worth your while to keep a guide like this handy.

 

Ethylene-Producing Food

apples                grapes                 passionfruit

apricots             green onions          peaches

avocados            honeydew             pears

bananas             kiwi                     peppers

blueberries         mangoes               persimmons

cantaloupes        melons                 pineapple

citrus fruit         mushrooms           plantains

cranberries        nectarines             plums/prunes

figs                  okra                     tomatoes

guavas              papayas                watermelons

 

Ethylene-Sensitive Produce

asparagus                   eggplant            potatoes

broccoli                      endives             romaine

Brussels sprouts           escarole             spinach

cabbage                     green beans       squash

carrots                       kale                 sweet potatoes

cauliflower                  lettuce             watercress

chard                         parsley              yams

cucumbers                  peas

 

Refrigerated Foods

Leafy Greens – Wash and dry, then wrap in a paper towel.  Store in a plastic bag.  If you have a lot, place moist paper towels on top of your greens, then keep covered in plastic for about two weeks.

Carrots – Wrap carrots tightly in plastic before placing in the refrigerator for up to a month.  The key to keeping your carrots longer is to keep them moist.  If they get dry, they lose both taste and nutrients.

Eggplant – Ripen eggplant at room temperature, then place it in a perforated bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Celery – Loosely wrap the celery in paper towel, then tightly wrap it in aluminum foil.  store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Grapes – Never wash your grapes before refrigerating them.  Loosely wrap them in plastic.

Zucchini – Do not wash until ready to use.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag.

Broccoli  – Store in a produce bag.  Do not wash first.

Cauliflower – Store directly on the refrigerator shelf, where it will keep fresh for up to two weeks.

Cabbage – Store in a plastic bag.  Do not wash first.  It will store up to two months.

Apples – Keep them sealed in a produce bag.  Refrigerated apples can last up to two months.

Berries – Never wash berries until you’re ready to use them.  Pick through them and throw away any bruised or moldy ones.  Store loosely in shallow containers, covered in plastic.

Beans (Snap, String, Wax, or Green) – Do not wash until ready to use.  Store in a plastic bag.

Cherries – Do not wash until ready to use.  Store in a plastic bag.

Mushrooms – Do not wash until using.  If they are pre-sliced, store in their original packaging.  If they are whole, store loosely in a brown paper bag.  They will keep about a week.  Don’t store in the crisper drawer, though.  It will be too moist for them, and they will quickly rot.

Peppers (Bell, Jalapenos, and others) – Store in a plastic bag for up to a week.  They also freeze well.

Cucumbers – Store in a plastic bag for up to a week.  Do not wash until just before using.

 

Room Temperature Foods

Pineapple – Keep the pineapple on the counter until ripe.  After that, put in a perforated bag and store in the refrigerator.  It should keep about 4 to 5 days.

Peaches – Do not wash until ready to eat.  Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  They should keep 3 to 5 days.

Garlic – Place garlic in a cool place in your kitchen.  If you have a ventilated garlic keeper, that’s a great way to store it.  Whole heads will last 3 to 5 weeks, but once you start breaking off the cloves, it lasts about 10 days.

Bananas – Hang bananas on a hook away from the counter surface to prevent accelerated ripening.  They should last about ten days.  Once they are ripe, you can halt the bananas from ripening further by putting them in the refrigerator – just make sure they are in a sealed bag, away from the other produce.  The skin will turn black, but the fruit inside will be just fine.

Avocados –  An unripened avocado can take up to five days to ripen.  If you need it to ripen quickly, but it in a brown paper bag with a banana.  Once ripe, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Kiwi – Store at room temperature until ripe, then wrap in plastic where it will keep for about a week.

Apricots – Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  They will keep about 3 to 5 days.  Do not wash before storing in the fridge.

Pears – If they aren’t ripe, store them at room temperature.  Once they ripen, store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.  They should keep about a week.

Onions – Store in a cool, dry place that has good air circulation.  They will keep 2 to 3 months.  If you don’t have such a place, store them in a perforated bag in the refrigerator, although they will only last about 1 to 2 weeks in there.  Whatever you do, however, do not store them next to potatoes.  They will spoil faster that way.

Potatoes – Like the onions, keep them in a cool, dry place – just not next to the onions.  Sweet potatoes keep at room temperature for about a week, in a cool dark place for about a month.

Citrus – Because of their thick skin, it doesn’t matter what other produce you store citrus fruits by.  They will last about a week on the counter.  After that, store them in the refrigerator.  They will last another 2 to 3 weeks there.

Melons – Store at room temperature until ripe, then put them in the refrigerator for about a week.  One caveat – cantaloupes can carry food borne illnesses.  Once it’s been cut, keep covered in the refrigerator.  If it’s been at room temperature for more than an hour, throw it away.

Tomatoes – Store them in a cool, dry place.  Keep them in a paper towel lined box or tray with the stems up.  Don’t store them in plastic bags, as the trapped ethylene will make them ripen faster.  Once they have ripened, you can put them in plastic bags in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process.  Let them come to room temperature before using them.

 

Food is expensive.  We can’t afford to waste it.  If you keep this list handy, when you get home from the grocery store you’ll be able to follow through on your good intention to eat a healthier diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detox Bath to Remove Toxins to Refresh and Awaken

I’m in the final stages of putting together a detox cleanse program.  One thing I recommend doing DIY-detox-bath-low-301x174during this cleanse is a detox bath.  There are products on the market you can buy to do this, but it is much easier – and less expensive – to put all the ingredients together yourself.  You probably have all the ingredients in your house already.

There are also many versions of a detox bath.  As part of the program, I will go over the different types so you can decide which one works best for you.  The Ginger Detox Bath is one popular version.

But why do a detox bath, you make be asking.  When we say we are doing a cleanse or detox, we often are referring to the process we go through to clean out our digestive system.  All the work is internal.  As you break things up, though, all those toxins have to go somewhere.  The skin is the biggest detoxifying organ you have, which is why it is often called the third kidney.  The most common way we detox is through our skin with our sweat.  That is why you will also see an exercise component to be used during the detox.  Nothing overly strenuous, just enough movement to get you to sweat a bit.

The detox bath is another great way to sweat out those toxins – and it’s a lot more relaxing.   This bath is also great to do at the first sign of illness, but if you do it once a week, it will help you eliminate what you’ve some of the toxins that you have accumulated and are built up.

The benefits of the ingredients in this detox bath are:

  • Epsom Salts – These help make you sweat, reduce inflammation, and relieve muscle aches.  If you ever buy bath salts, epsom salts are the main ingredient.
  • Coarse Sea Salt – Another common ingredient in bath salts.  They help leach out toxins, and soothe open sores or blemishes.
  • Ground Ginger – This will increase your circulation, open your pores, and make you sweat!
  • Fresh Lemon Juice – Lemon juice is naturally rich with fruity acids and naturally occurring sugars.  It will help with many problems from sloughing  off dead skin cells to reducing age spots.  It will also help boost your skin’s collagen production.

 

Important considerations before taking this bath:

This bath can be fairly dehydrating, so make sure you drink plenty of water during and after the bath.  I usually have my Mason jar full of water with me when I do this, and end up drinking the entire jar during the bath, and then drink another jar after the bath.

When you’re getting out of the bath, please be very careful and move slowly.  You may feel weak or light-headed if you stand up too quickly.  I often have my husband on hand just to make sure.

You will probably feel tired right afterwards, so take this bath at a time when you can go right to bed.

Also, please don’t take a detox bath if you are pregnant, have heart trouble, high blood pressure, or if you are diabetic.  If you are not sure, talk with your doctor first.

If you start to feel like you have the flu – achy or chilled – don’t be worried.  While your body works to detox and flush out the toxins, you may feel a bit under the weather for about half a day.  That usually means it’s working.  Stay hydrated to help your body clear out the toxins, and you should be up and running in no time.  This is another good reason to do this part of a detox when you have some downtime.

 

Detox Ginger Bath Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger.  You can use chopped fresh ginger if you’d like, but make sure you put it in a tea ball or cheesecloth to prevent loose pieces from clogging your drain.
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

Directions:

  • Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Draw a bath, as hot as you can tolerate.   You want it hot enough to sweat, but not so hot that your heart is racing.  If it’s too hot, you will lose metabolic enzymes that are needed to repair your body.
  • Pour the dry mixture in the bowl into the tub, then add in the lemon juice.  The flowing water will help mix it in.
  • Soak in the bath for 20 – 30 minutes.  As the water cools, it also draws toxins out of your body.
  • If you want to stimulate your lymphatic system, gently rub your skin towards your heart.  This will also help clear out toxins.
  • When you get out, pat yourself dry.

 

If you like this bath, you can always make a bulk version of the dry ingredients to have on hand for future use.  It would also make a nice gift.  Keep a tag on it to remind you of the amount you should use.  If you make this in bulk, I would use between 3/4 – 1 cup in your bath, then squeeze in the lemon juice.

Combine this detox bath with a detox smoothie, and you are on your way to great health!

 

 

Best Foods to Eat in the Spring for More Energy

springAlthough we have just had the third blizzard in as many weeks, my calendar says that spring starts this week.  I am thinking positive and believe that it will be noticeable soon.

I love spring!  I find spring to be a new beginning – the time of year to “rise early with the sun” and take a brisk walk.  This reflects the active nature of spring.  Although we can’t see it, much is going on underneath us.  The earth is warming up, and new life is being formed.  I am looking forward to seeing plant life pushing upwards after the slumber of winter.  This awakening can be symbolic of our own unlimited potential for healing.  The sight of the green color of tender young plants seems to nourish my soul through my eyes, so it seems that my appetite for food decreases and my body can begin the natural process of cleansing itself.  It also seems that when I begin to cleanse, not only do I get rid of food residues, but excessive desires and emotions such as  dissatisfaction, impatience, and anger seem to be washed from me, much as if I was taking a shower in the gentle spring rain.  It’s as if there is a veil of dust that is removed from my eyes and mind, and my vision becomes clearer.  Things are seen in new ways.  I know this all seems very poetic, but maybe that’s part of the beauty of the spring time.

This is a time to give attention to becoming aware of yourself and how you express yourself.

This is also the season to attend to your liver and gall bladder.  Your liver has many vital functions, including: regulating your emotions, regulating your hormones, orchestrating digestion, helping with the absorption of nutrients, controlling your muscles and tendons, making healthy blood, and storing your blood.  The liver is known as the master organ of detoxification.   It helps your body cleanse itself of all toxins.   The ancient Chinese called the liver “the general of the body.”

In the spring, we seem to be drawn to begin to naturally eat less –  maybe even to do a fast – to cleanse our body of the fats and heavy foods of the winter season and it’s festivities.  Spring liver cleansing is one of the oldest known health practices.  As far back as 400 B.C., when the Greek culture was flourishing, ancient medical textbooks speak of the practice.

Salty foods, such as soy sauce or miso, all have a strong component that takes away our energy, so they are best limited during the springtime.  The diet at this time of year should be the lightest of the year, and should contain foods which emphasize the more expansive qualities of spring –

  • Young plants – radicchio, lettuce, summer squash, cucumbers, mushrooms, and rhubarb
  • Fresh greens – endive, collard, kale, bok choy, watercress and dandelion greens
  • Herbs – nettles, dandelion root, burdock root, goji berries, and milk thistle, Chinese angelica
  • All berries – strawberries, mulberries, elderberries, gooseberries
  • Sprouts – mung beans, sunflower seeds
  • Immature wheat or other cereal grasses – barley grass, wheat grass

 

Farmer’s markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) will be starting up soon, so take advantage.  If you have one around you, sign up for a CSA.  The weekly packages they deliver are wonderful.  If you have U-Pick lots around you, go on a weekend morning and pick things like strawberries.

Sweet and pungent-flavored foods are recommended as the means of creating your own personal spring.  For this to happen, you can use these foods:

  • A little concentrated sweetener with pungent herbs, such as honey/mint tea.
  • The pungent cooking herbs – basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf – are the ones that you will want to use now.
  • Most of the complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes, and seeds have a primarily sweet flavor which increases with sprouting.
  • Young beets, carrots, and other sweet starchy vegetables, thinned from the spring garden, provide a refreshing sweet flavor.
  • This is also a good time to rid the body of parasites.  A traditional way to do this is a week-long daily dose of raw onions and garlic.  Of course, you might rid your house of everybody else, too, when you do this.  If you have access to Asian foods, mochi (pounded sweet rice) with the herb mugwort, will also rid your body of parasites.

 

Food preparation becomes simpler in the spring.  Raw and sprouted foods can be emphasized.  In Ayurveda, these foods are termed vattic, meaning “wind-like.”  According to Ayurvedic thought, they encourage quickness, rapid movement, and outward activity in general.  They are also cleansing and cooling.

Spring, the first season of the year, represents youth.  Raw foods help bring about this renewal, especially as you consume young plant life and sprouts.

Raw food consumption should increase when you have signs of heat, in warmer climates, and during times of greater physical activity.  Most people do well taking at least a little raw food daily, with greater amounts in their spring and summer diets.  Spring is the best time to increase juicing in your daily practice.  Include some ginger in your juice to help with digestion and a little extra heat until the warmth of summer takes over.

Most people living in temperate climates, including most of the United States and Europe, cook the majority of their food.  If you do cook your food, in the spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time, but at higher temperatures; in this way the food is not as thoroughly cooked, especially the inner part.  If oil is used in spring cooking, a quick high-temperature saute method is appropriate.  When cooking with water, light steaming or minimal simmering is ideal.

Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal.  This is the season you want to adopt new patterns of health to give you inspiration as you create a new you.  If you would be interested in learning more about this, as well as participating in a cleansing fast program, contact me at lynn@feedingyourhealth.com to sign up.   I am also available to answer any other questions you might have about how to help your body in its healing journey.

 

 

 

 

Tips to Stay Calm For Your Health

Getting stronger, healthier, balanced, and thinner have probably been on your resolution lists – and woman on beachmore than once.  But how about being calmer?  Getting calmer is probably the tie that binds all these pieces together.

Eating right, staying healthy, and getting exercise all help you to get to a place of calmness.  There are many studies that show that exercise can be just as effective at treating depression as many medications.  A 30-minute walk can alleviate stress, bring down blood pressure, and regulate your heartbeat.  You might also want to try yoga.  Just doing one pose combined with slow breathing can bring you a sense of peace and calm.  The oxygen from the breathing clears your mind.  When your mind is clear, you will find yourself making better food choices.  When you find yourself making better food choices, it brings you more inner calm, and you will sleep better.

This world we live in seems to be a place of stress.  Everybody has to get somewhere, and in a hurry.  Every job needs to be done and right now.  Bills need to be paid, kids need to be attended to, and it always seems that there is something that needs to be fixed, and in a hurry.  Getting rid of these things is probably not going to happen, but how you deal with them can be changed.  Simple meditation devices like mindful breathing will bring you to that place where life doesn’t seem so frazzled.  And it’s as simple as taking a deep breath.  That’s it.  Take a breath, filling your belly, and slowly let it out.  You can count, if you like.  Try to take 8-10 counts to let it out.  Now how do you feel?  Is there a smile on your face?

So now that you have calmed down a bit, and are ready to make better food choices, what should we look at having?  A simple diet with occasional light fasting goes a long way toward creating deep, peaceful thinking.  Too many ingredients in your meals, very spicy or rich foods, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee, late-night eating, and large evening meals can cause insomnia as well as feeling too mentally scattered or cluttered during the day.  The following substances reduce nervousness, treat insomnia, and improve mental focus by quieting the spirit and helping it stay centered in the heart.

  • Mushrooms – nearly every form of these fungi have cerebral effects.  Poria cocos, one of the most common Chinese “herbs”, is used to settle the nerves and improve fluid balance.  The ling zhi mushroom of   China (reishi in Japan), is becoming widely available in the West as an immune tonic, and directly nurtures the heart, soothes the spirit, and calms the mind.
  • Silicon foods – silicon foods are things like oatstraw tea, barley gruel, oat groat tea, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and celery/lettuce juice.  Silicon foods improve your calcium metabolism and strengthens your nerve and heart tissues.
  • Fruit – mulberries and lemons calm the mind (mulberries have the stronger effect of the two).  Schisandra berries calm the spirit and are prescribed in Chinese herbology for insomnia and to aid memory recall and concentration.  Their astringent nature also lends them to treating frequent urination, diarrhea, and excessive sweating.
  • Seeds – jujube seeds are a widely used Chinese herbal remedy for calming the spirit; they are thought to directly nourish the heart.  Chia seeds also have a sedative action.
  • Spices – dill and basil can be used in both food and teas for their calming effect.
  • Herbs – regular use of chamomile, catnip, scullcap, or valerian is helpful for your nerves person or if you’re having trouble sleeping, until your diet is improved to the extent that herbs are unnecessary.  Taking rose hips with these herbs supplies vitamin C for soothing the nerves, as well.

 

Most importantly, though, do the best you can.  Taking care of stress also means not to stress out too much over what you are – or are not – eating.  You will lose weight better this way, as well.

And, to help you relax and calm down, I am doing a GIVEAWAY.  That’s right – something for FREE.  If you go to this link, you will find many chances to enter my Giveaway.  Through this Giveaway, you will have a chance to win a free, 30-minute consultation with me, plus a Basket Full of Love.  This basket will include scented bath salts, scented soap and a natural ayate washcloth, beeswax candles, massage oil, relaxing tea, and chocolate.  So hurry over – it ends February 28th.

 

 

 

 

7 Foods to Fight the Common Cold and Flu

Seasons seem to be a recurring pattern in our lives.  There are the four seasons of spring, summer, g-c-and-teas-for-flu-coldfall, and winter.  There is baseball season and football season,  there are seasons of being single, being married and having children, and the season of being older with grandchildren.  But let’s not forget the cold and flu season, which is blazing it’s trail everywhere.  Chances are that you, or someone you know, has felt the nasty effects from the flu or the common cold.  Experts at the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that the country’s early flu season hasn’t reached it’s peak yet.

Whether or not you received a flu shot, you still have time to incorporate these raw fruits and vegetables into your daily meals to keep yourself and those around you from waking up prostrate with a high fever, chills, sore throat, and a headache.

  1. Raw Acai (Ah-sigh-ee) – Raw açaí is a purple berry that grows in the Amazon Rainforest and has been a staple source of vitamins and nutrients for native Amazonians for centuries. The fruit tastes like a vibrant blend of berries and chocolate, and is packed with polyphenol antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.
  2. Raw Tomatoes -Raw tomatoes contain the rare and strong antioxidant lycopene, which is an essential nutrient for the body’s lymphatic system. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, which boosts the body’s immune system.
  3. Raw  Citrus Fruits -Raw citrus fruits—such as grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime—have high concentrations of vitamin C and flavonoids, both of which bolster the body’s white blood cells and immune system.
  4. Raw Garlic – Raw garlic is an herbal “wonder drug,” as it has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.  Garlic also contains the active ingredient allin, which hinders free radicals from spreading throughout the body.
  5. Raw Papaya – Raw papaya contains 313 percent of your RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin C, and 67 percent of your RDA of vitamin K, which is necessary for healthy blood circulation and the vitality of the body’s organs.
  6. Raw Ginger – Raw ginger has carminative properties, so it clears out the body’s intestinal track and makes it more robust. Ginger is also a warming herb, which means it improves blood circulation, reduces inflammation, and soothes the respiratory system.
  7. Raw Avocado – Raw avocado is a potassium-rich fruit and the best-known source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health. Avocados also have high concentrations of glutathione, an important antioxidant that improves the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

There are, of course, many other things you can do to keep your body healthy, properly nourished,  and running efficiently, but this will get you going.   If you find yourself frequently coming down with a cold or the flu, have yourself checked, especially your thyroid.  It’s important to change your habits, and not continue what you’ve always done in the past.

The best defense is a good offense.  Isn’t that what they say during football season?  Take control of your health this season, before you are sacked on the sidelines by illness.

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Keep Himalayan Salt in Your Pantry

Salt is a biological necessity of human life.   However, you probably live your life everyday unawareHimalayan salt pink crystals of this.  Most packaged foods have salt already added to it.  Check the label on anything you have in the house that has been processed.   But if you are already in the habit of preparing your own foods, your taste buds – and your body – will immediately tell you when the salt is missing.

Salt was one of the main commodities for trading, because everyone knew that their health was drastically affected when it was missing.  The word ‘salary’ comes from the Latin ‘salarium argentum’ – salt money.   It referred to the payment made to every Roman soldier.  The city of Rome may have begun as a center for trading salt, much as Venice did.  Man-made salt ponds along the Mediterranean shore date back to Roman times.  Salt was already being mined in the Alps when Rome was founded.  Early on the salt traders came to realize the necessity for salt.  The corruption that arose around the possession and distribution of salt created monopolies.  Around 500 B.C., the salt traders at the Roman port of Ostia raised the price so high that the state was forced to take over the industry.

To continue to understand it’s historic importance, salt has been taxed by governments from the time of the ancient Chinese and Romans to late medieval Burgundy, where salt was taxed at 100% as it was delivered from the salt works.  When Burgundy became a part of France, the notorious salt tax, known as “la gabelle”, became necessary for the government.  Cardinal Richelieu proclaimed that it was as important to France as American silver was to Spain.  In 1789, the repeal of the salt tax was a major goal of the French Revolutionary War, but Napoleon restored it to pay for the war debt when he became emperor – and it continued until 1945!  It is said that a Spanish salt pan financed the voyages of Columbus.  The state of New York paid for the Erie Canal with it’s salt tax!

Salt is essential for your life.  I know many people have been told to reduce – or even eliminate – salt in their diets.  But your body was engineered to like the taste of salt because it knows it needs the minerals in salt to survive.

Uses for salt

  • Salt helps retain water in your body – Our body relies on electrolytes, which includes salt, to help carry out electrical impulses that control many of our body’s functions.  One of these functions is our thirst mechanism.  Electrolytes trigger this, which then encourages us to consume an adequate amount of water.  With this water, our kidneys are able to keep the appropriate amount of electrolytes in our bloodstream.  The retention of this water also has an impact on our blood pressure.
  • Salt stimulates muscle contraction – Salt is important to your nervous system because it stimulates muscle contractions, which prevents your muscles from cramping.  When you exercise and sweat, you lose salt and water.  This creates an imbalance between your electrolytes and salt.  Electrolytes control the flow of fluids in and out of your cells.  This imbalance can prevent the muscles and nerves from responding and having a normal recovery.  So, salt is essential for retaining water in your bodily tissues, including your muscles.
  • Salt contains nutrients vital to your digestive system – Salt plays a primary role in your body’s process of digestion and absorption.  It activates an enzyme in your mouth called salivary amylase.  This is what allows your taste buds to taste your food in your mouth.  As your food makes it’s way through your digestive system, the salt will help your body to break down the food.  One of the ways it does this is by creating hydrochloric acid.  This is a digestive secretion which lines your stomach walls.  This helps your body to digest the food, rather than digesting itself.
  • A lack of salt is dangerous – A sodium deficiency is when your body fails to receive an adequate supply of sodium.  This is very prevalent in excessively high temperatures, which causes your body to perspire heavily and you become dehydrated.  Sodium deficiency can lead to shock because your blood pressure has decreased too quickly.  Too little salt can lead to a disturbance in your tissue-water balance, as well as your acid-base.

 

Why Himalayan Salt?

  1. The chemical treatment of table salt – Today’s common table salt has little in common with natural salt.  Your table salt is actually about 97.5% sodium chloride.  Sodium chloride is an unnatural chemical form of salt that your body recognizes as foreign.  Water molecules surround the sodium chloride to break up the compound.  The water taken from your system to do this results in a fluid imbalance, which contributes to things like arthritis and kidney stones.  There are 2.5% other chemicals, such as moisture absorbers, that are added.  Another thing to consider is that commercial salt is dried at a high heat, so that the natural chemical structure of the salt becomes altered.
  2. Trace minerals – Minerals are the foundational nutrient for your entire body.  Organic minerals are also referred to as electrolytes.  Himalayan salt has a rich mineral content that includes over 84 minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.  These are identical to the elements by which our bodies were built with.  They are actually alkaline minerals that help keep you hydrated, fill your body with the necessary electrolytes, and balance your sodium-potassium ratios.  An imbalance in your sodium-potassium ratio will not only lead to high blood pressure, but also heart disease and stroke, along with several other diseases.
  3. More easily absorbed – Your body will become hydrated more easily.  The minerals are in an ionic molecular form instead of colloidal like regular salt.  Colloidal minerals are not readily absorbed by the body due to the absence of an electrical charge and their relatively large size.  Colloidal minerals are unable to pass through the membrane that lines the digestive tract.  Ionic minerals, on the other hand,  are easily transported across the membranes of the digestive tract.  Because they are charged, your body has to use less energy to absorb the minerals.

Besides using this salt in preparing your food, it has another amazing use – in your bathtub.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, observed fishermen soaking their injured hands in the sea water.  He also noticed that they had very few infections or complications after doing this.  After more research, he encouraged his patients to do this because he found it encouraged a mineral balance in the blood, as well as a release of toxins between the blood and water.

The detox affect of a salt bath is found to be the equivalent of a 3-day juice fast.  It will reduce acidity and inflammation, stimulate your circulation, hydrate and balance the pH of your skin.

It’s easy to do.  Fill your bath tub with very warm water, then add about 2 lbs of salt.  Make sure you dissolve it well.  Soak for about 20-30 minutes.  When you are done, air dry and don’t put on any lotions or creams.  Make sure to keep drinking water.   The correct concentration is essential.  You need to have a 1% solution – that’s about 27-32 gallons of water to about 2.6 lbs. of salt.   I find this bath to be very relaxing.

I encourage you to include Himalayan salt in your basic pantry essentials.  Who knows, it could become a bartering commodity if things get really tough.  If you need more information or ideas about salt, give me a call.

Greens for Breakfast and Other Ideas!

 

When I start working with people, and we’re cleaning up and tweaking different aspects of their meals, the question of what to eat for breakfast usually comes up.   Many of their usual choices like bacon and eggs, toast, sugary dried cereals – even granola, due to its high sugar and fat content – go under the microscope and fall short of the good nutrition needed to carry them through the morning hours.  So what choices remain that will be quick and easy?

You can try a sweet and crunchy raw muesli recipe made with nuts and dates and topped with fresh fruit and nut milk or raw cashew cream.  Whole steel cut oats can be soaked overnight to soften them up for a raw food breakfast – no cooking needed. Add nuts, fruits, dates and cinnamon to make a bowl of oatmeal that can be gently warmed on the heating pad of a coffee pot or even in your dehydrator.  Though not exactly a cereal, you could also try a raw trail mix for breakfast, or make up a raw food granola using goji berries and buckwheat.  And how can I talk about healthy raw food breakfasts without mentioning fruit smoothies?  If you haven’t done so yet, remember to download your free copy of the smoothie book I wrote.   It is available on my website.  That will also get you signed up for my newsletters, which also includes other tasty recipes.

For the more dedicated and ambitious, I recommend a green drink of some kind as a start to your day. This could be a freshly pressed vegetable juice – predominantly green – a green smoothie, or a green soup.

The following are two of my favorite green breakfast recipes.  One is a juice, the other a smoothie.

 

Lemon Ginger Blast

Benefits: This drink will clean and wash the system from the inside out.  Drinking this on a daily basis is like doing enzyme and mineral therapy.  This is a very powerful drink which I have been thriving on for several years.

  • Cleanses and washes the system
  • Stimulates the digestive system
  • Cuts, mucous, fat and parasites
  • Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and a super anti-oxidant!
  • Enhances circulation
  • Helps clean and rebuild new blood – especially with greens added!

I am giving you the beginner recipe.  Feel free to add garlic or greens to this.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2″ fresh ginger, sliced (more if you prefer)
  • 2 apples (Fuji and Gala are preferred, as they are sweeter.  Green apple if you have Candida.)
  • 1 lemon
  • A dash of Cayenne Pepper (start with the kind from the spice rack and work up to the 90,000 heat unit cayenne pepper)
  • Add water if you want to dilute it a bit.

Directions:

Put the ginger, apples, lemon through a juicer.  If you are adding garlic and/or greens, juice these, as well.  Add the cayenne pepper and water.  It usually makes about 32 ounces.

 

Lemony Mint Green Smoothie                                                                                       

  • 1-2 medium apples, depending on desired sweetness
  • ½ – 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 head Romaine hearts
  • 1/2 – 1 medium avocado, depending on the thickness and richness desired
  • 1 handful mint leaves
  • 2 -4 cups water

Start with the softest  ingredients and blend in your blender until creamy. Adjust to your desired thickness, sweetness and lemon flavor.

This smoothie is very refreshing and you can drink it at any time of day. Make up your own version. Use different herbs. Add other green vegetables.  I always find it refreshing and very energizing.

As I plan the classes I am going to teach in the next year, one that is on the list is a Breakfast Ideas class.  I want to give you ideas that will allow you to start the day in a powerful way.  Stay tuned for an announcement of the date

If you would like to learn more about fine-tuning your meal plans, you may contact me through my website and we will schedule a time for a strategy session.

What do you have for breakfast?  I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below.

 

 

 

7 Things Every Parent Should Remember

I have seven children. I clearly know that being a parent is a hard job. When people ask me what I do, I always first reply that I am a mother. It is the most important job I will ever hold. It is a hard concept to grasp that many of our actions will have a ripple effect on this other person that is involved in our life.

Along with the work involved there are a lot of benefits that come along with raising children. For me they are a continual source of joy and wonder. There can be no greater sense of accomplishment when you are there to witness a child’s self-discovery. Their discovery can become your discovery, as well. But before this happens, you may question yourself – your motives and actions – as to the efficacy of your methods and if you are really doing the right thing. During this time, please keep in mind these seven things that can calm your fears and uplift your spirit.

  1. This too shall pass.  While this might seem trite at first, there is great truth in it.   Your first thought in thinking this is that you just want to get through this phase.  But wait – you really might want to take notice of each phase your child goes through.  This will probably be the only time your child will go through this phase, and while it might be fraught with emotion,  there are things to be learned from this time in your child’s life – for both of you.   Make sure to journal each phase, complete with pictures or other bits and pieces to keep in your memories.  Believe me, you will be glad you did as you glance back during much calmer times.
  2. Children are resilient.  Actually, to give each of us our due, we all are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.    It is actually healthy for our children to have to struggle to achieve certain things.   If we do too much for them when they are young, when they reach young adulthood they will be poorly equipped to handle the stress that will come into their lives.   We can be there for our children as a support and to give some advice, but they should start learning early on that they are capable of doing things for themselves.  This can start with crawling.  We are always so excited for them to learn a new skill, we sometimes take over and do it for them.  We need to be patient – with our child as well as ourselves – as they learn each new phase.  There is also a great discovery about ourselves as we do this.
  3. Ask for help.  I understand this concept now, more than ever, as my older children have children of their own.   You can read all the books and watch all the videos and shows, but sometimes there is something to be learned from someone you know that has been there.   Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of true strength in yourself, that you have the wisdom to know that there is more for you to learn.    Also, sometimes in our lives we need a break, a breather to re-analyze things.  That is when you call on those in your life circle to help – whether it be for an hour or a day.  To have that quiet time knowing that your child is in competent hands can help you move miles as a parent.  And, as your child sees you reaching out in search of help, she will also learn from your example, and know that as she goes through the phases of her life that she can ask for help.  I have to admit that I feel great joy when my children come to me looking for help – whether it be on cooking or to help with their children.
  4. There is always something good.  There is always a silver lining, the sunny side of the road.  The work is in trying to catch that glimpse of it.  I have found that when I feel that I have warped my children for good, and that I am the worse mother that ever existed, I need to take a walk.  The fresh air, the movement of my muscles, seems to clear some of the cobwebs.  By the time I get back – and on the really bad days that can be a while – I have a different perspective on things.  They are not as bleak as I once thought.  I have also found that a good yoga session can give me a good paradigm shift.   The key is to realize that when things seem bad, there is probably something to be learned from it.  Sometimes lessons are hard, harder than we thought.  As we breathe through these times, we will find ourselves stronger than ever.
  5. You’re growing. This builds on the last thought.  Just as your child grows stronger with each skill and lesson they learn, so do you.  Our children are our greatest teachers.  They reflect so much of ourselves.  Rather than retreat from it, embrace this with joy.  When things happen, ask yourself why, what is to be learned.  This is another great reason to make sure you journal.  You may want to have a journal that you will throw away when it is done, never to be read again.  You can write things in this that you need to release, to truly understand yourself in a loving way.  As you grow, you become a better parent, a better you.
  6. Life isn’t fair.  While this seems like a negative thought, it really isn’t.  Life has its ups and downs, much as hiking a trail.  There will be rocks to trip over, or a limb in the way.  But you will eventually reach the summit and see the beautiful view.   While we are each individuals, with different talents and skills, we also have different obstacles to overcome to magnify our talents.  We all have a trail to take.  This is actually the great equalizer.  Sometimes there seems to be others that have all the luck and things come easily to them.  Know that this is an illusion.  If somebody else’s child seems to have everything, then maybe they haven’t learned the greatest lesson – to have hardships that help them to grow into a better human being.   One of the best lessons you can teach your child is that life is not a smooth path, that there will be hardships.  But they can get over these bumps in the road and be a better person for it.
  7. You can do this.  Sometimes you have to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself,  “You can do this.”  Give yourself a big hug and know that you are up to the task.   Your child was given to you for a purpose.  You have much to teach each other.  You are not alone.  Your child is not alone.   I know you can do this.

While you might be wondering what all of this has to do with feeding your health, remember that the primary way we feed ourselves is through our emotions.  When you take care of yourself emotionally, you’ll be ready to take care of yourself physically.  You will be able to help teach your children proper health and nutrition, to be their best selves.   I know you can do it.

 

Is Eating Healthy More Expensive?

The first wealth is health.  —  Ralph Waldo Emerson

The other day when I was in a grocery store looking over some avocados, I overheard a conversation between a couple that were also looking to purchase  some avocados.  After admiring them, they looked at the price of 2 for $3.00.  After exclaiming at the price, they put them down, left the produce aisle, and headed into the aisles full of boxed, canned and packaged foods where they can buy thousands of calories of poor-quality, nutrient-poor, processed foods that are filled with sugar, fat and salt for the same $3.00.  This is the same scenario many of us go through as we try to feed our families every day.  I understand this same dilemma as I have tried to feed my family of nine over the years, all within an ever-diminishing budget.

People have been complaining about the high prices of healthy food for decades.  It’s one of the biggest arguments against eating better and including more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds in our diets.  It certainly appears to be easier, more convenient and cheaper to eat in a less healthy manner.  In fact, most Americans’ eating habits do not meet even the Federal dietary recommendations.

But  wait!  Let’s move the kaleidoscope a bit for a new shift in perspective.

There have been plenty of reports and studies that have reinforced this misconception that healthy food has a high cost to it, but a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture turns all the old reports on their heads.  All the previous studies have focused on a cost per calorie basis.  On the surface, that makes sense.  Calories are the fuel our bodies require to move and function.  We focus on them, count them, and obsess over them.  Americans, especially, eat well more calories than we need each day.  The odd paradox in this is that food insecurity – not knowing where the next meal is coming from or worrying that we will not have enough money to feed our families – leads to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Since the 1970s, we’ve been consuming, on average, an extra 500 calories per person.  When you eat unhealthy foods that come in the form of cheap, artificial foods that include things like high-fructose corn syrup, the costs of medical visits, co-pays, prescription medications, and other health services skyrocket.

We all know that many of these foods are bad for our health.  It also affects the costs associated with our health care.  There are some studies that show that health care costs related to obesity are $118 billion per year.  That’s more than twice the cost of expenditures related to smoking!  72% of Americans are overweight and over one-third are medically obese.  One-in-three children today will be diabetic in their lifetime and, for the first time in our history, life expectancy is declining.

A report from the Worldwatch Institute called, “Overfed and Underfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition,” documented the real costs of obesity related to poor diet – and this does not include other effects from a poor diet such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis and other autoimmune diseases.  Some of the conclusions are:

  • Obese people account for a disproportionate share of health-related absences from work.
  • Obesity accounts for 7 percent of lost productivity due to sick leave and disability.
  • 7 percent of all of North Carolina’s healthcare expenditures are related to obesity.
  • Obese people visit their physicians 40 percent more than normal weight people.
  • Obese people are 2.5 times more likely to require drugs prescribed for cardiovascular and circulation disorders.
  • Over 100,000 people a year have gastric bypass surgery.

However, the over consumption of calories also means we’ve been looking at the cost of food incorrectly.  We know we are overdoing it when it comes to calories.  But maybe, to help us out, why not take a look at our food on a price per weight or price per serving basis.  This publication by the USDA also calculates the cost of meeting the recommendations for each food group. For all measurements except the price of food energy (calories), the authors found that it didn’t cost as much for healthy foods compared to less than healthy foods (defined for this study as foods that are high in saturated fat, added sugar, and/or sodium, or that contribute little to meeting dietary recommendations).

So, healthy foods are more expensive per calorie, but are far less expensive when looking at weight or serving size.  Whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit are much less expensive in a price-per-gram or price-per-serving size way.    Is eating healthy really more expensive?  Not even remotely.

Processed foods trick us into thinking we are saving money, but we eat much more of them before feeling full and satisfied.  A single serving of fresh fruit contains antioxidants, fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals and leaves us feeling more sated then a less expensive donut.   Processed foods lead us to overeat and as we consume more servings, the price climbs.  These are unnecessary calories that the body turns into fat.  These processed foods are also very poor in nutrition – even if they are cheaper – containing none of the vital vitamins, minerals, water content, and fiber necessary for your body.  Therein lies the hidden costs of cheap, convenient food.  The idea that you can save money by eating well is further supported by studies like the one published by the American Dietetic Association that shows eating well to lose weight is actually cheaper than eating poorly.  The authors of the study concluded that “adopting a lower-energy, nutrient dense diet did not increase dietary costs over time.  Consequently, cost should not be a barrier in the adoption of a healthful diet.”

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1.  Listen to Gandhi.  Yes, Gandhi!  He said that we should never mistake what is habitual for what is natural.  Case in point:  Some Chinese are very poor and yet they eat extremely well — small amounts of animal protein with an abundance of vegetables.
  2. Be willing to learn. We have to learn new ways of shopping and eating, new ways of ordering our priorities around our health and nutrition that supports our well-being, even if it is hard at the beginning.
  3. Do your research.  There are ways to find cheaper sources of produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, and lean animal protein.  You just need to seek them out.  It doesn’t all have to be organic.  Simply switching from processed foods to whole foods is a HUGE step in the right direction.
  4. Make an effort.  Eating healthy does take more planning.  It may require you to find new places to hunt and gather for your family.  You might have to reorder your priorities regarding where you spend your money and your time so that you can make healthier eating choices.

Remember, eating healthy foods without spending a lot is possible – and you can do it.

O sleep, O gentle sleep…

A well-spent day brings happy sleep. – Leonardo da Vinci                                    sleep angel cute slumber picture and wallpaper

Over the last year, I have been working as a waitress.  My hours were long and late.  But in June I made the decision to be back at home and working on my business, so I quit working at the restaurant.  However, my body clock didn’t register the change.  I would stay up too late, get up too late, and then I’d be a bit groggy and out of sync.  I found I was just getting up and struggling right into the day, rather than gently waking up and having the time I needed for things like yoga or running and my juicing.  I have been struggling with going to bed at a reasonable time – 10:00 pm – and waking up at a reasonable time – 5:00 am.  So I became my own client and did some research on the things I needed to change.  I share with you these things in case you might find yourself in the same dilemma.  I have also found that my thinking has become more clear and I have more energy to accomplish many more things on my ‘ta-da’ list.

 

1. Eat Your Last Meal Earlier

The earlier I eat my last meal of the day, the stronger my digestion is and the less energy my body has to use in order to break down that food while I lay in bed.  I usually try to finish eating about 4-6 hours before bedtime, and then just drink water to keep me satisfied.  This may seem difficult at first, because it was for me, but this is a strong habit to adopt.  I can only suggest that you try it for a while and then decide if its right for you.

2. Eat Light

A diet high in nuts, seeds, and other plant fats, as well as any diet high in animal fats that would include meat, eggs, and dairy, would make me sleep more.  These foods would slow me down.  Instead of 7 hours, I would need 8-9.   Still healthy eating, but I was not as vibrant and totally on point and awake in the morning.  Just because we are ‘eating healthy’ doesn’t mean that there is no longer any room for improvement.  A diet high in juicy fruits and leafy greens always gives me the best results, especially if I combined these two items together in a green smoothie.

3. Wake with Sunlight

As annoying as it may seem…waking with sunlight on your face will dramatically affect your mood and productivity for the day in a positive way. You will need much less sleep and be in a better mood.  Rise with the sun and you can’t go wrong.  I would sometimes sleep in places that were totally closed off from light and it was so much easier to stay tired and lay in bed an extra few hours.  Our brains need the light…don’t deprive.

4. Breathing Exercises

I have always felt my best while I was consistently doing breathing exercises.  I take 10-20 DEEP breaths before I go to bed, and when I rise in the morning, and by doing so I feel that I am really oxygenating my blood and my brain… therefore giving me that extra “Ooomph” in the morning. How many people regularly take big deep breaths everyday?  Hardly anyone that I know.  Do you think this could make a positive difference? Would it be worth trying for a week?

5. Daily Moderate Exercise

When we exercise, we oxygenate our blood, organs, and, of course…our brain.  It helps to rid our bodies of toxins, and, according to a recent Duke University study, is just as effective at fighting depression as Prozac.  Hmmmm….

6. Super Hydrated

Again… It comes down to oxygen….

Most people are quite dehydrated, but because they’ve never been super-hydrated they have no idea just how dehydrated they really are.  I would even go as far as saying that people who eat more fruits and vegetables are just “less dehydrated” than the average person.  Sure raw fruits and vegetables contain tons of water, but that doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t crave direct water consumption.  How does this effect your sleep?  The more dehydrated you are the harder it is for your body to recharge and detoxify. The longer it takes for your body to detoxify the more sleep and energy your body requires.  So here’s the thing – you’ll never know how dehydrated you really are unless you get super-hydrated. For non-active adults and youth that means 1 Liter of water per 45 pounds of body weight. And for active adults and youth that means 1.5 Liters of water per 45 pounds of body weight.  I also like to put a pinch of my pink Himalayan salt in there, as well as some fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

As for my sleep pattern right now, I’ve been staying up until 10:00-10:30 pm  and wake around 5:00-5:30 am.  I think it will also help for me to do some mattress checking to get a firmer mattress.

My theory is if I cut one hour of sleep per week, that means I get an extra seven hours to do something.  That’s like an extra work day.  Couldn’t you benefit from an entire extra day each week to take care of all of your goals and things on your to-do list?  Think of what you could accomplish!

And also… if you can sleep near plant-life, or better yet – outside, by all means do so.  Oxygen!!!

Experts love to come to the public with facts and figures about how we need X amount of sleep because of this or that. But from my first hand experience this may not be the case.  And you don’t need some expert telling you what is and isn’t possible.  I’m here saying – try it for yourself!  You simply can’t sleep anymore when your eyes open up after 7 hours.  The body wakes up when it is ready, and you just have to trust it.  Again, try it and let me know. I’ve only experienced this  while eating more raw foods.  Talk about a quality and quantity of life enhancer!

We have the tools now to be more productive, more joyful, and more effective in our lives. And the best part about it is we don’t have to wait for some future pill or seal of approval.  A new life awaits you right here, right now!  Are you ready to embrace it?

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