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Being in the health and wellness field, I am often asked how it is that I don’t seem to get sick.  Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid getting the flu or a cold in the first place, without chemicals and major expense.

1) Reduce Stress – Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, our flight or fight response.  This response increases the hormone adrenaline, which then increases our heart rate and blood flow.  Back in the day, we developed this response in order to increase our chances Meditationof survival when chasing down food, or running from becoming food.  The body focuses on protecting all vital organs and functions when under stress, and all non-vital functions go by the wayside.  Examples of non-vital functions are our immune system, reproductive system, etc.

As a result, if we want to stay healthy, we need to find ways to reduce stress…like practicing yoga, getting more sleep, and meditation. 🙂  Most days, I meditate for at least 5 minutes per day, and usually in the morning before I’ve begun my day.  If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.  Meditation is just focusing on one thing…instead of worry, focus on your breath, your gratitude for something in your life, or your intention for a good day – these are just a few examples.  Check out this Stanford study on stress:  http://killerstress.stanford.edu/

2) Neti Pot 1 -2x per day when you’re not feeling well, use all of the time if you suffer from allergies.  If you don’t know what this is, go to Walgreens or CVS and ask the pharmacist to show you where it is in the store.  Click on the link to learn more about this simple and easy remedy.  This is so effective and simple, everyone should have one in their home!

3) Green Tea – I try to drink as much green tea as I possibly can.  Green Tea is rich with antioxidants in the form of Catechins.  One of the teabagmany benefits of Catechins is that it helps boost the immune system.  Green Tea also has an element that increases the good bacteria in your intestines and stomach, helping you combat future colds.  (I do want to add that it’s been proven that adding milk to your tea changes the chemical composition of the tea and reduces its benefits.)  Read more on the many benefits of Tea:  Dr. Pratt on Tea

4) Avoid Antibiotics, Z pack, etc – I try to stay clear of antibiotics for the common cold or flu. By definition, antibiotics are anything that destroy bacteria or inhibit their growth.  Sounds great, except that this means the antibiotics will kill ALL the bacteria in your body.  Unfortunately, it can’t tell the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff, and the good stuff residing in our intestines and stomach lining actually help to prevent us from getting colds.  Once you’re on the antibiotic wagon, it’s tough to get off.  Keep the good bacteria up, keep your immune system primed, and the common cold might not be as common in your life!  Bacteria and Colds

5) Lastly, and I know we might not like this one, but eat HEALTHY.  Your car doesn’t run well when you put junk into it, and neither do you.  If it’s impossible for you to eat healthy regularly, then at least try to feed your body with the good stuff when you’re sick.  The good news iveggiess, in the winter months, we need to eat more filling foods to protect our bodies from the cold.  Avoid canned, processed and frozen foods and eat fresh fruits that are in season, vegetables, and root vegetables, (sweet potatoes, radish, beets, carrots,) instead.  If you’re meat eater, try to buy meat that is from grass-fed or free range animals.  Incorporate foods that include live bacteria, such as certain kinds of yogurt, to keep the stomach lining full of good cold-fighting bacteria.  Most of our colds originate in our bellies!  Check out our Recipes, and next time we run our Sugar Challenge or Wellness Challenge, join us!  The quickest way to bust your bad habits is to join an accountability team.  Eating well will change your life, and increase your pocket-book.

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One of my criterias for finding and trying healthy recipes, is that the recipe is easy.  If it easy, and then yummy, I will make it again.  This one passes easy and yummy!  This recipe came from Doug Kaufman’s book Cooking Your Way to Good Heath An awesome recipe book if you’re looking to reduce candida in your body.

I tried this warm, right when it was done cooking. It reminded me of the chocolate molten cake filling that I’ve had on a Carnival Cruise!  I tried it cold as the recipe suggests, and it was yummy too.  Definitely satisfies my chocolate craving.

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup xylitol, powdered in a coffee grinder or blender (I didn’t do this.)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp arrowroot powder (I couldn’t find this without driving to a health food store.  If you’re not gluten intolerant, 2 tbsp of flour = 1 tbsp arrowroot powder.)

Process:

Pour coconut milk into a bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth.  While whisking, pour 1/3 of the coconut milk into the eggs.  Add the unsweetened cocoa and continue to use the whisk until it’s all smooth.

Get out a med. saucepan and set over med-high heat, pour the remaining coconut milk into the saucepan, along with the xylitol, salt and arrowroot powder.  Whisk to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is hot and just beginning to thicken.

Very slowly, while whisking, pour the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg/cocoa mixture.

Once the two are combined, pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat to medium.  Continue to stir for about 3-4 minutes more until the mixture becomes thick like pudding.

Pour into individual ramekins or whatever you have around that can easily go into your fridge.

It will take 2 hours to completely chill and set.

Continuing with the Pumpkin craze, here is a recipe for a healthy and amazing pumpkin pudding.  It’s good to have healthy snacks around, I can finish this in 2 days all by myself!  If you like pumpkin, you will love this, and it’s HEALTHY, so you will feel good after eating it.  It’s also easy to make…another requirement of mine. 🙂

Pumpkin is like the red-headed step child of the squashes, and it’s tough to work it into our diets.  It also happens to be a nutrition superstar.  It’s high in fiber, and low in calories, and it packs in a ton of disease fighting nutrients that work synergistically together to keep you in optimum health: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E.  To top it off, it tastes good!  Later, I’ll write an article on why we should care so much about carotenoids, but just know that they do your body a great deal of good, (more than just the claimed saying that they improve your eyesight.)

I probably should have taking this pic when it was in the casserole! Trust me though, this is good.

Recipe:

1/4 cup powdered stevia or Xylitol

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs (I like to use eggs with Omega-3 content since we typically don’t get a lot of Omega 3 in our diets)

One 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin

One 12-ounce can evaporated nonfat milk or 12-ounce coconut milk or almond milk

Sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a small bowl.  Beat the eggs in a larger bowl, then stir in the entire can of pure pumpkin with the eggs.  Next, add the spices to the egg/pumpkin mixture.  Last, gradually stir in the milk.  Pour into a shallow casserole or oven-proof dish.  Place in oven for 30-40 minutes.  Be careful not to over-bake; the center should still be slightly wiggly.  Cool and enjoy at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for later.

 

Sugar and Core Challenge

How long:  21 days

When: Nov 1 – Nov 21

Where:  Wherever you are – at home, at work, in the mall, at the airport, at your friend’s house, or in the park.

Why 21 days:  It takes 21 days to bust a habit

Why Now:  Before we get into the holidays is a good time to cleanse and prime our bodies so that we make clear choices at the wonderful festivities this time of year brings!

Yay Handstand!

Why Sugar and Core together:  Both require intention, discipline and sharpening of will power.  Most will likely find either the core or the sugar challenge to be easier over the other, the one that is most difficult for you to stick to, is the one that is needed the most.  Will power is like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to work.Cost: 1 class card or $10 (depending on your program and where you are)

How it works:

Sugar

No refined sugars (desserts, muffins, coffee cake, candy, most chocolate, café drinks with sugar, fruit juices with added sugar) for only 21 days. (I would like to include alcohol since it just converts to sugar, but so do carbs, and then we’re getting into the Wellness Challenge.  Go ahead & drink your wine. J)

**Note: I will be posting healthy, no sugar, dessert ideas throughout the challenge!

Core

Week 1: Core work 50 breaths, 7 times per week

Week 2: Core work 75 breaths, 7 times per week

Week 3: Core work 100 breaths, 7 times per week

**1 breath = inhale/exhale.  There is no core work too easy or too hard, you will adjust it to YOUR strength and situation.  I will offer ideas only!

Challenge to win – I’m changing this up!  If you post all 21 days, and have no cheats or core skips, you will earn 3 free classes!  (if you’re not a Miko Yoga student, you will earn your $10 back!)

Quick Summary:

–           Earn 1 point for every post regarding challenge – post right here, on this page @ realgreendaily.com

–          7 points = 1 free class; (earn as many as 3 free classes)

–          Lose 1 point for each cheat or skip

Long Summary:

It’s important that you use the blogsite www.realgreendaily.com to post – this creates accountability.  Trust me, you will think twice about having a piece of chocolate, or skipping your core work, if you know you’re going to have to fess up on the blog to everyone!

For every post you make stating how you resisted a sweet, ate a sweet, did your core work and how you feel about it, sat on the couch and ate potato chips and how you feel about that, you will earn 1 point.  7 full points = 1 free class.  This means, if you post all 21 days, and have no cheats or core skips, you will earn 3 free classes!  For each cheat you have, you will lose 1 point.  In the spirit of authenticity, please be honest, you will only be cheating yourself in more ways than one if you’re not!

I LOVE pumpkin – pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin pudding – you name it, if it’s pumpkin, I like it.  (Fall is a great time of year for me!!)  The trouble I find is that almost all pumpkin dishes are loaded with added sugar!  So, I’ve created an awesome Healthy Yummy Pumpkin Smoothie recipe that you can feel good about enjoying.

If you want to skip over my commentary here, the recipe is at the bottom, but before I give away the recipe, I need be completely honest with you.  The other morning, I felt Fall creeping in, and my Pumpkin craving soared.  I excitedly went to my pantry to pull out a can of 100% Pure Pumpkin puree, and guess what I found!?  I found that I had mistakenly bought Pumpkin Pie mix!  The little devil on my left shoulder started rubbing her hands together with an excited smile, and she told me, “hey, it’s Organic, so it’s all good.”  The little angel on my right shoulder tried to reason, reminding me that I am not supposed to have a lot of sugar, the doctor would not approve…but alas, just this once, (yea right,) the little devil won…and I excitedly whipped up my smoothie recipe with the Organic Pumpkin Pie mix.  It’s funny because it sounded SO good, wrong, worth it and delicious, but like every other time I give in, it wasn’t!  I had such a massive sugar rush to the head that morning, I wasn’t myself, and then was greeted by the massive sugar plummet by lunch time – I had as much energy as a pancake. 🙂

Two points here:

1) Listen to your angel!  We will feel better, and ultimately, that’s all we want from life, is to FEEL GOOD!

2) Just because it is Organic, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Healthy Yummy Pumpkin Smoothie (The real deal)

2-3 heaping scoops canned Pure Pumpkin

1/2 frozen banana or 1/2 apple

5 shakes cinnamon

5 shakes cloves

nutmeg to taste

water, coconut milk, or almond milk

1 scoop plain greek yogurt (optional)

spinach or barley grass (optional)

pinch or drop of stevia and vanilla extract

Blend up and enjoy

I’ve recently been practicing a method of hydrotherapy called Therapeutic Hot and Cold treatment, and thought I would share!

Why Hydrotherapy:  Water has the ability to improve circulation, waste removal, balance the endocrine (hormone) system, stimulate the lymphatic system, improve the immune system, and expedite healing by way of exposing the skin to hot and cold water.  When our skin is exposed to hot water, our blood vessels dilate, they contract when exposed to cold water – this in turn affects the entire body.

Method and How:  This method is really easy to practice every day you take a shower!  You will alternate between cold and hot water, leaving the cold water on for about 30 seconds, and the hot water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, repeating 1-3 times as needed or desired.

When you are nearly finished with your shower, slowly reduce the heat as far as you can stand it, (eventually all the way to cold.)  Allow the cooler water to cover all over your body, even under your feet!  If any of your body is sore or in pain, focus the cool water on this area.  Then increase the temperature and allow the water to stay hot for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  It’s important that you allow the body to become very warm internally before turning back on the cold water.  Repeat this 1-3 times.  Turn off the water, and dry yourself off with a towel, rubbing briskly.

As I write this, it is August and Summer is a great time to test this out as you’re least likely to be too sensitive of the cold water.   If you find that the cold water gives you less than positive results, increase the temperature, or cease practicing this method.

On Saturday, we celebrated the end of our 4-week Wellness Challenge by having a Bhakti Potluck where everyone participating was able to share their favorite Wellness recipes.  The great thing about eating well; you quickly become a master creative cook in the kitchen!  At first, the ingredients needed to eat well seem overwhelming, but you’ll notice that the same key ingredients show up over and over again…and suddenly, cooking becomes really fun and easy!  (I think it’s important to mention that I was NOT raised following my Mom in the kitchen.  The kitchen is something that I’ve grown to get to know in adulthood.  For example, Sarah Oliver had to tell me how to bake fish about 7 times before I mustered up the courage to give it a try!  And if you’ve ever baked fish, you know it’s probably one of the most basic things you can do in the kitchen!  I think it’s easier than Mac n’ Cheese!)  So, that being said, you can all do this!!

Here are some items that were shared today, and they were ALL fantastic!

Click on the image, and you’ll be directed to the recipe!

Melissa’s Recipe. This is really fantastic. If you had your eyes closed, you might even think there was cheese in this pizza!

Amanda’s Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Recipe – Recipe link to come!

Bedtime Blueberries – Really easy, sweet and light recipe!

Melissa shared this recipe from tgipaleo.com

I shared this Baba Ganoush Recipe. It’s good on it’s own, as a dressing, or with veggies!

When I think about beans, I’m always reminded of the song “beans, beans the musical fruit…” that my brothers and I used to sing at the dinner table as our parents shook their heads as their attempts to refine their children crumpled before their eyes!  Despite beans’ ability to create music, I’ve always had a great opinion about beans…until I participated in a Paleo Diet challenge a couple of years back and to my surprise and dismay, beans were prohibited completely!

The Paleo Diet got me interested in discovering WHY would these Paleo Diet folks deem beans unhealthy enough to exclude from their program?

Beans are such a great source of protein, and for my vegetarian friends, are used as a major staple in their diets.  However, turns out that beans are very high in phytates.  So?  What are those?  Well, phytates block our body from absorbing essential minerals.  So, if we eat a ton of beans, the nutrients we feed ourselves from other whole foods may be for naught.  In addition to phytates, beans are prone to the development of fungus, and it’s no surprise that beans wreak havoc on our digestive system, potentially making it inefficient and clunky.

It’s for these reasons – phytates, fungus and digestive system – that I recommend limiting your intake of beans.  If you’re a vegetarian, there are other sources of protein – eggs, nuts, seeds, protein powder, and even veggies have protein in them!  Most importantly, we should observe our bodies to notice if beans seem to upset our body’s optimal function.  Keep in mind that food is meant to nourish our body, so the more we pay attention to what we eat and how it makes us feel, the more we will learn!

I’ve often scratched my head over which type of oil, or fat, is best to cook, bake or use in salads.  Thanks to Tiffany Cruikshank, my confusion has been de-mystified – my general rule of thumb for cooking and baking is to use a fat that is high in saturated fats, least processed, (which would be unrefined,) and organic.

Here is what I’ve learned…

In general, all fats are healthy when they come from whole foods, or natural and unprocessed foods.  (A whole, natural and unprocessed food high in fat would be an avocado or having a handful of nuts or seeds for example.)  The trouble is, fats are very sensitive and can easily become damaged by heat, sunlight, and oxygen.

In order to make fat into something that is used for cooking, it is processed.  Depending on how it is processed, (typically by heat and chemicals,) and the type of fat being processed, the once healthy fat may become oxidized or hydrogenated, which converts the fat molecules into trans fats.  (Trans fats mimic natural fats, but are unnatural to our bodies, and therefore can increase our chance of developing heart disease, raising cholesterol, degenerative diseases, inflammation, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, liver dysfunction and infertility just to name a few.)

So which fats fare best in processing?

Saturated Fats are the most stable.  Examples are – animal fat, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, butter, and ghee.  Saturated fats also have a slew of health benefits, (when used in moderation.)  Coconut oil has been shown to be antifungal, antiviral and antiprotozoal.  It’s also high in folic acid, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Unsaturated Fats are more susceptible to oxidation or hydrogenation, (turning in to trans fats,) when exposed to heat, light or oxygen than saturated fats.  Unsaturated fats are found in animal fat, vegetable oil, and avocado.

Monounsaturated Fats include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, and peanut oil, (this is also the fat in your almonds and pecans.)  They are less stable than saturated and unsaturated fats, but more stable than polyunsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated Fats are your fatty acids like fish oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.  Polyunsaturated fats are the least stable of all the fats because they easily oxidize, creating toxins in the body if ingested after it is oxidized.  However, these fats, at their purest, are highly beneficial.  This is why it’s important to store these items in the refrigerator, and not use them when they’re past their use by date.  You can usually taste when they’ve started to turn.

Cut to the Chase, which fats should I use?

If you read the above, you’ve probably guessed what I’m going to say next.

– Cook with saturated fats – coconut oil, butter or ghee.

– For your salads, use an oil that is organic, in a dark bottle, not labeled with “partially hydrogenated” (this just extends the shelf life…but makes the fat weak and more susceptible to trans fatty acids,) and use any oil that says “no trans fats” in the nutrition chart.  Olive Oil is usually your best bet, and most easily available.

– Lastly, always avoid using already hydrogenated oils such as margarine and vegetable shortening, or any product with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!  I’d love to hear from you.

We all have a pretty good sense that sugar is “bad” for us, but other than the added calories, why is it “bad?”  And what is defined as “bad” sugar?  According to Tiffany Cruikshank in her book Optimal Health for a Vibrant Life, “sugar is just as habit forming as any narcotic; and its use and abuse is one of our nation’s top disasters.”  She goes on to explain that the chemical formula of Sugar and Cocaine vary by only ONE letter!

So, what is sugar, really?  Is there good sugar?

Sugar is sugar, whether it comes from fruit glucose or fruit cake or honey or corn, once it’s in your body, it is processed the same.  The difference is, sugar found in fruit is accompanied by fiberous matter (the skin and body of the fruit,) and phytonutrients present in the whole food.  The fiberous matter work synergestically together to allow the sugar glucose to slowly process through the body, (which reduces the chance of an insulin spike and feelings of highs and lows.)  On the other hand, simple sugar, such as the white refined sugar in your fruit cake, cheese cake, muffin, or mocha latte, is not accompanied by fiberous whole food phytonutrients so the body must borrow calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium from various parts of the body to process the sugar.  Accompanied by this, the pancreas kicks on to release quite a bit of insulin to help take care of the sugar.  Insulin makes us feel anxious, happy, and fast, once the sugar is taken care of, the pancreas turns the insulin levels down and we feel sluggish, tired and slow…and so we grab for more caffeine and/or sugar, and on and on it goes!  The body is an amazing machine, but by eating too much sugar, we trip its ability to function optimally.

The truth is, too much glucose sugar can overload the body just as simple sugar does, so listening to your body is important.  If you’re feeling a sugar high from eating fruit, you may have eaten something that is too sweet for you, or you may have eaten too much of it!  Recent research has found that curbing the sugar craze is more critical than just trying to shed a few pounds, eating less sugar might just change and extend your life.

25 Reases Why Sugar May Ruin Your Day

(there are more, but here are 25 to start…)

1) suppresses your immune system

2) interferes with the essential nutrient balance in your body, specifically calcium and magnesium

3) Increases levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides

4) Shown to be connected to the development of various types of cancer – breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder, and stomach.

5) Can cause hypoglycemia

6) leads to alcoholism

7) Contributes to weight gain (as insulin levels rise, body stores fat.)

8) Causes autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis

9) Greatly increases the growth of Candida Albicans (yeast)

10) Causes vericose veins

11) Causes drowsiness and decreased activity

12) makes your skin age by changing the structure of collagen

13) Increases the size of the kidney, which can ultimately cause kidney stones

14) Increases the size of the liver, increasing the amount of liver fat

15) Makes your tendons brittle

16) Causes depression

17) Causes food allergies

18) Interferes with the absorption of protein

19) Increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease

20) Causes hormonal imbalances – increases estrogen in men, increasing PMS symptoms, decreases growth hormones

21) Promotes excessive food intake

22) Damage your pancreas

23) Cause gum disease

24) Addictive substance

25) Causes headaches, including migrains