It’s only about 3 months until Memorial Day, the first unofficial day of summer. Have you let your New Year’s Resolutions slip away? There’s no time like the present to get back on board! Every few months I like to take stock of my life and look for ways to improve or grow. We are constantly evolving.
Take advantage of these spring-like temperatures, and get outside and go for a walk, take a hike, or do anything else outdoors that brings you joy! And if you'd like to join our walking group on Thursdays at 4:00, please email me and I will add you to our list.
Dr. Cigno and I wanted to share this wonderful series from Dr. Mark Hyman: “The Broken Brain”. Dr. Hyman explains about recovering from a “broken brain”, and how “It all starts with recognizing that our body is an elegantly designed and connected system, not just a bunch of individual parts that have nothing to do with each other.”
He also adds that “The key insight is that your brain is an organ that’s connected to everything else happening in your body. Fixing your brain starts with fixing your body”.
He states that: “Many of us get too little good food, nutrients, light, air, water, rest, sleep, rhythm, exercise, community, love, meaning, and purpose. We’re exposed to far too much poor-quality food, stress, toxins and allergens. All of this creates the perfect storm for health havoc.” He explains that “we can apply specific strategies to heal from brain disorders. You don’t have to settle with these symptoms forever. Recovery is possible.”
Listed below are the YouTube links to the Broken Brain video series by Dr. Mark Hyman. Please watch them when you have a moment:
I know I’ve mentioned this app before, but it is definitely worth repeating: My Fitness Pal. It is a GREAT resource for tracking your food intake and your exercise. Not only is it useful for keeping track of calories in and calories out, but it also gives a great breakdown of the nutrients in your food, so you can more accurately assess your diet. And it’s a free app. Win, win.
At the cooking presentation last month, I presented on quick, healthy, and easy recipes, which were plant-based and full of protein and fiber. I explained about the benefits of a high fiber diet:
And I chose to use frozen, organic fruits and vegetables to emphasize the ease and health benefits of them. Not only are frozen vegetables already cleaned, cut and ready to cook, they are just as healthy as fresh fruits and vegetables. They are flash frozen just after harvest, which locks in all the nutrients. They are also easy because you can keep them on hand for nights when you are short on time to get to the grocery store.
I choose organic for most of my fruits and vegetables, but especially for EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. They update the list every year:
And now for some recipes to help you get stronger, eat better, live healthier, and be the best version of you!
Healthy muffins that come together quickly, and can be eaten on the run. These freeze wonderfully too, so they are a great addition to add to your meal prep for the week.
This is a weekly staple in our house, I just change up the grain and vegetables to what I have on hand. Use whatever vegetables your family enjoys the most. Play around with colors and textures too! If you don’t like quinoa, whole grain pasta, brown rice, or a wild rice blend can be used.
These are so delicious, and so easy to make! These are great for dinner topped with avocado, or great to bring for lunch over a salad. YUM!
This is an absolute family favorite! It makes a great big portion, which makes for healthy leftovers for the week. If you’re not into leftovers, freeze in single portions to use later.
This salad looks AMAZING. I will be trying this very soon.
“Let our lives be full of both Thanks and Giving.”
With the holidays right around the corner, let us remember to take the time to reflect, and give thanks. When life gets hectic, and time starts to rush by, it is easy to get caught up in the flow of things, without slowing down long enough to enjoy the little moments.
Not only at Thanksgiving, but all year round. There is always something to be thankful for. This is a wonderful time to remind ourselves to live more in the present, and cherish every special moment.
November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month
Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease.
But there are ways to protect the brain as we age. According to The Alzheimer's Association, there are 10 ways to love your brain:
Break a sweat
Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
Hit the books
Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Follow your heart
Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke — obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes — negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
Fuel up right
Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
Catch some Zzz's
Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
Take care of your mental health
Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community — if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.
Regular aerobic exercise could be a fountain of youth for the brain.
Dr. Lauren Baker
In a study led by Lauren Baker, it showed that “vigorous exercise not only makes Alzheimer’s patients feel better, but it makes changes in the brain that could indicate improvements”.
“These findings are important because they strongly suggest a potent lifestyle intervention such as aerobic exercise can impact Alzheimer's-related changes in the brain. No currently approved medication can rival these effects,” Baker said in a statement.
But what is the difference between moderate and vigorous? And what does regular exercise mean?
According to the CDC, moderate exercise means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. You'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.
At a vigorous intensity, you'll be breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate will be up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Most experts consider vigorous exercise at 70-80 percent of maximum heart rate for at least half of each session.
Regular exercise equates to either:
Perform any of the above, PLUS 2 additional days of strength training.
And 10 minutes of activity broken up throughout the day works just as well. So no excuses to not fit it in!
Please follow these links for additional articles, information, and warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Healthy eating is equally as important as regular exercise. I’ve listed below some healthy Mediterranean Diet approved recipes. Most of which would be delicious at the Thanksgiving table!
Delicious! Most of the prep work can be done the day before.
This takes a bit of prep work, but most of it can be done ahead of time. Beautiful dish!
Nothing better than another dish with make-ahead options. This way you can save Thanksgiving Day for relaxing with family and friends!
One of our favorites. SO good.
This is a family favorite. I add 2 cups of broccoli florets to up the vegetable ante. I bet this would be good with leftover shredded turkey!
These are the perfect solution for typically unhealthy apple cider donuts. Baked, not fried, these can even be made gluten free by using gluten free oat flour. Can be made as muffins if you don’t have a donut pan. It will make 8 muffins. SO delicious!
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Fall! It always amazes me how quickly the summer goes. And although I’m sad to see summer come to an end, I welcome autumn with open arms. Crisp air, colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, warm fires, hot tea… the list could go on and on.
To me, the fall is always an ideal time for goal setting and getting back into a routine. Summer is fun, but sometimes too much fun. Somehow, (BBQ’s, vacations, enjoying a glass of rosé on the patio…) I always seem to get a bit off track. Who says resolutions are just for The New Year??? We are constant works of progress.
So I thought I'd share some of my goals, plus others that might be helpful ideas.
Autumn goal ideas for inspiration:
Establish an exercise routine/Join a gym/Try a new fitness class
Try one new recipe every week
Go out for a walk to photograph the leaves
Start a compost bin
Jump in the leaves
Carve a pumpkin
Go apple picking
So join me in my October Challenge! NO ADDED SUGAR for two weeks. You can do anything for two weeks. This means checking every single label. Salad dressings, mustard, tomato sauce, yogurt, cereal, even your peanut butter.
The list of added sugars is pretty exhaustive. This is a brief list of words to look for: Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar...
This is a link for a more complete listing. Pretty unreal how tricky they make it to read the label!
Join me! Monday, October 2nd through Sunday, October 15th. Let me know if you do the challenge!!
And to help with the one new recipe per week goal, some of my favorites to get you started!
So delicious, AND easy to make. Definitely one of my favorite veggie burgers.
This is one that will satisfy meat-eaters too!
LOVE this pot pie. A little bit of a splurge with the puff pastry...but totally worth it. And it makes for such a pretty presentation! Switch the vegetables if there is something you don’t like (spinach or Swiss chard for the kale, etc.)
YUM! Who doesn’t love a one-pot meal?
Fewer dishes to wash!
What a great weeknight meal to throw together.
And all on one sheet pan! Use whatever vegetables you have on hand.
Be sure to check out the video on the website.
And you can’t go wrong with this healthy dessert.
So healthy you could actually have it for breakfast!
“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” -Norman Vincent Peale
The other morning I was standing in the kitchen procrastinating out loud about going out for my run. It was drizzling outside, I was tired, etc., etc., excuses, excuses. My husband very kindly said to me: “you’ll feel better if you go”. All it took was that gentle little nudge from one of the most important positive influencers in my life, and I had a great workout, and I felt great after.
That was my Choice Point. I was standing at a crossroads, and I was waiting for something or someone to sway me in one direction or the other.
We all have Choice Points every single day. Some are small: “Should I put butter or avocado on my toast?” And some are more significant: “Should I go back to school? Should I switch careers?”
"Will is a different beast than should. It is, at best, the direct response to our experience of being centered. Awareness is our in-breath, taking in our world. Will is our out-breath, acting upon and in our world. It is not wish, want, hope, try, maybe, should, kinda, soon, have to. It is the act that moves us from purpose and meaning through deliberation into choice and action. And right in the middle, between purpose and action is the Choice Point. There is always a fraction of a second, or a minute or days and years, when we are poised at the edge of a decision."
- Dorothy Firman, Ed.D., Psychology Today
What hit me that morning while I was out for my run, is how important it is to be a positive influence on others, as well as how important it is to surround yourself with positive people who bring out the best in you.
Inspire someone to do something healthy for themselves. Workout with a buddy. Start a family Fitbit challenge. Start a friends or family healthy recipe challenge (who can make something healthy, but taste the best?!). The list could go on and on!
This is a great link with tons of free exercise videos for ALL different levels. Everything from a ten minute arm video, to a 30 minute pool exercise video. Perfect to pull up on a computer at home, or to take with you on vacation!
And I will gladly start out the healthy but tasty recipe challenge. Read on for some great summer recipes!
White Bean Hummus
This is such a great staple to have in your collection. Switch up the herbs to whatever you have on hand.
Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad with Avocado
Perfect for lunch or dinner, and great served warm or cold.
Veggie Collard Wrap
This is a great low-carb option, and it’s beautiful! Fill these with whatever you like (hummus, chicken salad, etc.). This website has a great step-by-step walk through of wrapping with collards.
Thai Chicken Salad
Delicious! To reduce sodium, eliminate the fish sauce. I mixed in quinoa and topped with avocado to make a complete dinner. Would even be good stuffed in a taco. Everything’s good in a taco!
Shrimp Tacos with Mango Slaw
Speaking of taco’s…I made these last weekend and they were a huge hit. The tacos and the slaw were so easy to make, and perfectly refreshing on a summer night.
Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt
And one more bean dessert to share. Trust me, these are delicious. They come out a little like fudge. Try them.
HELLO spring weather!! It’s amazing what a little warm weather and sunshine does for the soul. If we get any more cold weather, I’ll fully take the blame, seeing that I just finished putting all of my winter gear and cold weather clothes in the attic…
Spring cleaning isn’t only for cleaning your house though, it’s a good opportunity to clean out the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator, and revamp your exercise routine. Goodbye treadmill and skis, hello outdoor walks, runs, bike rides, swims and more!
To help you get started in the exercise department, these are some great programs to experiment with:
Try this Pool workout, great for building muscle and improving cardiovascular health…and you’ll stay cool too!
Get ready to bare your arms with this Arm workout for beginners.
For all over strength training, this 30 Minute strength training with beginner modifications,
Or this one geared towards men: Beginner workout program from Men's Fitness.
Not into exercise videos? Take a walk on your lunch break. Shoot some basketball hoops with your kids. Go for a hike with your friend. Plan a date on the tennis courts. Or join me for the Run Like a Mother 5k on Mother's day.
The sky is the limit!
Exercise should be FUN! Finding what makes you happy is the key to long-term success.
And of course there is MEDITATION. If you are looking for some inspiration, check out Unplug, A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers by Suze Yalof Schwartz.
She offers the perfect balance of humor and realistic tips and techniques. I especially love her “Starbucks Meditation”:
"Try this the next time you’re in the coffee line: As you’re waiting to order, focus on your feet. Put all your attention on how they connect to the ground. Slowly take a step with your right foot. Land with your heel, then roll onto the ball of your foot. Slowly take a step with your left foot the same way. Notice how your weight shifts and your body and knees propel you forward. When you order, look into the eyes of your barista and smile. She’s going to smile back- that’s a connection! Then, after you pay, walk mindfully to the waiting area. While you wait, stand and connect with your breath. DON’T REACH FOR YOUR PHONE. Bring yourself back to the present, letting other thoughts go. When your drink is ready, pause and really feel the heat or chill of it in your hands. Breathe in the scent. Sip it, savoring the taste.
That’s it! You meditated!!"
On another note…We all know how important it is to stay hydrated. Especially once you start increasing exercise, but it’s not quite so hot yet that you might not realize you’re dehydrated… But are you getting bored with plain old water? Before you reach for that sugar filled beverage, try infusing your water with one of these combinations by Miranda Hammer at The Crunchy Radish. Fill a pitcher and leave it in your fridge or on your counter for easy grab-and-go (it will look pretty too!!):
Tiki Sunrise: Grapefruit, lemon and rosemary
Berry Splash: Blueberries and basil
Gingerade: Lemon, lime and ginger
Spa Tonic: Lavender and lemon
Green Goodness: Cucumber, mint and lime
And then of course there’s the clean eating! Some new favorite recipes to add to your collection:
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Cups, from Call me PMC (Gluten free)
These have become a favorite grab-and-go breakfast, or healthy afternoon snack. There is absolutely no guilt. And they couldn’t be easier to make!
Moroccan Vegetable Ragout, from Fine Cooking
A new dinner favorite in my house. Easy to make, and delicious. I serve it over whole wheat couscous with shaved almonds.
Summer Vegetable Skillet Quinoa, from Making Thyme for Health (Vegan, Gluten free)
You know I love my quinoa bowls! These never get old. Play around with the ingredients and use whatever fresh produce you have on hand.
Mushroom Barley Lentil Soup, from Hummusapien (Vegan)
I know it’s getting warm, but this soup is so delicious you won’t mind eating soup on a warm day. Perfect for lunch or a light dinner with a salad. AND it’s a breeze to make. It can be made either in a crock-pot or on the stove top.
Black Bean Brownies, from Chocolate Covered Katie (Vegan, Gluten free)
YES, you read that right. There are beans in these brownies…and you would never know! I was a complete skeptic at first. I first heard about this idea a year ago, and it took one of our members bringing in some of her fresh baked brownies for me to try them. I’m HOOKED, and I’ve hooked my whole family! Trust me, give them a try. I omit the sugar and use ½ cup maple syrup, and I used old-fashioned rolled oats. They come out AMAZING every time.
And, well, this is just to end on a funny note!