Nope, it’s not about the flightless bird or New Zealanders today – we are all about this tiny, overlooked fruit in grocery store that has so much to offer you. What are its nutritional credentials exactly? Well, here’s a start:
It has about twice the vitamin C of oranges, per serving
Constipated? There’s more to help than prunes and psyllium – kiwi contains fiber and an enzyme that maybe help move things along, if you get our drift
Folate – this B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects in pregnancies but is also important for building red blood cells and reducing homocysteine levels
Antioxidants to help neutralize free radical damage
A common question is whether one can eat the skin or not. Yes, you can eat the skin. It’s fuzzy and can kind of tickle the mouth a bit, but it has fiber and the skin doesn’t have much of a taste on its own. In terms of the fruit, the texture is similar to that of a banana but with crunchy seeds in the middle (similar to chia seeds). We think these elements come together to create an interesting and sweet snack.
How to eat kiwis:
The easiest way is to slice it up and enjoy it on its own.
While the song is about grief, and we don’t desire to hurry this month along, it makes us think about how most of us struggle with getting enough sleep. So, today we are going to get serious about sleeping better, all together, in September.
Kids are back in school, and, for most of us, the summer activities are dwindling down. The sun is setting a bit earlier and now is one of the best times for us to follow the natural rhythm of the season by getting to bed a wee bit earlier.
The problem is, even if we know we should prioritize sleep, there are a couple tricky things that get in the way. Here are some common issues and ideas to help thwart them:
1.The ‘Gremlin’ or ‘Inner Child’. This one got us good over the past weekend. It was date night and Netflix paraded a German post-war mystery/thriller show in front of us. Why not give it a try? Turns out that it was a series and, as our normal bedtime rolled around, the Inner Child trickster was all ready to protest “but I don’t wanna go to bed! I want to see what happens AND I’m learning/practicing my German AND tomorrow is Sunday so I can sleep in…” on and on, the rationalizations went. Long story short, staying up until 3am not only messed up our sleep but the tired, slow, foggy thinking and lack of motivation to do anything the next day led to more of the same on behavior on Sunday night. Thank goodness we got back on track on Monday. How to solve this: the first step involves awareness that the voice in your head is one of your inner child or gremlin. How will you be able to tell? Well, generally the thoughts you’ll have are about very short-term, false pleasure and how you “deserve” to do, or eat something. There’s a ton of rationalizing and usually done in a way that fools you into thinking the bad choice is a benefit (i.e. “I’m learning German with this show!”). The inner child doesn’t care about tomorrow’s hangover – it’s all about getting the candy, staying up late, partying and playing NOW – without evaluating potential consequences. Whether it’s with sleep, food choice, or something else, evaluate where the gremlin or inner child tends to pop up for you.
2. Rely less on Willpower and more upon Routines. The former you can only do for a certain amount of time until it either becomes a habit or falls apart. Routines can help create easy, automatic behaviors – just like brushing one’s teeth doesn’t require as much will to execute as it is just following part of the morning or evening ritual. When we turn off our devices at 11:30pm and expect good, deep sleep we are skipping the transition time our brains and bodies need to make before going to sleep. By creating an effective bedtime routine, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re moving into restorative, restful sleep time and you’ll likely see an improvement in both quality and quantity of sleep. Stay tuned for our bedtime routine in a future blog.
3. Don’t “Should” yourself – be Realistic. You might have ideals of going to sleep at 9pm and getting up to be a productive, early bird at 5 or 6am; however, it’s important to be realistic about your evening activities and how late they run (this is why our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise didn’t work out so well). If you’ve been a night owl for most of your life, part of it could be genetics or your particular cronotype (and is unlikely to change), oryou’re going to need to set up some small improvements first (e.g. going to bed at 12:45am instead of 1am). When you put the kids down for bed, do the hours afterward get stretched out as you enjoy some much-needed alone or self-care time? Don’t give up your me-time; adjust the dial a bit and consider watching one or two episodes of your favorite show instead of four before bed. You don’t have to sleep when your kids do, but if you stay up too late, no one will be happy the next morning.
4. Track your Progress and Celebrate your Wins. Remember how the teacher would give you a gold star for reading a book and after 20 stars you got a reward? We can do the same thing for ourselves by tracking and celebrating our own progress. One of the best tools we use, and share with clients, is our Habit Tracker. With a simple sticker or “x” you can see how many days out of the month you had enough water or sleep, got in some exercise or meditation practice. Consider tracking ONLY sleep for this month, in order to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a simple prompt “in bed before 11pm” is a place to start tracking your success this month. Celebrate as you see the row of stickers or “x” marks build and reflect to see how the habit has served you (e.g. more energy, etc) well. This will help reinforce the change you’re making.
Let’s create a movement to reclaim our rest as we all sleep better, together, in September.
…well not quite in trouble, but recently the feeling of burnout has been trailing behind us, like a blazing fire following a gasoline leak. The steady, hazardous drip came from an embedded, almost subconscious thought: “I love my work, I don’t need a vacation.” While the former is true, the latter part of that statement is definitely false. It wasn’t until recently that we realized our last vacation was 13 months ago. With little more than an occasional half-day off in over a year, the reason behind our exhaustion came into focus. Without sustained and intentional time off, we were burning the candle at both ends; everything was becoming too much effort and yet we pushed forward anyway.
Perhaps you’ve felt it too, the sneaky symptoms of burnout include:
— Falling asleep quickly only to wake up in the middle of the night
— Less healthy, natural color in face
— Relying on quick-energy food options to get through the day
— A tired-but-wired feeling, never being able to fully relax
— Lack of a desire to connect with friends
— Feeling like you’ve been “run over by a truck”
— No energy, tired all the time, fatigued
— Waking up exhausted, not well-rested
The common responses of “busy,” “tired”, and “stressed” when asked how you’re doing is the zeitgeist of our current time. It’s the consequence of our sleep-deprived, 5-hour energy lives. For productivity, it’s pump-or-pill-yourself-up, and at the end of the day we ‘wine’ down and scroll through or watch screens.
You may feel like you can handle the frantic pace and multitasking of life for awhile – maybe you claim to thrive when life is too busy. However, eventually, everyone pays the piper. The stress we don’t even know we’re under starts to accumulate and we, our minds and our bodies, are unable to cope with it.
Why am I Exhausted?
First things first. Get evaluated by a healthcare professional and lab work to rule out underlying conditions such as anemia, thyroid disease, depression, allergies, side effects of certain medications, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Second, as with most things in life, this problem is a matter of balance between supply and demand. There are times when work gets hectic or short-term caregiving can cause exhaustion and there are other times when, despite our busy lives, we feel energized and ready to take on life. At a basic level, when our lives have more demands, we tend to feel tired. If this is short-term, we typically have energy in the bank to help us through. Common examples include pulling an all-nighter to tend to a sick child or a work project, or even running a half-marathon. The problem is when the demands don’t let up and others pile on. The scale then tips very unfavorably and we deplete our reserves, our emergency energy, and we become exhausted. It’s critical here to point out that there is a difference between being ‘tired’ (which can typically be remedied by a good night’s sleep) and ‘fatigue’ (which tends to be a longer-standing state not easily remedied by a massage or a day off).
Fatigue is a wonderful teacher. While she might initially make you slow down, it’s only to give you the opportunity to examine your life, learn more about yourself and what’s truly important to you. She certainly taught us a thing or two these past few weeks – namely getting back to the basics, examining our thoughts, and using the tools we have in our toolbox.
As one example, we will often use a life inventory tool as we work with clients to help bring awareness to certain areas of life in need of support. We explore your relationship with food and physical movement as well as your mind functioning and stress, self-care, and spirit.
We help you plug your energy drains and naturally increase your personal energy level so that you can meet the demands of the day.
Along with this is personalized support, mindset adjustments, setting boundaries, learning to delegate and stop people-pleasing, and building up natural energy stores with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes. Our goal is that your sense of wellbeing is good most of the time so that you have a higher quality of life. If this sounds like natural energy restoration you are looking for, schedule a complimentary call and we’ll get started.
Patient and client conversations can be a rich source of writing inspiration to address common concerns. As we discuss new changes, cravings, accomplishments and challenges, ideas start to percolate as we work together to find the best solution for the individual. If the same issue is mentioned by different individuals more than three times in relatively short succession, we can almost *feel* the universe tapping on our shoulder.
The latest recurrent theme among us all seems to be regarding emotional eating, over-eating, and reward-eating.
Let’s break this last one down. Why would we associate certain foods with a reward?
With thousands of years of evolution working for (or against) us, humans naturally crave sweet flavor. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would get a little *ping* of dopamine by eating berries and other naturally sweet substances. The brain would reward eating this food, which some argue helped our ancestors survive by promoting fat storage to see them through the leaner times. This survival mechanism is all but unnecessary during the times in which we live, with plentiful food stores and sedentary lifestyles (when was the last time we burnt 2000+ calories a day hunting down buffalo?).
An ostensible lack of other options or ideas for rewarding ourselves. We’ve leaned on food to give ourselves a pat on the back after a hard day in the office, for finishing a big project, or to relax after a full day with the kids finally in bed. After many years of this, we may have forgotten how to celebrate our accomplishments without cake, doughnuts, french fries, or chips.
After the sleeve of cookies is finished, there can be a poignant anxiety that settles in. Guilt and shame follow soon after and we feel terrible about ourselves. Then we say “what the Hades, I’m probably never going to lose the weight anyway” and keep going or we decide with firmness and determination, “starting tomorrow, no cookies ever again!” However, we all know how this plays out; the deprivation leads to cravings and the whole cycle begins anew.
When you eat, try eating to nourish your body and experience pleasure. Tying food to your reward-system will unravel advances in your health goals and, here’s the kicker, it doesn’t even work. By the time we are done with the chocolate chip cookie party, we only temporarily feel sated before we either look for more sugar (during the ‘down’ of our blood sugar rollercoaster) or we feel guilty…..which drowns out what ephemeral feeling of pleasure we got from the food in the first place.
By having some non-food rewards instead, or at least sprinkling them into your current routine, you can start to challenge the ‘need’ for something sweet and, instead, ‘treat’ yourself ‘sweetly’ (double puns, couldn’t resist :D). Here are a few ideas to get your started on non-food rewards:
Herbs and spices have been used since antiquity and are time-tested natural remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases, including viral infections. There are therapeutically active constituents of these plants which exhibit anti-viral action and protection.
Sometimes science takes awhile to catch up with proving the healing benefits of plants. A simple example here is that cranberry juice helping urinary tract infections was considered an “old wives tale” until scientific research a couple decades ago found it to be true – cranberries have a property that prevents the adhesion of pathogens (e.g. E. coli) to the bladder wall.
Because of lack of interest in funding research on non-patentable compounds, be aware that the research on benefits of some herbs may be scant and have limited human research. On the other side, many of these herbs and spices have been studied for a few millenia (far longer that most pharmaceuticals) so…
Do your due diligence. Research and consult with your healthcare provider as certain health conditions and potential drug-interactions need to be evaluated. And now, without further ado…
Garlic has a special place in our hearts. Ever since we were broke college students, we have relished the power, ubiquity and inexpensive nature of this plant. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties (to say nothing of its ability to ward off vampires). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic a common ingredient and easy addition to a variety of dishes. For about a cost of only fifty cents per bulb, it’s a worthy purchase.
The plant family ‘elder’ is also known as sambucus. Native American tribes and even ancient Egyptians used this plant to treat infections and heal the skin. Today these elderberries are most often found available in the form of syrups and lozenges and are used to ameliorate cold and flu symptoms. A mouse study published on PubMed found that concentrated elderberry juice exhibited a “beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection” while in a review of human studies, “supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms [emphasis added].” Is anyone else Team Elderberry right now?
Zingiber officinale, also known as ginger, is found in its whole form and in products such as teas, lozenges, and tinctures. Being helpful to pregnant women experiencing nausea is just one of ginger’s impressive resume qualifications. Its potent plant compounds, including gingerols and zingerone, contribute to ginger’s impressive antiviral activity. If ginger were a person, we wouldn’t let this coronavirus-related recession stop us from hiring him/her as an essential employee of our anti-viral unit.
Whether you love or hate the taste, licorice has some tools to help keep you safe from viral infection. Used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and elsewhere for hundreds of years, licorice root contains active antiviral compounds called glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin (say those three times fast, geez). In vitro (test-tube) studies show licorice root’s effectiveness against herpes virus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and, wait for it……..SARS-associated coronavirus infection.
Very popular in herbal medicine, Echinacea is one of the best all-around plants because of its extensive healing properties. The entirety of the plant is used – roots, leaves, flowers- in a variety of natural remedy preparations. It’s also a beautiful, purple plant that you may see roadside or in a metro park. Another trusted and time-tested plant used by Native Americans, it has been used to allay a number of conditions, including viral infections, and is immune-modulating. Several in-vitro studies found that a variety of types of echinacea plants (including E. pallida, E. angustifolia, and E. purpurea) effectively knock-out herpes and influenza viral infections.
Remember, these foods and herbs can only really work their ‘magic’ within the context of a body otherwise supported by good nutrition. A diet high in added sugars, mucous-producing foods, and low in vitamins and minerals won’t help your immune system power-up and effectively take on coronavirus or any other infections.
Behind every client success story is a normal person who has been frustrated with some aspect of their health or body. They start out worrying that “it won’t work for me” but they also have hope and, as we work together, they trust the process and themselves more. It’s a beautiful thing to witness over the course of months or years. Here is part of Lauren’s experience.
“The only hesitation I had was that working with you would actually make me accountable, which was obviously a good thing, but I knew it would force me to really be honest with myself.
I have lost weight and inches, but also have a better understanding of how my body works and what to eat to fuel my body in the best way for me. I have alternatives to snacking and really have a better picture of how I want my future to look.
I really liked that you were realistic. You didn’t tell me to never eat sweets again, but to find better alternatives or ways to resist the urges. Our sessions almost felt like counseling sessions, which I really enjoyed. You also made me see that I have a lot going on in my life right now so any step in the right direction is progress and that I should celebrate all accomplishments, no matter how small.
Our sessions definitely helped me keep on track. I didn’t want to “screw up” too bad and then have to tell you about it! Lol!
I would recommend your services to anyone who is looking to make lifestyle changes, not just dietary. You get out what you put in. The more open the client is, the better their time with you will be. I truly enjoyed every session and feel as though I have a great foundation to continue making changes. ” – Lauren Griffin, Columbus, Ohio
You know the people in your life who have a lightness of being about them, even when they are going through tough challenges? Lauren is one of those people. She’s upbeat and positive, even when life has thrown a few curveballs.
She’s cleaned up her diet and, with the help of the MRT test and LEAP protocol, has identified foods that serve her better than others. She’s reported much less craving for sugar and more control over it. Other results: more energy, physical activity, life balance, and building in more self-care. She also mentioned losing 15lbs and feels leaner, her clothes fit better, and there’s generally less bloating.
It has been an honor to help guide Lauren through these changes and to see the results she has achieved – her life has truly transformed since early 2019.
We’ve tested it thrice so far with the crowds at Thanksgiving, a holiday party, and recent Friendsgiving with rave reviews. Here we share the zingy, tongue-tingling Lemony Kale & Almond Salad! May it serve you and yours well during holiday celebrations, potlucks, a light dinner, and even just for a mid-day snack. The dressing’s simple ingredients become something greater when combined, like when the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers connected their rings. Also, *voice lowers* it’s gluten-free and vegan…not like anyone will hold it against you :).
Yields: about 12-15 servings
Prep time: about 25-30 minutes
1 lb kale (we’ve used a clamshell of baby kale)
2 cups almonds, chopped
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
Optional: pepper to taste
Let garlic steep in olive oil. Toast almonds in pan until golden brown, then set aside to cool. During garlic-steeping and toasting of almonds, cut small batches of kale into thin strips and place into a very large bowl (with lid, for transport to holiday gathering). In a separate bowl, put dressing together by adding lemon juice, salt, and garlic-steeped olive oil. If you don’t want garlic in the end-product, remove crushed garlic from oil and discard. If you are a garlic-lover, use the finely chopped garlic, without sieving, in the dressing. Combine almonds and dressing into larger bowl with kale and toss with tongs. For best results, serve within about 1 hour. Note: the more oil used, the heavier the kale leaves will be and it will reduce volume of salad within the bowl.
The term “sardine” has been in use for over 500 years and is thought to have come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Italy where sardines were found in abundance. around which sardines were once abundant. Like most fish, which can be enjoyed fresh, sardines are perishable; this why they are commonly found canned.
Need some other reason to consider eating these little fish? How about good ole nutrition? Because sardines are a nutrient powerhouse, they can help keep the body healthy and prevent diseases.
Let’s talk vitamins; these fish are a great source of vitamin B-12, which helps improve energy and the functioning of the cardiovascular system. They also contain vitamin D which is important for bone health and mood. Niacin assists in regulating ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol as well as boosting brain health.
In terms of minerals, sardines are an excellent source of calcium (good for those who are allergic or sensitive to dairy, or who are lactose intolerant), iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Protein content – just once ounce of sardines contains 7 grams of protein.
Sardines are a source of healthy fats. These omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent cardiovascular disease. These beneficial fats can also lower blood pressure and reduce risk of blood clots.
Ready to shop? Choose canned sardines packed in water or olive oil; remember to check expiration dates. If buying fresh, the sardines should be firm, with bright eyes and shiny skin. They shouldn’t smell too fishy.
How to Incorporate Sardines in your Diet
Rinse canned sardines under cold water; gut and rinse fresh sardines. Now you’re ready to go!
Like most protein sources, sardines are a very versatile food and can be easily added to salads (like our Mediterranean salad), eaten with mustard and crackers, rolled in grape leaves to make a wrap, or made into a main dish, such as a curry.
Image source: found on Pinterest and Facebook, artist/origin unknown
Despite what Facebook and Instagram would have you believe, Mother’s Day is not all balloons, flowers, cards, love and chocolates. For many, the hangover following this holiday is in full effect. Around Mother’s Day, there can be difficult conversations and experiences that are often not acknowledged.
This graphic is the perfect illustration for some of the feelings experienced by those who didn’t have the societally-normalized Mother’s Day.
Starting from the top left – mothers who have lost children. How difficult this day is for those who lost a child or children. Perhaps it was a child they never met alive, one who was miscarried or stillborn. Or a child who died after spending a few years on earth. It can be very challenging to celebrate your special day when the child who made you a mother is no longer here….or never came to be.
Those who have lost their mothers have Mother’s Day as a reminder of how much they may miss them. It’s not an easy day celebrating the memory of your mother without being able to hug or talk to her anymore.
Have a strained relationship with your mother? A mother’s day Facebook feed of people who call their moms their best friends could be difficult to see when you and your mother have historically butted heads or not seen eye-to-eye. You may wish it were different and that you too could fully celebrate your relationship with your mother. Vice versa, maybe you’re a mom who has not been able to fully connect with your own son or daughter in a way you had always hoped. This day can be a reminder of that disappointment.
It’s not a popular decision but there are women (and men) who chose not to have children. Incomprehensible though it may be to some in society, it’s still a valid, though often not validated, choice. These people, women in particular – who choose not to have kids- have their own battles. Their decisions are questioned by others, especially around Mother’s Day.
On the other side of that same coin are women who are desperate to have children. They’ve been through painful egg retrievals, suffered the side effects of Clomid and other fertility drugs, IVF, and at the very sign of their cycle starting, realize their efforts were all in vain. They grieve the glimmer of the dream they temporarily had, hoping that this time, the pregnancy would stick. They feel betrayed by their bodies and wonder ‘why me?’. They find it difficult see babies or pregnant women in public, and to celebrate others’ baby showers, though they do.
Beyond the above illustration, there are mothers who didn’t necessarily want to become mothers, or who had a very different idea of what raising children would be like. Their sense of fulfillment is lacking and they feel that there is no one to whom it would be safe to vocalize these feelings.
Though the causes may differ, what all these women have in common is their pain around mothers and motherhood.
As with any other hangover, there are things that help it along, like water and easy-to-digest food or taking a nap. For the mother’s day hangover, perhaps treat yourself to some quiet, recuperative time. Indulge in a face mask and hair treatment. Take a nice warm bath. Be gentle with yourself about your feelings; acknowledge them without judgment. Talk with a confidante about your frustrations as a mom, with your mom, or with attempting to become a mother.
Sometimes the best way to get out of a sad mood is to help another. Imagine the sorrow of the divorced mother whose ex-husband kept the children with him and their new step-mom during the Mother’s Day holiday. Maybe suggest a walk or bike ride together in a beautiful park. Support a friend who you know struggles with her complicated relationship with her mother….or one whose mother has died.
Whether you were or weren’t treated with a bouquet of roses or breakfast in bed, your joy or pain is valid, your story is important and it matters.
For National Hot Tea & Oatmeal Month, we shared the Great Goji Groatmeal breakfast recipe on this recent WBNS 10TV segment with Karina Nova and Ross Caruso. With our weather being perfect (meaning: cold, rainy) for this breakfast, we’re sharing it here with you too!
What is an oat groat? It’s the whole grain form of oatmeal, before it is steel-cut, rolled, or pulverized into an instant oatmeal package. These oat groats are chewy and take some time to cook, which is why we called upon our trusty slow cooker to work the overnight shift.
1/8 cup of goji berries (or substitute with raisins)
1/3 cup cacao nibs (optional)
Use a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Put oat groats, chia, shredded coconut, water, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and goji berries (and cacao nibs if desired) inside. Blend cored apple and add to slow cooker. Stir all ingredients and cover, cooking on low for about 8 hours (automatic slow cookers should then switch over to ‘warm’ setting). Stir and serve with additional fruit (i.e. berries), nuts, seeds, or sweetener on top and enjoy a warm belly of food to start your day!