Are you Kind?

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Since mid-spring, when feeling intrepid enough to head outdoors (usually still with a mask), we’ve found great fun in exploring little neighborhoods and parks within Columbus. On a recent walk, we found this sign and it has become an inspirational reflection point. It’s a great question to ask ourselves if we are kind, how we express it, and generate ideas of how we can further increase kindness in our communities and the world.

You First

Which brings in our next point, you can’t pour from an empty vessel. Like most things, change needs to start with us as individuals, within our homes, then expanding to our communities and causing a ripple-effect from there. If you think about the antonym of kindness, what is it? It’s not necessarily selfishness or arrogance, it’s meanness. Here’s the thing: if you bully yourself (see Are you a Mean Girl?), how could you possibly be nice to others from a well-spring of compassion and peace?

To neglect or express a rejection of one’s self while performing actions of kindness, usually leads to resentment while trying to people-please. Showing yourself some appreciation and renewing your self with sleep and nutritious food can better equip you to help take care of others.

Thought Action

Kindness starts with a thought and, ideally, ends with action. The action should flow naturally from the source, much like love expressed in words is sweet but is sweeter still when shown. Wishing that the world was kinder is a nice thought, but doing something to start little chain-reactions of kindness is better. Ask recipients of your kindness to ‘pay it forward’.

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”- James 2:15-16. Translated into plain English, if you see someone in need and think or say to them “I hope you get the help you need” without endeavoring to provide any assistance, what’s the point? and his brother John provides the bottom-line:

“Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

Ready for Kindness-in-Action?

Be creative in your kindness! Sure, you could buy coffee for the people behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru but let’s dream beyond that.

Quarantine has afforded us time to take closer looks at the possessions within our four walls. Choose something to give away that you no longer need nor want, but that could help another. Shelters routinely need toiletries, combs and brushes, bottled water, twin bed sheets, towels, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and new underwear and socks. Animal shelters could use food, towels, toys, and more. What is extra for you may be essential to someone else.

Volunteer and offer a skill or service free-of-charge. Offer babysitting or to help home-school kids in the neighborhood. Maybe you’re great at graphic design and can help someone starting their new business. If you are a mechanic, offer your assistance. Volunteer an hour of time, or an afternoon, to a food pantry or soup kitchen. Handy with tools? Build something and donate it. Guess what? Even self-quarantining with Netflix binges, you can serve the greater good when you knit or crochet blankets for premature or stillborn babies.

If you’re on a budget, there are still plenty of ideas you could employ. Leaving a positive note or a review for a restaurant or small business can help them out. Let a family with small children go before you in line at the grocery. Beyond saying “hi” and our cursory interactions with others, take time and genuinely ask someone about their day; they are typically grateful that someone expressed an interest in their lives and well-being. Find a cause you’d like to support and take part in their upcoming charity race. Offer an intrinsic “your dedicated hard-work made this project look great” or extrinsic (e.g. “I love your shoes”) compliment to brighten someone’s day. Some say food is love; making a meal for your family, partner, or roommate can remove a task from their list and create positive feelings all-around. 

Remember, your small act of kindness can have a phenomenal ripple-effect. Big or small, what is one action you can take today to change your life and possibly the world?

5 Immunity Boosters: Foods & Herbs

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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

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.

Elderberries

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?

Ginger

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.

Licorice

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.

Echinacea

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.

Ready to talk more to a nutrition expert and lay firm foundations for your health for the short- and long-term? Schedule for your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call and take control of your health and wellness.

Thank you, Flu

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Wondering where we’ve been? Well, first Arizona, and then, during the week where writing a blog was at the top of the list, something happened. Whether it was a delayed on-set from exposure to recycled airplane air or just from another silently contagious human, the flu caught up with us.

An early morning of feeling super-slow, as though walking through molasses, and strange aches made us call a meeting short. Thinking we could still rally and celebrate a friend’s birthday dinner, we decided on a nap. It was only upon awaking that the sad truth set in, with its fever and chills, achy joints, headache, and congestion. The flu.

Too tired and weak to drum up a will to fight, we chose an opposite approach. Giving in. It was decided: instead of trying to force ourselves to feel better and continue working (at least from home), we would do what animals tend to do – including slowing waaaay down. The first day we didn’t eat, the second day was spent in the cave-like bedroom allowing sleep to take over whenever tiredness hit (which was basically all day). Though we couldn’t eat much at all, we took a look at our mental diet…what would we watch or read that would make us feel better? (It ended up being Netflix’s Kindness Diaries and Queer Eye, both rather inspiring and heart-warming). For someone whose stomach rules her life, it was odd not to feel hungry and day 3 brought back a little hunger and ability to enjoy a favorite Mediterranean meal. Here are some silver linings from the experience:

  1. Slowing down – the experience showed the wisdom of not running ourselves into the ground all the time
  2. All of the delicious vacation meals (including homemade Butterfingers and coconut ice cream) put some weight on, which was promptly removed by the flu.
  3. Seeing people in life care and bring wellness remedies, food, and even humor to the situation.
  4. Gratitude for health increased dramatically; how we take it for granted when we’re well!
  5. A nice surprise: sugar cravings went away! It felt like a whole-body reset after a few days of tea, remedies, lots of water, and rest.

Though it was wise to take time to heal, it was more than a bit frustrating to have to scratch all of our appointments and goals for the week. So if getting sick is something you don’t have time for, take time for keeping yourself well. Here are some tips to do just that:

1. Wash hands thoroughly; clean door handles on a regular basis
2. Get enough sleep; skimping here will lower your immune system’s ability to fight off illness
3. Healthy diet; this should go without saying. Proper nutrition is critical to protecting the body and keeping it well.
4. Stay hydrated; it is easy to over-look the benefits of getting enough water
5. Laughter: it boosts the immune system!

Stay well, friends!

10 Easy Switches for a Plant-based Diet

Hear ye, hear ye!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: you do not need to eat twigs and tofu to be a healthy person. More importantly, you can ENJOY your food while improving your health!

Our position on the non-exclusivity of health and enjoyment of delicious food remains unchanged. With regards to the plant-based diet and your health goals, it IS possible to have it all. We present to you 10 easy switches for a plant-based diet, from simple substitutions for recipes to a plethora of meal and snack ideas. Here we go!

Simple Substitutions

Try non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk (i.e. almond, cashew milk are healthy alternatives and are widely available in grocery stores – or easy to make yourself!)

Instead of butter, consider coconut oil (for baking, spreading on toast)

Try nutritional yeast instead of cheese (sprinkle on top of popcorn, make mac+ cheese)

Tahini and hummus instead of dairy-based dressings or dips (i.e. Ranch)

Ideas for Meals

Breakfast

oatmeal with fruit and nuts

avocado or nut butter on toast

green smoothie

Lunch & Dinner

rice, beans, and veggies in a bowl

cauliflower walnut ‘meat’ tacos

pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables

spicy Indian dal

baked sweet potato with vegetarian chili on top

Snacks

popcorn seasoned with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt

raspberry coconut ice cream

carrots, apple, or celery with nut butter

sweet potato fries

DIY trail mix with nuts, seeds, & dried fruit

Did you notice? Being over-achievers, we gave more than 10 tips and ideas to help You make the transition to more of a plant-based diet. Whether it’s a ‘meatless Monday’ or ‘vegan before 5pm’ goal you have, these ideas will tickle your tastebuds and provide your body with nourishment.

Film Review: Food Evolution – Pro-Science or Pro-GMO?

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Photo source: foodevolutionmovie.com

Film Review: Food Evolution

By Adrienne Raimo, RDN

Description: The film Food Evolution asserts that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), despite a controversial reputation, are a safe and intelligent solution to feeding an over-populated world.

Synopsis: Through his film, Food Evolution, the director aims to furnish some answers to the questions of how the science behind GMOs might be used to feed the earth’s growing population. While portraying those concerned about the health and environmental impacts of GMOs as misinformed and fear-mongering, he champions the developments of certain GMO foods as a way to improve crop resistance to disease and drought. The film tries to assume an objective, evidence-based analysis of the science behind GMOs as a safe and reasonable solution for looming issues of food security and sustainability as well as environmental health.

Continue reading

Recipe: Peppermint Eggnog & Vegan Nog

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Our first eggnog experience was rather unremarkable and with concerns about foodbourne illness from raw eggs, we’ve never pursued it…until now. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tasty peppermint eggnog recipe for you which can be made safely with eggs AND we have an eggless, vegan version which is equally delicious. We love to be the bearers of joyous tidings, and this beverage is one of them.

Eggnog is technically stirred custard, very similar to ice cream.

Peppermint Eggnog

6 organic large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cups non-dairy milk (we used unsweetened almond milk, you can DIY here)
1/2 can or 6.5 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, if desired

Instructions

Whisk eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in large saucepan over low-medium heat until combined. Then pour milk in slowly while whisking to fully incorporate into mixture. Whisk ingredients over heat constantly, until thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 30 minutes.  This is an important step; should you leave the eggnog mixture to cook on its own, you’ll likely get an unappealing scrambled egg-in-milk, porridge-y mixture.

After cooking is complete, pour mixture through fine sieve over a medium bowl, cool for a few minutes, and stick in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can also do an ice-bath to help cool mixture down faster. You’ve made a custard; great job!

Remove custard from refrigerator and set aside as you put coconut milk cream in a bowl and mix well. Then fold into eggnog custard mixture until combined; fill cups with this delicious, creamy eggnog.

Option to add alcohol. To garnish beverage, sprinkle with finely crushed peppermint, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint or cinnamon sticks, or whatever strikes your festive fancy.

Vegan Peppermint Eggless Nog

The only real difference here in terms of ingredients is the fact that we’re using frozen bananas instead of eggs. Because of the natural sweetness they provide, you may want to consider decreasing the amount of maple syrup added or omit it.

4 bananas (peeled and frozen)
1/2 cup maple syrup, if desired
3 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 can or 6.5 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, if desired

Instructions

Even easier! Put all ingredients in a blender and blend it until smooth. Garnish as above with your favorites.

Besides being delicious, eggnog is quite versatile and can be added to coffee, used in making french toast, quiche, and more! We hope you enjoy these egg- and/or dairy-free versions of eggnog with your friends and family over the holidays.