April in February

chickens, 4-9-11---AVG 011

As I sit here on my patio today working in the warm sunshine, and watching my oh so very happy to be out of their coop, chickens peck the ground, it’s hard to believe that it is the 18th of February. Today feels much more like an April spring day, than a day in the middle of winter. Just a short week ago, we were wondering if we were going to be able to get out of our driveway due to the 9 inches of snow that had fallen overnight.

It’s about 60 degrees out, the sun is shining and the honey bees are flying around looking for food. I wonder if they can find any food in this crazy winter. As near as I can see there is nothing blooming to supply them with food, I think that in a normal winter, they would still be dormant, but it seems we all have a bit of cabin fever today, even the wildlife.

My hubby is washing the winter salt residue off of our 2005 Honda Pilot and I think dinner tonight may just be made outside on the grill. Although it is not normal for this time of year in Western Pennsylvania, I’m a summer lovin’ kind of gal, so anytime I can lose the boots and winter jacket I am one happy camper.

I know that winter is not over, and we will more than likely get hit again with snow, but, I am very thankful for this spring-like respite from the cold and snow, and it seems so are my chickens. 🙂

 

 

Why Buckwheat Pancakes are Healthier

recipebookmeascups

For a short period of my life, when I was very young, my family used Buckwheat flour to make pancakes. My dad loved buckwheat pancakes, my mom…not so much. So after my dad passed away at the very young age of 50, my mom stopped making buckwheat pancakes.

Fast forward 40 years and I am back to making buckwheat pancakes. They are so much healthier than pancakes made with regular white flour or even gluten-free flours. There are so many reasons to love buckwheat. Here are just a few of them:

  • It’s naturally gluten-free, even though, by it’s name you would think it had wheat and therefore gluten, no so.
  • Provides a high source of Amino acids, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents.
  • Low in calories and fat
  • Supports heart health
  • May help prevent diabetes and digestive disorders
  • It’s unique amino acid composition lowers cholesterol levels, it decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL, (good cholesterol)
  • Helps to lower inflammation and blood pressure
  • Has a low glycemic index making it a good alternative for diabetics

Since buckwheat is naturally gluten-free it is a great choice for anyone with Celiac Disease or on a gluten-free diet. Here is my go to recipe for Buckwheat pancakes that taste delicious and are a healthier alternative to regular pancakes.

Buttermilk-Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • butter or refined coconut oil for the griddle

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your griddle over medium low heat, and brush with just enough butter or oil to coat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the first 5 dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the buttermilk, vanilla extract and egg. Beat together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together until combined and there may be a few small lumps.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop and pour batter onto the hot griddle. Cook until small bubbles start to appear on the top of the pancake, and the edges appear dry. About 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Flip pancake and cook on the other side about 1 to 2 minutes more or until a light golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a clean dish towel lined cookie sheet and wrap towel over pancakes, place in a warm (200 degree) oven to keep warm. Repeat until all batter is used, adding more butter or coconut oil as needed.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup, or honey.

Makes about 10, 3 inch pancakes.

Giving Back

“I love that I have decided to build a business with a company that is so service oriented.  d?TERRA provided this amazing story about Jennifer Thomas who volunteers her time at a local hospital and hospice center in order to bring comfort and care to the patients in a way that the doctors and nurses don’t always have time to give.

I haven’t been able to volunteer in that capacity for a very long time, but this story has inspired me to reach out and help my community in some way. What are some ways you have found you can contribute to your community? Leave a comment below and enjoy the story! Hopefully, you feel as inspired by it as I do!

You can find Jennifer’s story here:

 

Grilled Fennel

 

 

grilled-fennel

The weather in Western Pennsylvania this winter has been crazy. 12 degrees and snow one day, then 60 degrees and rain two days later. So I decided to try a new recipe for fresh Fennel, or Anise. If you’ve never had Fennel, let me tell you about it.

Fennel has a very distinct licorice-like flavor and when it’s grilled becomes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience you don’t want to miss. Since Fennel is a winter vegetable, I usually roast it in the oven with a little olive oil and just a smidge of sea salt, but I thought since it was a fairly warm day, I would try it on the grill. It was delicious!

Now if you’re going to tell me that you don’t like licorice, let me just say neither do I.  This flavor is totally different.  Just try it! 😉 And as an added bonus, it’s naturally gluten-free.

Grilled Fennel

Prep Time:  5 minutes

Cook Time:  45 minutes

Ingredients:  

  • Fennel
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How to Make It:

Trim the tops off the fennel.  The stringy parts, called fronds,  can be used as an herb in your cooking, but aren’t needed for this recipe.  You can even use the stalks in place of celery in some recipes, but realize they’ll have a much stronger flavor than celery.

Trim the bottom of the bulb and then cut the remaining bulb lengthwise into quarters.  Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place on grill at medium heat to sear the fennel.  Move to indirect heat, with the cut side up, and cook covered for about 45 minutes or until fennel is very soft. You can tell when it’s done by the texture, rather than the time.  You definitely want to make sure it’s tender.

Jumpstart Your Body: Gentle Cleansing and Detox Exercises

Yoga Branded

A thorough detoxification program needs to include exercise. Exercise that causes you to sweat aids detoxification as sweat helps remove poisons from your body. Exercise also promotes healthy circulation and overall fitness. No matter what method you are using for bodily cleansing, exercise can augment it. Here are some good exercises for cleansing and detoxification.

Walking. This is a basic, gentle exercise that is good for those doing a cleanse for the first time, or just undergoing an overall change toward a healthier diet. Walking works most of the major muscle groups, and increases heart rate and circulation.

Stretching. Stretching is so good for muscle health. It helps prevent the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. You know that sore feeling your muscles can get the day after a workout? That is from lactic acid accumulation. Stretching gently opens up the muscle fibers and allows toxins to move out.

Yoga and Pilates. More than just stretching, yoga involves specific stretches that promote relaxation and balance. Pilates is based on cat movements, and helps relax and rejuvenate muscles while toning as well. Both exercises help reduce stress, which is important in body cleansing – constant stress can cause toxins to accumulate in the body.

Martial Arts. Like yoga, martial arts include the movement of body energy as part of the exercise program. From slow, smooth, stretching types of martial arts like tai chi to more active arts like tae kwon do, martial arts include meditation and bodily discipline with the benefits of exercise.

Swimming. Swimming is easy on the joints, and is a wonderful way to get a full-body workout without jarring joints or feet. See if you can swim in a pool that uses ozone rather than chlorine to clean the water.

Bicycling. Going for a bike ride exercises more than just the legs; the core muscles in the trunk also get strengthening. If you are outdoors (rather than on a stationary bike), breathing fresh air helps cleanse the body. Like swimming, bicycling is easier on the joints than walking or jogging.

Bouncing on a trampoline. Did you know something so fun could aid cleansing and build healthy body tissues? The secret is in the force – when you come down onto the trampoline, the gravitational force your body experiences increases. The higher you bounce, the more force when you come down. The body responds to this increased gravitational force by building stronger tissues and cells. All organs and muscles could benefit from being strengthened.

Join my 12 Day Detox! Next one starting on February 27th.

Why Food Plays an Important Part in Cleansing

shutterstock_287406206

Cleansing the body is a popular topic these days, and for good reason. We do, in fact, live in an environment where our bodies are bombarded with toxic substances on a daily basis. Exercise, supplement programs, fasts, meditation, yoga, etc. are employed to varying degrees in order to bring cleansing to the body. But the important role that food plays in cleansing – simply what we eat – can not be ignored.

Americans have a tendency to want quick fixes to problems and symptoms. We love our pills. We can swallow a capsule or tablet and go on about our business, no lifestyle changes necessary. But the problem with this approach is that it completely eliminates the connection between food and health that is so vital. Pills may mask symptoms, but the underlying problem of a poor diet will not be addressed. In other words, toxins are still building while the symptoms are being alleviated.

Sometimes, we look at food as our enemy – we think the less we eat, the healthier and thinner we will be. But what you do eat is very important. Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food, said Hippocrates (from whom doctors get the “Hippocratic Oath”). Let’s look briefly at some of the constituents in whole foods and their various cleansing benefits.

Fiber. This is a big one. Fiber is one of the primary ways to eliminate waste from the colon. Without it, bowel movements lack bulk and toxins can build up in the colon. Fiber absorbs poisons and waste matter as it moves along the intestinal tract, picking it up moving it out. High-fiber diets are also associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Vitamins and Minerals. Healthful, whole food contains these vital nutrients. These substances have more roles in the body’s health than can be discussed here, but some particular vitamins, such as C and E, have specifically antioxidant effects. Iron builds the blood; other vitamins and minerals build bone and tissue; still others play an active role in cell regeneration. Without vitamins and minerals, the body can not repair and rebuild itself from a cleanse.

Antioxidants. Many foods have these bodily scavengers. Green tea, berries, tomatoes, and other foods have antioxidant properties. Cranberries promote bladder and kidney health, which are important organs involved in bodily cleansing.

Essential Fatty Acids. We are just beginning to understand the importance of good fats in the diet. It turns out they are crucial, and, among other things, help support liver health. The liver is a major cleansing organ.

Phytonutrients. These are simply the nutrients found in plant foods, and they tend to have anti-cancer and antioxidant benefits.

What you do choose to eat has a significant role in the cleansing of your body. So, of course, does what you avoid eating. Refined sugar, white flour, and processed foods full of artificial preservatives, colors and flavors will have the opposite effect, building toxic waste in your tissues.

Beautiful Glowing Skin: Skin Cleanse Diet

Spa Sauna

Have you ever applied all sorts of expensive creams or cleansers and wondered why your skin continued to look unhealthy? That’s because healthy skin comes from the inside out. Remember, your skin is an organ, and like all organs, it benefits from a healthful, toxin-free diet. Here are some steps you can take toward a skin-cleansing diet.

Stay hydrated. You have probably heard about the importance of drinking water to stay healthy and cleanse the system, and that includes your skin. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, at least six 8oz. glasses a day. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to cleanse your liver – in traditional Chinese medicine, poor skin indicates an unhealthy liver.

Bring on the fats. For your skin to remain plump and supple, rubbing on moisturizers can help, but taking healthy fats into your system will have a deeper, healthier effect on your skin. Flax, olive and fish oils, as well as expeller-pressed cooking oils like safflower or canola, should be incorporated into the diet. Eat fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon at least once a week, but make sure it is from a reputable source so that you are not adding to your body’s toxic overload by eating fish that have lived in toxic waters.

Fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to hydrating the body, fresh veggies and fruits provide vital skin-healthy nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and E and toxin-absorbing fiber. Many vegetables, such as tomatoes, contain antioxidants. Lightly steamed or raw are the ideal ways to consume these foods.

Nuts and seeds. These little gems include important blood-building nutrients like iron, and healthy circulation and blood are key to good skin health. Nuts and seeds also contain healthy fats, which, as noted above, keep the skin smooth and glowing.

Go organic. If you have not already, switch to organic foods. Your body needs to be as free from toxins as possible for your skin to be healthy, and organic food is not contaminated with synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. These substances can also cause hormonal imbalances, which are strongly implicated in acne and other skin problems. This goes for produce as well as meats and dairy products. Speaking of dairy products…

Limit dairy products. Except for plain yogurt, you should sharply limit your dairy intake for healthier skin. Our modern dairy products are likely to contain hormones or antibiotics, and they contain animal fat which does not promote healthy skin.

Limit junk and fast foods. These “foods” are full of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. Cleanse your skin from the inside by eating whole, fresh foods instead.

The Ten Best Super Foods For Good Health

002-bonus-health-zz

The older I get the more thankful I am that I have always fed my family healthy choices at meal time. Making healthy choices results in good health, which is priceless because it allows you to get more done in your day and live a more prosperous and healthy life.

It is necessary to take care of your body today so that it’s strong enough as you get older to keep diseases at bay.

Eating good foods doesn’t have to be expensive or take too much of your time to prepare if you plan well. Make sure to stock your fridge with healthy foods to avoid the temptation of getting take-out or eating junk.

Get rid of unhealthy foodstuff in your car or home that could tempt you to eat when you get hungry.

Super Foods

Below is a list of the ten best super foods that you should include in your shopping list.

Salmon

Salmon is full of omega 3 fats which are beneficial for heart health. Hence, people at a higher risk of heart attack should eat salmon a few times a week.

Salmon contains a chemical substance called tryptophan that is important in promoting better sleep. Salmon is great for improved brain health and highly recommended for children’s proper brain development.

It also increases bone density to prevent breaks in children and the elderly. Just be sure to buy Alaskan Wild Caught Salmon as opposed to Farm Raised.

Almonds

These nuts contain good fats that help reduce bad cholesterol in the blood; besides they curb hunger to ensure one does not eat too much. Almonds make a great snack; in addition they contain vitamin B, magnesium, prosperous and copper which are necessary minerals for good health.

Chocolate

The darker the chocolate the better the nutrition; chocolate is full of antioxidants that get rid of toxins in the body. It is also believed to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body for better quality of life. Moderation is required when consuming this super food.

Blueberries

Blueberries have a lovely blue-purple hue that contains a chemical substance called anthocyanin which is an antioxidant. This antioxidant helps to fight prostate cancer, which, is a common killer in the world. They also reduce the risk of developing glaucoma when eaten regularly.

Beans

Not enough words can describe the goodness of beans; they are high in fiber which is essential for colon health. They contain easy to digest proteins for building and repair of muscles. They reduce bad cholesterol in the blood when eaten regular; besides they are affordable and available in most localities.

Eggs

An egg a day is good for you; eggs contain complete protein which the body digests slowly for continuous supply of energy which is beneficial when working out. An egg is one of the few foods that contain natural vitamin D which is essential for strong bones.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt contains proteins that help in the building of strong muscles. Besides it contains good bacteria that strengthen the immune system to fight diseases.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed that is high in amino acids, iron, prosperous and dietary fiber. People suffering from anemia will benefit from eating the seeds. Quinoa leaves are also eaten as greens; however they are not easily available in the market. The seeds when cooked can be added to salads for a sumptuous meal full of healthy goodness.

Broccoli

This is a vegetable in the cabbage family that is full of antioxidants that lower the risk of cancer when eaten often. Broccoli can be eaten raw or steamed to ensure the vitamins present are not damaged by high heat.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain dietary fiber ideal for digestive health; furthermore they contain beta carotene for good eyesight. Vitamin C present is necessary in healing and repair of the body caused by exposure to the elements.

Optimum Foods to Keep Your System Squeaky Clean

shutterstock_287406206

You may have heard about cleansing diets or fasts, but if you want to keep your system clean, it comes down to what you eat every day. If you want to keep your body at its best, here are some tips toward maintaining optimal nutrition.

Eat Organic, Whole Foods

This is rather basic, but very important. Whole foods are those that have undergone the least processing, but they do not have to be eaten exclusively raw. Examples include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed and free-range meats that are not processed into preserved meat products, and natural sweeteners. Your system will not be clean if you continually pump it full of unhealthy foods. This does not mean you can never indulge, but it does mean that your diet should consist of at least 80 percent whole, organic foods. That way, when you do choose to indulge, your body can handle it and eliminate the toxins on its own.

Replace White with Brown

This is a basic nutritional rule of thumb for optimal nutrition. Replace all refined or “white” foods with whole or “brown” foods. It’s not the color of the food (white popcorn, for example, is very nutritious); it’s the level of refinement.

For example:

  • White flour/Whole wheat flour (Obviously, not if you are eating gluten- free you would use Brown Rice flour)
  • White sugar/Raw, unfiltered honey, blackstrap molasses, or Sucanat
  • White rice/Brown rice
  • Pasta made from refined flour/Whole grain pasta (Again, Brown Rice or Quinoa, if eating gluten-free)

Probiotics

These friendly bacteria are important for helping the body keep itself cleansed. Sources include yogurt, miso (a fermented soybean paste), and supplements.

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

These are foods that provide the most nutrient value for their caloric value. In other words, they are the opposite of “empty calorie” foods like candy or fried potato chips that are full of calories but lacking nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods are not necessarily low-calorie (although they can be) – avocados and nuts are examples – but for their calories they deliver large amounts of nutrients.

Fiber

High-fiber diets are essential to keeping the system clean. Fiber bulks up bowel movements, taking toxins along with it as it moves along the intestinal tract. Healthy choices for high fiber are whole grains, including air-popped or stove-top popcorn (not microwave popcorn, as it may contain some dubious chemicals), fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Supplement

The supplement debate is likely never to be resolved, but supplements are worth looking into in today’s often nutrient-deficient culture. If you are not getting enough vitamins, minerals, fiber, or probiotics from your diet – and such dietary goals can be difficult to reach – consider supplementing with a natural, whole food multi-vitamin, minerals, probiotics, or fiber source (such as psyllium husks). These are my go to supplements.

You Are What You Drink

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Add a few generous squeezes of lemon juice to your first glass of water in the morning for a liver-cleansing tonic.

Join my 12 Day Detox! Read about it here. The next one starts on February 27th.

5 Foods That are Healthy and Make You Feel Great

veggies

It never ceases to amaze me that people will pop over-the-counter medications for every possible ache, pain, mood or ailment, but never think to look at what they are eating as possibly the source of their ailments, or that food could be a source of empowerment.

Despite what the pharmaceutical companies lead us to believe, we can find “cures” for most minor maladies right in our own garden, provided by Mother Nature. She has given us all that we need for a healthy, well-balanced diet and the tools that we need to get through our day, our week, and our lifetime healthy and happy.

While most every food has its benefits, here are just five of the most worth mentioning:

1. Chicken – Grandma had it right when she made us chicken soup for our colds. The white meat found in chicken contains the essential vitamins B12, B6, and B3. Chicken can assist in lowering your risk of stroke and also boost your mood. Chicken is low in fat (especially with the skin removed) and high in protein. Besides all the nutritional benefits, chicken is so versatile; it can be cooked in so many ways using a variety of tools such as the outdoor grill or an indoor rotisserie. And the B vitamins provide a host of benefits such as:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Fighting off anemia
  • Maintaining healthy blood cells
  • Warding off heart disease
  • Increasing energy
  • Converting carbohydrates into energy

2. Broccoli and Salads – Broccoli and salads, especially salads made with leaf spinach, have many benefits. Broccoli contains vitamins A, C, and E while spinach provides folate, which helps to maintain and produce newer healthier cells for the body. Vitamins such as A, C, and E help to boost the immune system; this could mean less time off sick and shorter duration of ailments such as the common cold.

3. Bananas – For a sweet treat any time during the day, reach for a banana. The benefits of a banana are numerous. You can choose to eat a banana as it is, or you can add it to yogurt, a smoothie, or a bowl of quinoa. (Pronounced keenwa)  Either way, you will gain the benefit of a quick energy boost that sustains you for several hours along with the mood-altering benefit of the B6 vitamin that bananas are rich in. In addition, you can even mash up really ripe ones and use them as a sweetener in baked goods, such a muffins, in place of the sugar.

4. Dark Chocolate – The good news is that good quality, dark chocolate has many benefits to help make you feel great. The cocoa in chocolate has heart-healthy benefits such as lowering your cholesterol and reducing heart disease. That’s not all; dark chocolate can lift your mood significantly with its tryptophan and magnesium. Grabbing a piece of high quality dark chocolate will not only help your heart, it will also help your mind.

5. Gluten-Free Whole Grains and Seeds – Gluten-free whole grains* and seeds have been found to contain selenium which has been shown to significantly reduce depression. A good gluten-free whole grain bread with your favorite spread or even an all-natural peanut butter provides fiber, selenium, and protein. The nice thing about gluten-free whole grains is that you can mix and match them to make bread.

*Like Buckwheat, Quinoa, Gluten-Free Oats, Amaranth, Sorghum, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Teff, and Indian Rice Grass (aka-Montina)