Monthly Archives: April 2012

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Thanks Thursday – Vitamin V

Nutrition isn’t something we get by food alone. We are nurtured through our relationships, spirituality, exercise and career; what the Institute for Integrative Nutrition calls Primary Food.

When it comes to Primary Food, there’s nothing quite like Vitamin V for an energetic, healthy and happy life. Ahhh … Never heard of Vitamin V? It’s the essential nutrient that you can only get by volunteering. It is a gift to yourself when you step into the service of others: Your entire system is flooded with Vitamin V, and is a powerful feeling!

I understand that for some it will be a bigger step than for others; not everyone is outgoing and comfortable trying new things, but step through your fear and into volunteering by giving time to an organization that you admire. Your body will thank you for being adventurous and for sharing your gifts. If it’s too uncomfortable to step out alone, invite a friend … Share that Vitamin V!

If you regularly step into service, try something or somewhere different. Seeing needs from a different perspective can speed that Vitamin V straight to the heart!

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Schools, hospitals and libraries
  • Soup kitchens and food pantries
  • Battered women’s shelters
  • Homeless shelters
  • Ronald McDonald Houses
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Foster Child Services
  • Animal Shelters
  • VolunteerMatch.org (national database where organizations list their needs)
  • Meetup.com (search for ‘volunteer’ near your zip code)
  • If you don’t belong to a church, call local ministers and ask where the need is the greatest
  • Call Social Service Agencies in your area for opportunities

If you have children make it a habit to feed them a heaping portion of volunteerism regularly. I have worked with kids at a food warehouse packing boxes of food and at a soup kitchen. They are incredible workers and add joy to the process … They are a gift to the rest of us. There is no better nutrient than Vitamin V to help build kind, caring and aware adults.

So, along with healthy, nutritious whole foods add a nice serving of service to your routine and you’ll be well on your way to a fabulously healthy and happy life! If you would like support on your journey to health, I would love to share the ways I can support you in achieving your goals. Contact me for more information or visit my website, HealthWorksKC.

Namaste

Mad About Monday – Meditation

I tried it; meditation. I even thought that I had managed it a couple of times. Meditating never got me where all of the teachers along the way said that it would. I thought that my ADD prevented me from staying focused or unfocused. The only successful meditation I’ve ever done was guided. I clearly wasn’t mad about meditation!

The last lecture of my one-year health coaching program was by Deepak Chopra and the topic was Consciousness. About two-thirds of the way through the two hour lecture; he had us set two intentions, and then led us in a meditation using the phrase “I am” as a mantra. I had trouble staying with it.

First, I had no idea it would be twenty minutes long and it was so silent (absolutely no sound) that I kept thinking that my iPod had paused. Of course, I broke the whole eyes-closed-quiet-mantra deal and checked.

Second, I kept thinking of my affirmations which begin with, “I am …” The most common being “I am Energetic, Healthy & Happy.” It was very distracting.

Sign up for a Free Health Consultation at http://www.HealthWorksKC.com to Receive Your 8x10 Poster!

When he brought us out of the meditation and explained that a mantra is a word or words that don’t have a history or meaning to you, I decided to try again the next day … today. What a difference!

This morning a mantra came to me that isn’t words at all, rather sounds. I set my intentions, and then set my timer for twenty minutes. Today I got to that space between things; the discontinuity as Dr. Chopra calls it. During the lecture he said that if you think you’re there you aren’t because awareness of time and space disappears. You see, you can only know you were there when you are finished.

When the timer went off I was surprised that the time was over; quite a difference from any other meditation attempts when I was sneaking open one eye to see how much longer I had to go. I felt as if I had gone deeper and made a connection; to what or whom I am unsure, but it was a rich experience.

I believe we receive things when we’re ready. After so many failed meditation attempts I had no intention of trying again; but the Universe had heard my earlier intention to meditate daily and it formed its own plan. Meditation snuck up on me in the guise of a lecture … sneaky. The Universe knew something else: It was time.

Is it time for you to step into better health? I would absolutely love and be grateful to be able to support you in your quest to get healthy, gain energy, lose weight and love yourself through making positive, long-lasting changes that lead to you achieving your personal health goals. For more information, or to sign up for a free Health Consultation visit my website at www.HealthWorksKC.com.

Food Friday – Parsley

Curly Parsley

Parsley is a lovely garnish that’s been used for as long as I can remember and most people know that it is an excellent breath freshener. What you might not know is how good it is for your health.

This easy-to-grow herb is packed with Vitamin K which is a powerful ally in allowing blood to clot normally, protecting bones and preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women, and helping to prevent calcification of arteries.(Warning:  According to Dr. Weil, people taking anticoagulants should monitor their intake of veggies packed with Vitamin K and should not take supplemental K.

What other health benefits can you get from including parsley in your diet? There are so many that leaving it on your plate is downright criminal! Here’s the short version

An organic compound found in the essential oil of parsley inhibits tumor formation and assists in reducing the impact of oxidized molecules. It also neutralizes carcinogens in cigarette and charcoal grill smoke that can pass through the body.

Luteolin leads the pack of anti-oxidants by attaching to oxygen radicals to prevent the cell damage caused by these bad boys. I do believe they wear white hats!

It’s a good source of folic acid which converts homocysteine into benign molecules and is critical to healthy cell division. High levels of homocysteine are related to increased incidence of stroke and heart attack due to atherosclerosis.

It’s loaded with Vitamin C which is the body’s primary water-soluble anti-oxidant.  People who consume healthy

Italian parsley tends to be sweeter than the curly varieties. Also known as Flat Leaf.

amounts have reduced risks of atherosclerosis, colon cancer, diabetes, and asthma.

Parsley is an excellent source of beta-carotene which is a fat-soluble anti-oxidant; an important nutrient in supporting the immune system. It is associated with reduced risk of development, and progression, of atherosclerosis, colon cancer and diabetes.

This lovely green sprig is easy to grow, preferring partial shade and moist, humus-rich soil. I put mine in the ground over the weekend … Looking forward to picking it fresh for my salads and smoothies!  For starters, you might want to try the Pear Parsley Smoothie at Gone Raw. Enjoy!

Big thanks to World’s Healthiest Foods for their crazy bank of knowledge!

Thursday Thanks – Food Activists

Badseed Farmers Market, 1909 McGee in KC, every Friday beginning May 4th 4-9PM

I am grateful for the people at the grassroots level that are choosing to grow their food and mine; urban farmers, family farms, beekeepers, herbalists … those who are doing things the old fashioned way trying to heal the land, their families and mine. These folks are leading the charge to freedom from poisons deemed ‘safe,’ including chemical fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and feed that is laced with all of the above.

The food from people that care is energetically superior to that which is factory farmed. There is true love and commitment involved in farming organically and sustainably. That is the energy that’s in the food from a Farmers Market … love, and sweat, and tradition. Have a little of that with your dinner!

There are many places to purchase grass fed, grass finished beef and pastured chickens. They are usually more expensive, but as demand grows, prices keep getting a little bit lower. This brings me to previously quoted Michael Pollan, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Eat the best that you can afford. Learning to replace some meat entrees with bean dishes is a really healthy choice that helps to keep costs down. (Chili with beans, bean soup, salads with beans and black bean burgers are just a few choices.)

Many urban areas are lucky to have farmers bring what’s been ordered to a central location for pickup, or they attend

Brookside Farmers Market in Kansas City on Saturday Mornings

Farmers Markets and bring pre-ordered items along. Check out Local Harvest for growers in your area. In the KC area you can download a directory of members at KC Food Circle.

Most of the farmers I’ve met are full of advice for how to use their products; many offering plants and recipes. There are a growing number of new businesses springing up to teach homeowners how to cultivate their yards for organic food production. What a fantastic way to save money and teach children where food really comes from!

So, thank a food activist this weekend … visit a Farmers Market in your town.

Word Wednesday – Illusion

Optical illusions are intriguing as we struggle to see past the illusion to reality. Oh my, a metaphor for life.

My mother in front of an illusion mural painted on our living room wall by my dad. It is created entirely of straight lines.I grew up on illusions.

I grew up on illusions. I was a child of the 50’s when Father Knows Best gave us the illusion of what life was like in other households, mothers were totally satisfied with their roles as wives and mothers, girls didn’t play sports or want to drive trucks, martini lunches did not equal alcoholism, doctors were gods who knew everything about your health and nutrition, the government was integrity based and put their constituents’ needs first and corporations had their customers and employees best interests at heart; Illusions.

I am grateful to have been a member of the generation that questioned it all. Now I continue along that vein by questioning the USDA’s illusion that their new version of the food pyramid is the answer to this country’s populations’ nutritional needs. It’s an improvement over their last version, but it is still obvious that they are holding hands with the food corporations who want to make a lot of money using cheap ingredients. So, let’s take it one ‘food group’ at a time.

Fruit: According to USDA fruits canned, frozen, fresh or dried and 100% fruit juice is considered a fruit. So, you can get your entire day’s fruit by slugging down juice instead of eating the whole fruit. Several pages into the fruit section I found that they recommended eating most of your fruit servings as whole fruit rather than juice … several pages in! Fill your plate half full with fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables: Interestingly green lima beans and black-eyed peas are categorized as a starchy vegetable if fresh and a bean/legume/pea if dried. Similarly corn is a vegetable if fresh, a grain if dried according to the USDA. I find this a bit baffling since they don’t consider dried fruit anything but dried fruit. Iceberg lettuce is on the list even though it has almost zero nutritional value … go ahead fill your plate half full with iceberg lettuce.

As an aside, there’s a section on Beans and Peas being a unique food in that you categorize them according to your eating habits … true! If you eat meat, the amount of beans over the recommended amount of protein is counted as a vegetable; if you don’t eat meat, count them as a protein until you meet the protein requirement then count the remainder as a vegetable … is there an app for that?

Grains: One quarter of your plate, maybe a little more, should be grains. A half of that should be whole grains. Apparently the rest can be crap.

Protein: This category states ‘lean’ in every area but also includes deli and luncheon meats … I wonder why? Wouldn’t it be okay to leave that out since turkey in the deli department pretty much says turkey? Again, hand holding with the food companies maybe? Beans and legumes are listed here also, again with the link to the ‘unique food’ info. Interestingly, the one thing that’s missing is dairy … oh wait, that’s because Dairy is its own food group!

Dairy: Beans are unique and have a place in two areas and their own link to more information but dairy is considered its own food group? Dairy isn’t a food group, it’s a food choice. That choice should be under Protein or Fats. Nowhere is it more obvious than here that the dairy industry is in bed with the overseer.

It would take someone with a computer and some serious desire to navigate this new attempt to ‘advise’ Americans on what/how to eat a nutritious meal. Some of the population that needs the guidance the most doesn’t have easy access to technology.

Now, in an attempt to irritate the magicians, I will explode this illusion of good nutrition with the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Notice that it says, “mostly” not only. You can eat healthy and enjoy your favorites … In his book, “Food Rules” he lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely. Its 64 pages will guide you to sensible choices.

Don’t want to wade through the confusion? That’s a good reason to hire a health coach! They can support you in discovering what works for your lifestyle. For more information, or for a free health consultation, visit my website.

Healthy Easter Basket Goodies

Sugar and Easter is a tough combination to break, but one well worth the effort. Forget the artificial colors and ingredients found in prepackaged candies and cheap chocolates. If you feel compelled to give the kids something ‘normal’ go ahead, just make it a small part of the entire basket.

Fill the rest with healthy choices and get the kids started on the road to high quality goodies they can make themselves. There are some fantastic recipes on the web for raw chocolate candy which is typically made with raw cacao powder, nuts and raw agave or honey. Roll them in cacao powder, crushed nuts, sea salt, or coconut … YUM! With cookie cutters you can make them into Easter shapes by first flattening them and then cutting them out.

The beauty of raw: there’s no cooking involved so even the littlest ones can join in and cleanup is a breeze! (The ingredients are available at Whole Foods and in often in the organic/health food area of your regular market. (In the KC area, HyVee carries raw ingredients at a fairly reasonable price.) There are some prepackaged raw chocolates available at Whole Foods if you have run out of time.

One of the most flavorful, convenient, reasonable priced alternatives to junk food? Larabars. There are probably more than 16 varieties including chocolate chip, carrot cake and lemon, cherry, apple or pecan pie. They are made with dates, fruit and nuts and taste fabulous.

Another treat available at most stores, but my favorite is at Trader Joe’s, is organic dark chocolate. Some have bits of orange, almonds, mint, cranberry, jalapeno pepper … the list goes on, but my point is that quality dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and is lower in sugar than milk chocolate. Look for 70% cacao or more.

Instead of empty calorie jelly beans,  add some green, purple and red seedless grapes. Sweet, crisp and loaded with nutrients, put them in egg shaped containers or small containers that they can later use to hold their small collectibles.

Put lettuce and carrot seed packets in the basket and after the hustle and bustle dies down, get out the potting soil and get them started. Maybe once the seedlings are planted, and the carrots and lettuce begin to grow, rabbits might visit. If not … Salad time! Instead of a basket, use a large flower pot to hold their Easter goodies!

Make sure the eggs you color and share are from a farm where the chickens are allowed to engage in normal chicken behavior. Most major stores carry a local brand such as Good Natured Family Farms and my favorite, Campo Lindo. Thankfully, there are many resources in the KC area.

Use natural plants to develop the dye and use the activity as a teaching moment with the kids. Click here for a good place to learn how.

Be creative, have fun, include the kids. Start healthy holiday traditions and your kids will be blessed with good health, not only at the holidays, but all days!