Chaotic or Calm? What’s the vibe as September rolls in?

How is it September already???

I absolutely love the summertime – it feels free and more fun and spontaneous!  Where I live, the days are LONG so it feels like there are actually more hours in a day, but I have a strong appreciation for September and getting back to my tried & true routine. A fresh start if you will.

The energy in September feels like a Second New Year to me!

When everyone in my house is back to the daily and weekly schedules they need to adhere to, whether it is work or school, my time management and budgeting tools get put into use full force.

In the past, when I tried to just wing it when dealing with everything my family had to do… well, let’s just say things didn’t go well!

As far as my TIME MANAGEMENT goes, my planner is how I keep things together for sure. I’ve tried many and have found one that works best for me (and it is creative and inspirational too).  For me, its a physical planner that I write in but you need to Be True to YOU and if a digital planner is a better fit for you then go for it!  But it really REALLY helps to have everything in one place for easy reference when life gets super busy.

I also use my calendar and reminders function in my phone to help with it all.

And this year, more than ever before, BUDGETING is happening big time to help me make the most of my family finances since things have gotten more expensive across the board this year.

What does this look like?

I know how much I bring in as far as income sources, it doesn’t change too much so I have that in mind then I deduct my monthly expenses (like water, hydro, gas, car) so I have a pretty clear idea what I’m working with for everything else.

Groceries have been the most challenging the past few months but I’ve been working on trying new recipes, and I definitely shop the sales!  This week my grocery store is having a case lot sale so I was able to stock up on some of my staples for a much better price and because it is a bulk-buy I won’t have to buy those things as often as I usually do freeing up a bit more money in the next couple of months.

I know a lot of people aren’t fans of planning ahead. Heck, I used to be one of them!  But I’ve found that doing so actually reduces my stress because I’m not feeling like I’m spinning out of control trying to deal with the next crisis.  I found FREEDOM in having a solid routine to set the foundation of my days.

That said, flexibility matters too… more on that in an upcoming blog post.

I recently asked the women in my online community a question: On a scale of 1-10, how much does time management and budgeting impact your quality of life?

Do you feel like you’ve got a good handle on it? Or are you caught up in the chaos?

Here’s some tips to help make it a little easier on yourself:

  • Have a consolidated space where all your and your family’s activities, etc. can be viewed (planner, digital app, wall calendar… whatever works best in YOUR world.
  • Make use of the calendar app and set reminders on your phone.
  • Clean out and assess your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Make a “cheat sheet” of the items you use and need to buy regularly and get into the habit of checking your stash before ordering or going to get groceries.
  • Try meal planning. It can seem overwhelming when you want to get started, but once you have a firm grasp of what you’ll be making for dinner in the coming week you’ll know what you need, how long it will take to prepare it, and if there’ll likely be leftovers to make use at another mealtime.
  • Take a good look at your finances. (I know, this can be tough sometimes.) Do your best to determine your usual monthly income, what your set monthly expenses are, and how much you have to cover all the rest after that. It might be a real wake up call for some, but it will help you plan ahead. If money is tight, be firm about what you can let go of either temporarily or permanently. (I paused our Netflix and Audible subscriptions to help make ends meet during a recently financial set back… little things add up!)

As a Solo-Mom and as a Life Coach, finding solid useable practices to help lessen stress levels is super important to me. The tools shared here are all things I personally make use of and can say they’ve helped improve the quality of my mom-life immensely!

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

A New Way to a Familiar Destination

I was planning on writing a blogpost about boundaries this week; their importance, why we struggle with setting appropriate boundaries, tips on how to get going… but this morning I realized that one was going to have to wait.

Instead, I feel the need to write about the “baby-steps” I’m taking to rebuild my strength after a crappy experience of being very ill this past winter.

So BABY STEPS it is!

Those who follow me on social media or who receive my newsletters might remember that I came down with shingles after injuring a nerve on the top of my head last November. (If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, you have the virus that can cause shingles sleeping in your nervous system. With all my heart, I truly hope it never “wakes up” so you don’t have to experience shingles.) Anyway, I was surprised as the only people I’d known of who had shingles were all women in their 70s – I’M NOT THERE YET – and I didn’t realize a nerve injury could trigger it, although in hindsight it makes perfect sense.

So, I had shingles on my scalp, my face and in my right eye. I have never been so ill in my life. I literally laid on the couch for almost 2 full weeks. I didn’t even sleep in my own bed because I wasn’t really sleeping. The pain was incessant and unpredictable. I’m not one for taking medications if I can help it, but let me tell you I was keeping track of every painkiller I took so I knew when I could take my next dose and even then they just dulled the pain they didn’t eliminate it.

My rash didn’t clear up until 5-6 weeks later and my eye is almost completely healed. There is a small patch in my vision where it feels like I’m looking through a smudge on my glasses but it is very tiny and I can live with it!

I barely ate. I barely slept. The pain was unimaginable. I’m so fortunate to have loved ones nearby who could help me out with groceries and getting to appointments as I wasn’t able to drive for weeks.

Recovery was slow. Especially given that it had gotten into my eye. So I tried to go slow as I eased back into my “regular” life.

It took so much longer than I expected!

I should also mention that while not single, I am a Solo Mom and the past few years – even before the pandemic – had been very challenging. I went into this illness already maxed out as far as stress-levels were concerned.

The first time I really realized how hard everything had been on my body was when I went snowshoeing in early January (almost 2 months after getting ill). I have been very active during the winter for 10 years now so going snowshoeing wasn’t anything new to me. We weren’t doing anything difficult, just a nice little loop that would take us less than an hour. Well, my body did NOT enjoy that and I ended up getting extremely ill afterwards which set me back a little bit as far as getting back into the swing of things to say the least.

My nutrition was up to snuff (I have the BEST supplements and shakes which truly got me through the worst of my sick days because I honestly could barely eat anything but my body desperately needed the nutrients to fight the virus and heal), so no worries there. However, my physical stamina was nowhere to be found.

How could this be? I didn’t understand fully because I’ve never been that ill before, so I started asking questions and looking into options to help me heal to a point where I feel stronger and more capable than I had been for a few months.

WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES IN NEW SITUATIONS WE NEEDTO BE OPEN TO FINDING NEW WAYS OF APPROACHING THINGS.

I found I could not do a full yoga practice as I am used to doing. After about 25 minutes I would feel drained (and while I am a yoga teacher and have been for many years, I typically practice a slow-flow sequence so it wasn’t like I was Power-Yoga-ing and then feeling pooped, lol!) So I created mini practices for myself #babysteps. Depending on how my energy levels were, they are between 10-20 minutes which I am just now able to combine to enjoy a half hour practice. Yay!

I discovered that my cardio strength had really diminished and it was keeping me from hiking all the gorgeous trails near where I live. But the weather, my family responsibilities, work schedules, etc made it challenging as to when I could actually get outside while it was daylight. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a regular routine as it makes things so much easier to stick to!

What new way could I build my cardio and stamina from home? One that DIDN’T cost a fortune or take up a lot of room as my home is tiny… I found an old-school stationary bike! And I love it! It is compact, easy to use, and didn’t cost me a fortune. To be honest, I found it for $50 on Marketplace. Yay!

I started slow, because I had experienced what happened when I tried to push myself too far too fast. Ten minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after work. Just enough to get my heart rate up a little! The next week I did 15 minutes twice a day. Now I’m up to 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after work and I’ve been able to increase the tension for a better workout! Again, #babysteps to the rescue!!!

Do I feel bad about myself because of how I’ve had to scale back what activities I do or how long I do them? NOPE. I feel proud of myself that despite coming up against new challenges and obstacles, I’ve been able to find ways of healing and improving my health that work with how things are NOW.

Things change. We need to be able to change too.

Different isn’t bad, its just different. And sometimes as we shift into something new and different, we need to do so gently and let ourselves take Baby Steps.

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

PS – if you’re looking for some help figuring out your own best next-steps to make positive changes in your life, I’m here! I’m certified in wellness, life, and sleep science coaching and I’ve been teaching yoga for almost a decade. Give me a shout at info@breezewellnessbc.com

Catching Some ZZZs (and why how you fuel your body matters!)

Most likely its come to your attention at some point in your life that there are certain things we should avoid if we want to get a good night’s rest. The most common thing we’re warned about is CAFFEINE and I know its a tough one to give up (or even cut back on). So I’m not going to tell you to go cold-turkey on that unless you want to… but I am going to let you know that because caffeine has a half-life of 8 HOURS, you’re gonna want to make sure you aren’t having any coffee, tea, pop or energy drinks a good 8 hours before bedtime to give you your best shot as sleeping well. Oh, sadly I need to add chocolate to that list as well as it contains caffeine too. Have your treats a little earlier in the day!

In addition to caffeine, eating too much food, or having fatty foods like burgers, pizzas, or fully loaded nachos late in the day can stress the digestive system and wreck havoc on your nighttime rest by causing indigestion and/or bloating. Best to enjoy in moderation, maybe by enjoying a good sized salad along with a piece of pizza or smaller helping of nachos. Keep it a bit more balanced and less taxing on the tummy.

One more thing to be mindful of as far as what you’re consuming close to bedtime… alcohol. Yup. I know it can be super tempting to pour a nice big glass of chardonnay or something to help unwind at the end of the day, but hold off. While a bevvy like this might seem like it helps you drift off to sleep quicker, it actually interferes with you getting quality sleep at night. So yes, you might be snoring away in bed for the whole night but you’ll like wake up feeling like it was only for 4 hours. Best tip if you are looking to improve your nightly slumber? Avoid the bedtime drink or have it at least a couple hours before you’re going to tuck in.

Okay, so those are the thing you want to try to reduce or eliminate to improve how much rest you’re getting at night. Happily there are certain things you CAN have closer to bedtime to help make things better!

Try adding a nighttime snack of a handful of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios. These all contain natural melatonin which helps regulate our sleep/waking cycle. Your grandma’s standby of a warm glass of milk before bed is actually a good idea if you like milk! It contains both tryptophan and melatonin. CHERRIES were such a lovely surprise to me in my research to find sleep-supporting foods! This fantastic fruit is a powerhouse of sleep support. Cherries contain 4 different sleep regulating compounds: melatonin, tryptophan, potassium, and serotonin. Finally, while I advised against caffeinated tea above, chamomile tea IS recommended and has been used traditionally as a remedy to help insomnia. Chamomile contains a flavonoid compound called apigenin which has sleep-inducing properties… but just have one cup – you don’t want to be waking up in the middle of the night because you’ve had too much tea and need the bathroom! LOL!

On that note, staying hydrated throughout the day will also aid your sleep at night. When you are dehydrated, it can cause leg cramps and sore joints which can wake you or prevent you from dozing off easily. One last note on fueling your body for better sleep quality… sometimes our diet simply might be lacking in a nutrient that our body is low on or has trouble assimilating so we need an extra boost. This was a big discovery for me as I made my way on my own wellness journey. I spent a decade trying to ditch my exhaustion and get some decent sleep and everything I added to my daily habits helped, but it was finding the right supplement that finally clicked everything together for me. That final missing puzzle piece, if you will.

Magnesium, B12, Calcium are just some of the supplements that can help improve quality of sleep. As I always say, “We are all built from the same stuff, but we are all put together a little differently.” And we all have differing life circumstances. If you feel like you might need to supplement to give your body a nutritional boost, I highly encourage you to check in with your healthcare practitioner to see what you might be lacking. I’ve taken supplements pretty much my entire adult life because I was aware of some gaps in my nutrition. Now that I’ve found a super simple and effective 3 step supplement system that I can get done as soon as I wake up in the morning has made all the difference in fueling my body well. If you’d like to know more about the line of nutritional supplements I’ve fallen in love with, check out the Nutritional Support page at http://www.breezewellnessbc.com

Soooo, are you up for taking a good look at what you’re putting into your body and how it (or lack of it) might be impacting your sleep? It is one more step you can take in setting yourself up for sleep success with a routine you can stick with!

Cheers to catching those quality ZZZs!

Because I’ve Been There…

Why did I choose to create a wellness coaching program just for moms?

Because I know what it feels like to have the bulk of parenting responsibilities fall to you in addition to working and keeping a home.

I know the struggle of sleepless nights, daily exhaustion, and feeling like everything is out of control.

I’ve experienced the despair and feelings of inadequacy when the day slipped by yet again with little quality time with my children and the overwhelming sense of “missing out”.

I turned all those things around for me and my family through a lot of trial and error, by connecting with experts in the fields I needed help most with, and via ongoing education until I had a system in place that I could easily work into my life and stick with!

I don’t want any other moms to lose years to struggling like I did.

THAT’S why I created The Real Life Reset System – to help moms ditch their daily exhaustion, level up their energy, and find the focus they need so they can do all that they have to do (and WANT to do) in their busy mom-lives

It’s all online, so it can work into any mom’s schedule

If this sounds like something you want to know more about, I invite you to book a free 30-minute Mom Life Clarity Call. At the end of our call together, you’ll leave with a better idea of what your best “next steps” can be regardless of whether or not you choose to join The Real Life Reset System.

Looking forward to chatting with you!

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

Prebiotics 101 – what the gut needs

“Pre”biotics?

Yes! They’re the food that we feed our probiotics, the friendly gut microbes that are oh so important for good health.

Our gut microbes are alive, and they need to eat too. Their favourite foods are called “prebiotics” and include dietary fibre and resistant starch. The same fibre that keeps us feeling full slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular. Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids. Both of types of prebiotics (fibre and resistant starch) are linked with many health benefits.

Technically-speaking, a prebiotic has three qualities:

  • It needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact;
  • It needs to be digested by our gut microbes; and,
  • It needs to stimulate our health-promoting good gut microbes.

Now that we know what prebiotics are let’s dive into their health benefits.

Health benefits of prebiotics

Prebiotic fibre helps keep us regular by bulking up our poop. It gives it substance and form, so it’s not too runny or liquid. In fact, more fibre is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhea. Prebiotic fibre used to be thought of like a broom that sweeps food through our guts, but we’re learning more about its health benefits beyond this role.

For example, prebiotics can also help to maintain normal bowel structure and function, and even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.

Those are some of the health benefits of prebiotics themselves. But we get even more health benefits when our friendly gut microbes eat and digest them.

For one thing, our gut microbes use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs (e.g., butyrate) can feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. SCFAs also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral (e.g., calcium and magnesium) absorption. These effects are all linked to the slight acidity caused by the acids in those SCFAs.

Dietary fibre also binds to healthful phytonutrients (phyto = plant). These phytonutrients are lost when the fibre is removed from the food. But, when we eat the prebiotic fibre, our gut microbes release these phytonutrients so we can absorb and use them.

Where to get prebiotics

Dietary fibre and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.

Prebiotic fibre is found mostly in plants; both fruits and vegetables.

Resistant starch is any starch (a type of carbohydrate) that goes through most of our digestive tract without being digested. It’s not broken down by our digestive enzymes because it’s “resistant”… until it gets to our gut microbes in the colon. Resistant starch is found in starchy foods like whole grains and potatoes.

One of the big differences between fibre and resistant starch is that all of the fibre we eat is undigestible. All of it reaches our colons. Resistant starch, on the other hand, is just a small percent of the starch we eat. Most starch is digested and absorbed along our digestive tract, and that part is not considered to be prebiotic. Only the small amount of starch that is resistant to digestion and makes it down to the colon to feed our probiotics is prebiotic.

Prebiotic fibre is found in fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s essentially what’s removed when we make juice – the pulp. It’s one of the reasons why eating whole fruits and vegetables is more healthful than replacing them with juice.

Here are some great sources of dietary fibre:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Pears

Resistant starch is found in:

  • Whole grains (e.g. oats)
  • Potatoes
  • Cornmeal
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Green bananas

Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e., more resistant).

Conclusion

Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.

Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that oh so healthy prebiotic fibre in a delicious way.

Recipe (Juice pulp): Brownies

Serves 12

¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (prebiotic)
3 tbsp coconut flour (prebiotic)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups juice pulp, firmly packed (prebiotic)
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup maple syrup

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8”x8” baking tray with parchment paper.

Add cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Whisk eggs, pulp, oil and maple syrup.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the baking dish.

Bake for 30 mins until the top is firm and edges just start to pull away from the dish.

Allow the brownies to cool.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: I like to blend the wet ingredients in my blender to make cleanup easier.

References:

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/juicing-removes-more-than-just-fiber/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/resistant-starch-colon-cancer/

https://extension.psu.edu/prebiotics-how-to-feed-your-good-bacteria

https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-fibre

Eating… Mediterranean Style

I absolutely adore the Mediterranean diet! So naturally I’m thrilled that it seems that study after study shows that it’s great for health on so many different levels.

 

And it is!

 

But what exactly does it mean? Is adding a glass of red wine to dinner enough? Does it require a cucumber salad every day? Do I have to give up my favourite foods?

 

In this post, I give you a simple list of Mediterranean diet foods to eat, and foods to ditch. And a couple of important lifestyle factors to consider too.

 

And I have a non-salad one-dish dinner recipe for you to try!

 

Mediterranean Diet 101

 

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied diets out there.

 

It’s based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, in the mid 20th century, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and healthier than Americans. And they had lower levels of heart disease, the #1 killer.

 

So, they set out to find what was so healthy in this part of the world. And the research keeps coming in. And it’s pretty impressive.

 

Eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with

  • Less overweight and obesity (it’s better than low-fat diets)
  • Better blood sugar control (for diabetes and metabolic syndrome)
  • Lower risk of heart disease and stroke (and blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • Fewer cancers (breast & colorectal)
  • Less premature death

 

Overall, it’s simply really good for you.

 

PRO TIP: Recent research even links the Mediterranean diet to better gut microbes! This makes sense when you feed your friendly gut microbes their favourite foods including fibre, fruit, and vegetables.

 

Here’s another bonus: Many people who start eating a Mediterranean diet can stick with it long-term.

 

How’s that for a healthy whole-foods health-promoting not-so-restrictive diet?

 

What to eat and drink on a Mediterranean diet

 

The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy whole foods.

 

Foods like:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fish and seafood
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Herbs and spices

 

These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre. And they’re often eaten in social settings where the food (and the company) is enjoyed.

 

The go-to beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Coffee and tea are also regularly consumed (without the addition of lots of cream and/or sugar). And yes, red wine (about 1 glass per day) is very commonly enjoyed.

 

Some foods and drinks that are eaten in moderation include:

  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Cheese and yogurt

Red meat, unfermented dairy (e.g., milk), butter, and salt are rarely consumed, if at all.

 

What to ditch on a Mediterranean diet

 

There are many foods and drinks that are not part of the Mediterranean diet. Not surprisingly, this includes many highly processed and unhealthy foods like:

  • Desserts
  • Processed meats
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
  • Refined grains and oils (including hydrogenated oils)
  • Too much salt
  • Added sugars

 

And if alcohol is a problem, you can also ditch the wine.

 

The Mediterranean diet also incorporates a different lifestyle. Some things to ditch are being too sedentary, eating alone, and being overly stressed.

 

Conclusion

 

The Mediterranean diet is a very healthy way of eating. It is a whole-foods diet based mainly focussed on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It also contains fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices.  The Mediterranean diet is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart… and the rest of your body.

 

Don’t forget that health involves more than just food. The Mediterranean lifestyle also incorporates regular exercise, eating with people whom you care about, and overall enjoyment of life.

 

Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I’d love to know! Add it to the comments below.

 

Recipe (Mediterranean): One Pan Roasted Dinner

Serves 4

 

4 cod fillets
2 handfuls asparagus, ends removed
1 cup black kalamata olives, drained
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin2 tsp dried dill2 dashes freshly ground black pepper1 lemon, sliced

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450ºF and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.Place the fillets in the middle of the pan. Add the asparagus, olives, garlic, and tomatoes around the fish.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dill and pepper. Slice lemon and place one onto each fillet. Squeeze juice from the rest of the lemon onto the vegetables.Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Check if fillets are opaque all the way through and flake easily with a fork. If not, then cook for another few minutes.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: You can substitute another fish for the cod (e.g., salmon).

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References:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

 

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000110.htm

 

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-the-mediterranean-diet#section3

 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801v

 

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/866254

 

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/870593

Nordic Seed Bread

As promised, here is the recipe I use to make this DELICIOUS “bread”.

NORDIC SEED BREAD

I need to preface this by letting you know that I’ve tried a few different recipes and ended up combining them to make my own.  The short summary is that you need 5 1/2 cups of whatever combination of nuts & seeds in this recipe plus the 6 eggs.

Ingredients:
1 C. Almonds (I used some whole and some sliced.)
1 C. Sunflower Seeds
1 C. Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 C. Hazelnuts or chopped Walnuts
1/2 C. Whole Flaxseeds
1/2 C. Sesame Seeds
1/2 C. Poppy Seeds or chopped Pecans
1/2 C. Chia Seeds
6 Whole Large Eggs

 

How To Make It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  If you don’t have any, you can lightly coat the inside of a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.  Personally I prefer the parchment paper as it makes clean up a breeze!

Place all of the nuts and seeds together in a large bowl.

Add the eggs and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture out into the prepared loaf pan and place it into the oven to bake for 55-65 minutes.  Remove loaf from the oven and give it a tap – the bread should sound hollow when it is cooked.  Remove the pan from the oven once done and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Turn the pan upside down onto a plate to remove the bread.

Once it has cooled it is easier to slice.  I leave mine whole and just slice off what I need each day.  The loaf will keep up to one week, stored in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge.

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This recipe is sooooo good!  You can enjoy it “sweet” with cream cheese and jam, or you can enjoy is “savory” with smoked meats & cheese.  You’ll love it!

 

 

How About a Lovely Cuppa…?

Tea has some great health benefits. Its antioxidant abilities make it heart-healthy and reduce the risk of developing cancer and diabetes.

 

But, does the type of tea matter? Is green tea that much better than black tea? And what difference does adding milk and/or sweeteners do to it?

 

I give you the goods on the green tea vs. black tea. And the healthiest way to drink your tea.

 

Yup, we’re talking tea today. But I’m not going to give you a recipe to drink tea. Nope, not this week. This week I have a special (and awesome) way to eat your tea.

 

Green Tea vs. Black Tea

 

Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.

 

Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits. And some of these benefits are thought to be related to tea’s antioxidant properties. These properties are from its flavonoids known as “catechins.” Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits that I talk about in this post.

 

Green tea vs. black tea – What’s the difference?

 

What do green and black teas have in common?

 

First of all, they both come from the camellia sinensis shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea. How is this?

The difference lies in how they’re processed.

 

If the leaves are steamed or heated, this keeps them green. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the colour and flavonoids which are the antioxidants.

 

Hence you have green tea.

 

If the leaves are not heated, and are crushed and rolled, then they continue to oxidize until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black teas have slightly less ability to combat free radicals than green tea does.

 

PRO TIP: Adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability.

 

Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg per 8 oz cup.

 

Green tea vs. black tea – Health Benefits

 

Tea drinking, in general, seems to be associated with good health.

 

Heart health – For one thing, both green and black tea drinkers seem to have high levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers. Green and black tea drinkers also have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.

 

Overall, drinkers of green and black tea seem to have a lower risk of heart problems. Green tea has also been shown to reduce risk factors (i.e., blood lipid levels) a bit more than black tea has.

 

Cancers – Antioxidants also reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men). Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers. Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

 

Overall, antioxidant flavonoids in tea seem to help reduce the risk of some different cancers. Green tea may have a slight edge over black tea, but both seem to be associated with lower cancer risk.

 

Diabetes – Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. For example, some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity.

 

Once again, green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea, but both are blood sugar friendly (just don’t overdo the sweetener).

 

Conclusion

 

Both green and black teas are from the same plant, but are processed differently. Green tea retains more of the beneficial antioxidants than black tea does; but both are associated with better health than non-tea drinkers.

 

Overall, both green and black teas are healthy drinks, and tea drinkers, in general, seem to have fewer health conditions than non-tea drinkers. Green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea when it comes to measurable risk factors of some common diseases.

 

When you enjoy your tea, try to minimize or even eliminate adding milk and/or sweeteners; these reduce some of the health-promoting properties of tea.

 

I’d love to know: Are you a tea drinker? Which tea is your favourite? How do you like to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Recipe (Green tea): Matcha Energy Bites

Serves 6 (makes 12-18 bites)

 

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
4 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp matcha green tea

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil

 

Instructions

Add all ingredients into food processor and pulse until blended.

Shape into 1-1.5″ balls.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: If you use sweetened coconut, then you can eliminate the honey/maple syrup.

 

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References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/brewing-evidence-for-teas-heart-benefits

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-you-should-know-about-tea

 

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea

 

http://www.healthline.com/health/know-your-teas-black-tea#benefits3

 

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/matcha-green-tea

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-in-green-tea

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

 

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tea

When the Winter Blues Come to Call

Firstly, I need to share with you that I hate coughing. I really HATE coughing. Why? Well, I’m sure it’s annoying for anyone, but I had bronchitis for an entire summer when I was 8 or 9 yrs old and my dad was a chainsmoker to make it worse. All my friends were out having fun, enjoying the time off school and I was bedridden for 2 months. Cough cough cough. Our family doctor even made several house calls that summer, taught us a bit of herbalism, and had to teach me how to cough properly so I wouldn’t throw up or choke. Ugh.

Anyway, how does that tie into a post about the winter blues? Well in addition to less daylight hours, lots of people get a bit run down over the holidays then get knocked flat by colds & flu in January, which can really do a number on our moods. I was doing great until I had a few consecutive interrupted/short sleeps and then I caught this damn cough that’s been hanging on for a cpl weeks now. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, it’s got me feeling pretty blue today. I’m doing everything I can to heal quickly (& considering the fact that some people I know have had it for a month I’m doing great!). But part of the blue feeling I’m experiencing tonight is a sense of isolation. In addition to my keeping to myself while coughing, there’s been sadness and loss in my world and amongst those I care about, and I’ve been helping someone who’s going through a really rough time. Yes, I’m still seeing people at work (not contagious, don’t worry), and my kids are at home with me, but the social side of my life has been much quieter than usual. I’m missing my people soooo much but I know if I push myself too far I’ll relapse & that just doesn’t make sense, does it?

How am I coping? Staying cozy at home (pj’s & fuzzy blankets), hanging with my cutie-cat Dharma, making healthy comfort foods, chatting on the phone, and getting to bed early.

Self care, especially when we are feeling blue and recovering from illness, is so important! Make yourself a priority… you can catch up on all the fun later.

Take it easy & be well!

If you feel like you need a little help shifting your Mindset into a more positive place, check out my free FB group Level Up Your Mom Life

It’s Cold Season! Arrrgh! What Can You Do?

Oh, the dreaded common cold. There are lots of natural ways to keep your body and immune system strong throughout the year. Things like nutrition/foods, lifestyle, and habits.

 

But, getting sick is still a possibility.  I’m living this RIGHT NOW! Everyone around me was sick in December and I did fantastic at following tips 1-5 below to help keep my immune system strong and then… I had 3 consecutive terrible sleeps where I was woken up multiple times (for multiple reasons) and that is likely what did me in.  Something my clients know about me is that I know how much proper sleep affects all aspects of our wellbeing and keeping the common cold at bay is definitely one of them. I’ve been following tips 6 & 7 for the past week and this cold is definitely on its way out!  WooHoo!

 

I wanted to share with you my best tips to help you prevent getting sick, and how to recover quickly… naturally.

 

Plus, I have a recipe for a natural cough remedy, free of drug store medications.

 

I’m Sick.  What Can I Do (Naturally)?

 

Getting a common cold doesn’t have to be so… common. There are things you can do naturally to make getting sick less likely.

 

But, if you do happen to get sick, there are things you can also do to help support your body to fight it off.

 

Good hand hygiene and overall healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. And good nutrition can help your immune system fight off a cold quicker. Imagine your germ-fighting immune cells all hungry and tired, versus them being nourished and full of energy.

 

And that’s what this post is all about.

 

First I’ll give you some tips to reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. Then, I’ll let you in on some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.

 

Natural tips to reduce your risk of sickness

 

Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting sick.

1 – Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause sickness. And I’m not just talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.

 

NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended! Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

 

2 – Get enough nutrients. I know this is way oversimplified, but I would be remiss to exclude it. Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients. The more nutrition you have, the better and stronger you will be, especially with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, and organ meats. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers and citrus. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.

 

3 – Probiotic foods. Helping our health-promoting gut microbes with more of their probiotic friends is in order here to help keep the immune system strong. Try 1-2 servings/day of fermented foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, and kombucha.

 

4 – Prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favourite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods like onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and seeds. Aim for 2-3 servings/day.

 

5 – Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian system? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours every single night, even when you’re feeling great.

 

 

Natural tips to recover from that sickness

 

When you do get an infection, not only do you need more nutrients to fight it off, but your body also has a harder time absorbing and using the nutrients you take in. Sometimes this is because of reduced hunger, sometimes due to gastrointestinal reasons. Either way, nourishing your body is even more important. When you do get sick, make sure you are implementing tips 1-5 plus the tips below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.

 

6 – Drink lots of fluids. Being sick can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup, and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the invading germ.

 

7 – Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.

 

Conclusion

 

There are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And staying healthy in all other ways helps a lot. Getting enough nutrition, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and getting enough sleep are key year round.

 

If you do get sick, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some warm, healthy fluids, and extra rest.

 

What do you do when you get sick? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Recipe (Throat soothing): Honey Lemon Ginger Cough Drops

½ cup honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root

Instructions

Put ingredients into a small saucepan.

 

Stir frequently until it becomes foamy. Be careful because the honey can burn easily.

 

Remove from heat and continue to stir until the foam reduces.

 

Put the saucepan back on the heat.

 

Repeat this until a candy thermometer reads 300F.

 

Drop a bit into a glass of ice water. If the mixture forms a hard, crunchy ball, it’s ready! If not, keep stirring and heating for another minute or two and try with the ice water again.

 

Once a hard ball forms from a drop into the ice water, let the saucepan cool until the foam has reduced.

 

Drizzle the candy into a candy mold or onto oiled parchment paper.

 

Let cool at room temperature until the cough drops are hard.

 

Pop out of the mold or break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Tip: You can sprinkle them with vitamin C powder to keep them from sticking together.

 

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References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-to-eat-when-sick

 

https://www.thepaleomom.com/natural-approaches-to-cold-flu-season/

 

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-the-common-cold-with-probiotics/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dExiRwh-DQ

 

http://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

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