Friday, February 6, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Lovers Post

Today's valuable post includes: a natural remedy for belly aches, a pumpkin pie spice recipe, a breakfast spice muffin~Jamaican ginger cake~pumpkin cookie recipe, a trick for a flavorful, chemical and sugar-free cup of chai tea, and an amazing benefit of ripe bananas!

Improve quality and save $$$ by making your own homemade pumpkin pie spice with Whole Foods Market organic spices!

Organic Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 c organic cinnamon
1/2 c organic ginger
1/2 c organic nutmeg
1/4 c organic cloves
1/4 c organic allspice

Combine and store in spice container. I use this old cinnamon container from Costco shown below. Great in desserts, oatmeal, muffins, coffee, and more!

Breakfast Spice Muffins OR Jamaican Ginger Cake OR Pumpkin Spice Cookies
1 1/2 c pitted dates
1 1/2 c hot water
1/4 c canola oil (optional)
3 ripe bananas ( case you don't like banana flavor)
Tbsp vanilla
1/2 c pumpkin puree (Costco's organic ~$1/can!)
3 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe above, OR Whole Foods bulk)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled (optional)
1/4 c ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 c whole wheat flour
Jamaican Ginger Cake

Pre-heat oven to 375 (convection: 350). Blend dates through fresh ginger in blender (I use my Blendtec); next add flaxseed. Pour mixture into mixing bowl. In separate bowl combine last three dry ingredients, and then add dry to wet ingredients, and gently mix only until dry ingredients are wet. Pour batter into baking pan (I love my silicone collection), muffin tin, bread pan, or simply scoop spoonfuls on baking sheet (again silicone rocks!). Bake for around 20 min, or until it looks done on top. Cuts better when cool. You can eat the batter!!! The beauty of no raw eggs. Yes, this is a sugar-free, vegan recipe, that we've made probably a half dozen times in the last two weeks!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Ginger Cake
To use a bread maker, just pour the wet and dry ingredients into your machine, activate "cake" setting, and off you go! I also choose "dark" (rather than medium or light) for "crust control".

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea
After you've prepared your treat, you should sit down for a cup of chai tea. Simply pour a cup of black tea or a cup of hot water (for caffeine free) into your blender, give it a quick spin, and viola! Either way, you have a perfectly delicious cup of chai tea AND your blender has had a good rinse :)

Do you ever get tummy aches? Mine come when I eat a piece (or more!) of candy, too much chocolate or cheese...and usually my belly-ache worthy choices come in batches, so I use this really great remedy, which works for me nearly every time! I can only think of once when I took a second piece of ginger (because I was still uncomfortable) and that tummy ache turned into a few days of me being very sick, so maybe nothing was stopping that one. Anyway, as soon as my belly starts to hurt, I pop one of these candied ginger pieces! Shortly after, I feel so much better :)

Of course it'd be better if there wasn't added sugar, but I am not sure I could eat a large chunk of ginger on it's own. Each candied ginger piece is like a spicy gummy bear :) Even candied, they are still really strong. I could see the benefit of eating a piece daily, but I can really only bear the strong flavor when I get the instant payback of belly relief.

See MebMD for it's many helpful USES. They discuss studies which have found nausea following surgery to be greatly reduced with use of ginger. It's also been used to help relieve morning sickness, and been found to be as effective as anti-nausea drugs following chemotherapy (this provided insufficient evidence, but if it may work AS WELL as someone on chemotherapy taking another medication, that seems a pretty good choice).

Last, but not least, the really ripe bananas that are so great for their sweetness, are also much more effective in boosting the body's immune system than bananas with a green skin, according to Japanese researchers. Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) is produced when the brown spots appear, and the more brown spots, the more TNF. TNF helps to break down cells that aren't needed, such as, and most importantly, cancer cells. Wanting to find that original source, I came across this well-written description of the research/benefits.

COMMENTS: when I was first married, my hubby and I lived in London, and came across Jamaican Ginger Cakes, yum! My recipe reminds me of that treat from long ago, and the fun times we had in London. Have you ever had a McVitie's Jamaican Ginger Cake? Or is there a food that brings back memories, like these do for me? Happy weekend everybody!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fast, Chopped, and Clean -- FROZEN Rules!

Slushy Spritz Spheres!

Lucky 7 Benefits of Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

  1. Fast -- pre-cleaned and cut
  2. High in nutrients -- picked and flash frozen at perfect ripeness
  3. Perfectly ripened -- until the moment you need them!
  4. Won't go bad -- no wasted food or money
  5. No added salt -- 2 cans of veggies exceed a healthy daily sodium intake/limit
  6. High value -- overall prices are great, especially at Costco, and you aren't buying any waste (peels, etc)
  7. Delightfully delicious dessert -- frozen fruit pureed, or as is :)

  • Mangoes (slippery to peel and chop myself)
  • Peppers and onions (oh, the tears!)
  • Broccoli (from Costco, you get organic and all florets -- awesome!)
  • Cherries, berries (the most delicious candy!)
BONUS: chopping fresh herbs yourself and freezing for later is one of my favorite useful tips! Just last night, I refilled my cilantro supply!

COMMENTS: Frozen, the movie, love it or hate it? I most enjoy my kids belting out the songs together ...including my little boy :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What's Wrong With What We Eat?

This video featuring a TED talk from Mark Bittman is full of food for thought, through history to now, to consider when eating! He discusses many topics ranging from environmental impact of farming to politics of food. He's a writer for the New York Times and has written many books about food as it relates to the world -- the health of our planet and the health of all people :) Enjoy!

What's Wrong with What We Eat?

COMMENTS: what do are your thoughts after watching this video? Are there any changes you want to make now?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

All You Need is Love

Last weekend, I had the honor of taking a fabulous class: The Wisdom of the Heart: Where Psychology, Health, and Spirituality Meet with Joan Borysenko.

My spirit and my brain gained much on this day! I love simple, non-invasive, non-medicative ways to be healthier and happier AND the science and physiology behind them!

Joan is very accomplished with degree after degree (from Harvard Medical School), author of 16 books, researcher, friend of many other wonderful doctors, researchers, and religious leaders. Joan is an amazing, warm, personable, and real woman.

I'll share three especially exciting bits I learned: 

#1 TLC and LOVE Heal Us!
Our acts of love induce and sustain self-healing by REDUCING IL-6 and cortisol and a naturally INCREASING HGH. These are very beneficial changes, and note that HGH supplements are unapproved by the FDA AND ineffective. Besides being an antagonist to stress, love stimulates our pleasure system, so endorphins, cyanocobalamins, dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, and nitric oxide (NO) all increase. These changes decrease our fear and increase our motivation! 

#2 "Where ever we COME ALIVE, that's where we are spiritual!" For me, that's right here, teaching others about how to be healthy inside and out, as well as when I feed my family and friends :)

Remember that golden trait of kids? Who wouldn't want more?!
Joan discussed many methods of increasing resilience:
MindfulnessMeditationBreathingGratefulnessForgivenessYoga, Exercise and Compassion/Kindness. Physiology involves two parts of the brain: the amygdala ("emotional brain") and the prefrontal cortex (planning and control center). Resilient people, show up to 30x more activation in the prefrontal cortex than people who lack resilience. When meditating or practicing some other method mentioned above, the prefrontal cortex sends inhibitory GABA to the amydgala, which decreases its activity. In effect, the alarm raised by the amygdala turns of and our emotions are calmed.

BONUS TIP: A Meditation and Lojong Song to TRY

Sing or Say:
"May I be filled with lovingkindness, may I be well.
May I be peaceful, and at ease.
And may I be happy."

After this first verse, repeat with the substitution of "I" for "you", which with each repetition, could be with the intention of anybody or any group of people, including loved ones, as well as enemies, and those we don't understand.

Or perhaps try repeating one of these tips which could serve as slogan for this mental training practice.

When Joan introduced this song, she talked about how researchers at Tufts University were studying Tibetan Monks and found that these practices improve resilience specifically by making one less reactive to stress AND decreasing inflammation. Singing this "song", or just repeating it in your head, is a perfect way to Wish Others Well :)

Another related topic Joan mentioned and I love is Positive Psychology, I surprisingly haven't done a post on this relatively new, and awesome field! The resiliency-boosting topics listed all basically fit under the blanket of Positive Psychology

Related link: Inner Peace for Busy People: From Stress to Strength

COMMENTS: I love Love Actually: it's actually one of my favorite movies! Do you like to watch a movie once like my hubby, or over and over, like me? Do you like scary movies? I have a post coming soon about the interesting topic of fear :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Top 4 Party Tips and PB&J Poppers (Revised)!

Party Tips for a Happy Halloween!

You will surely be encountering lots of sweets and parties this weekend, which will be fun! Enjoy the good company and smiling (or scary) faces :) As for sweets and treats, here are some helpful tips (ACCHEW!: Away CHeck CHoose Eat Water!):

  • EAT up your healthy stuff (some chili, hummus, popcorn, Triscuits, guacamole, an apple, some toasted pecans, etc.) before you encounter all the goodies! It is so much EASIER TO RESIST with a full belly than a growly one.

  • CHECK OUT everything that's there, and CHOOSE what really looks like the thing (or things) that you want to enjoy the most! Don't eat anything until you've SEEN the whole spread. Check out Savor Your Sweets!

  • Always have a glass of WATER IN HAND at the party. Sometimes people just keep eating and drinking because it's there. If you have your water to drink, that can be the thing that you keep putting to your mouth. Check out Hydrate!

  • Finally, MOVE AWAY from all the food. There are plenty of other spots to socialize. Maybe you could snuggle up by a fire!

Try PB&J Poppers for your sweet tooth! One of my FAVORITES!! You can eat them BEFORE the party and/or bring them to SHARE!


1 c raw walnuts
1/4 c salted peanuts
3/4 c raisins (be sure no sugar is listed in ingredients)

Blend everything in food processor until everything starts sticking together, then form into desired shapes! I almost always do balls, but you could use holiday cutters for a spooky treat!

*The original and this revised recipe are equally delicious, and the revised is even healthier with walnuts (healthiest nut!) and no cherries (since they are usually sweetened)!

Plus, check out these darling little pumpkins that someone made at school :)

(Here is a link to this image)

COMMENTS: Do you like to dress up? What was your favorite Halloween costume ever? My favorite was a simple one that I made for my daughter. She was a flower in a flower pot. It was fun to put it together :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Drug Mart Saves Me the Runaround :)

Do you shop at Discount Drug Mart? There are many locations along the Great Lakes!

Recently, Drug Mart added an organic section with great prices! My favorite bargain buy is the organic dried beans :) They carry several varieties, and for comparable prices with Whole Foods. See Top 5 Whole Foods Market Bargains. Plus, you don't have to spend time scooping in the bulk section.

Try some yummy Super-Easy Chili with your dried beans!

As for the tea, it's a very good price compared to other organic teas I've ever bought or seen in the store. The CHAI tea shown is delightfully flavorful and satisfying :)

COMMENTS: I love a good buy! Do you have any to share?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'm not a vegetarian. PLUS, Super-Easy Chili Recipe :)

My family and I are NOT vegetarian or vegan, so we do occasionally enjoy EGGS (danger of eggs), among other animal-foods, as a treat. However, we eat those things because they taste good; NOT for the potential nutritional benefits. Exception: kefir and plain yogurt :)

Check out 5 Big Reasons to Make Your Meat Portions Small! and Plant-Based Diets are Powerful!

Super-Easy Vegetarian Chili

2 cans (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (I use the enormous 100 oz can from Costco)
1-2 lb frozen corn (Costco has a cheap price on organic)
1-2 lb frozen peppers and onions (I buy from Dollar Tree or Trader Joe's)
4-5 cans (15.5 oz) kidney beans (OR more!; any type of beans work great!)
Consider using DRIED BEANS
Chili powder, to taste, add generously because of large food volume

Combine all ingredients (except avocado) and bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes up to several hours...the longer it cooks, the richer the flavor! Serve with avocado slices as an alternative to cheese and sour cream on top (if you love sour cream, try substituting with Greek or plain yogurt, I bet NO ONE will even notice!)

COMMENTS: What would you like to see on the blog? More recipes? More informative posts? More about running or other fitness or lifestyle tips and tricks? I would love to hear from you! Thanks for reading ;)


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