Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blue Zones and More! Live Long and Live Well!

Have you ever heard of the Blue Zones (a few great videos here)? The Blue Zones are 5 locations where people live the longest in the world! I have often mentioned them during my classes and lectures, so it's about time I wrote a post! SO here's a bit about them:

Dan Buettner, along with National Geographic and others, set out to learn about the culture of the areas of the world that have the greatest number of centenarians (people who live to be at least 100 years old). Here six characteristics that tie these cultures together:

  • Mostly plant based whole foods! A lovely variety of colorful foods! Lots of beans and nuts!
  • Strong social (friend and family) relationships - the oldest people are most honored and valued!
  • Physically active, not "exercise", rather movement to live: building, gardening, stirring :)
  • Strong sense of purpose and handle stress well (I'll link here to Lisa Damour's take on resilience in Untangled, with the related post title "Family Dinner" which surely happens every night in all of the Blue Zones!)
  • Faith and faith-based communities
  • Health is contagious! as in you tend to have similar health outcomes with the friends and family with whom you spend your life.

BONUS: The Japanese, in particular, and perhaps others, have several methods to not eat too much: a) prepare everyone's plate, and put the rest away (rather than family style), b) use smaller plates, and c) aim for 80% full (they have a special name for this: "hari hachi bu").

This is cool one or more of these cultures, there is no word for "retired".

Today, Time had a great article highlighting the Blue Zones!

Here are three great lists of Benefits of Eating Less Meat, and Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat. You can use these resources to convince yourself or your loved ones to make a change, or pat yourself on the back for the great changes you have already made. Enjoy!

COMMENTS: which of the benefits most impact you? For me, I knew the health benefits, so it was when I was truly educated about the astounding environmental impact of this lifestyle change, that I decided I would use my power to help save the Earth!

BONUS RECIPE (because everyone loves recipes!):
Cocoa Balls!
1 c ground flax, 1 c walnuts, 1 c dates, 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 peanuts
Blend in food processor ~2 min, form dough into balls, and enjoy!
...similar to other recipes, but this is how I made them today :) OTHER FLAVORS

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ideas for Lent!

Another beautiful season of Lent is about to begin. If you haven't already decided what you will be doing to prepare for Easter, here are some ideas!

This little one loves to help, so she wants to make beds and take out trash for Lent.
Lenten Promise Ideas

Make a family dinner EVERY night. Unfortunately, I don't already do this, but fortunately for my family, this Lent I am going to go for it! You could aim to eat in 5 days per week, or make 2 dinners per week, or sit down to a family meal once per week.

Perform a random act of kindness daily, such as helping someone fill their trunk with groceries, holding a door open for a crowd, smiling and saying hello to a stranger, letting someone go in front of you in line, buying someone flowers, buying someone a treat, making something special for a friend or family member, doing an extra chore/errand and not saying you did, writing a letter or calling a loved one, taking a grocery cart to or from someone, shoveling a walk way, baking or cooking for someone. WRITE IN THE COMMENTS other ideas! Or share a story of what you have done - spread some good news!

Exercise every day, or every other day, anything you can commit to, that is more than you do now.

Give up alcohol for Lent, or on weekdays, or on weekends.

Give up refined sugar (this doesn't refer to whole fruit or whole grains!).

Give up...the internet, or texting, or youtube, or movies, or TV, or electronics in the evening, or turn off your phone for 2 hrs a day...any bit "off the grid" we can get will surely help us with our Lenten goals.

Commit to meeting one of your Dr Greger Daily Dozen Checklist items daily. For example, I will have flaxseed every day during Lent.

Drink 5 glasses of water every day during Lent.

Say the Rosary every day during Lent, or three days per week, or on Saturdays.

Prayerfully review your day with the Daily Examen from St Ignatius.

Go to Reconciliation each week during Lent, or once during Lent.

Do yoga for 10 minutes per day, or 2 classes per week, or once a week.

Sit quietly and just breathe for 5 minutes each morning.

Here are some other examples from a previous post: Other Lenten Ideas 

May God bless you today, and always!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Loads Dr Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist Recipes

Loads Dr Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist Recipes

Dr Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist is a wonderful tool that can quickly and easily help anyone get healthier!

After reading How Not to Die, I began focus even more on eating the foods recommended by nutrition research for optimal health. After a year or so, I started actually tracking my food intake with Dr. Greger's checklist. For the first few months of tracking, I averaged 20 out of 24 check marks, meaning that I was meeting most of my requirements, and eating healthier than ever before!

As soon as I saw my first 24 out of 24, I was hooked! So, from that day (11/01/17) forward, I decided to aim for 100%! Sometimes I have to complete my missing check marks before bed. My odd food combinations at the end of the day can be entertaining. Tonight, for example, I had a 1/2 c frozen cherries and 2-3 large leaves of kale (equivalent of 1 c raw), 1/4 c hummus, and some pistachios. For several months now, I have averaged 23 out of 24 check marks! Meeting the exercise requirement every single day is my biggest challenge, and slowly but surely, I am getting there! 

I LOVE that I am actually eating beans and greens EACH day, more fruits and vegetables than EVER before, and flaxseed and turmeric EVERY single day! Also, having some berries and nuts on a daily basis is exciting because these are foods I love and value, but couldn't say I definitely ate them daily in the past. My family is not quite getting all their daily check marks, but they are doing great, eating lots of beans and greens...mostly with smiles on their faces :). As time goes by, their intakes are improving as well!

So here are some recipes that can help YOU get YOUR check marks! Enjoy!

Recipes to Help YOU with YOUR Dr Greger Daily Dozen

Creamy Carrot or Cauliflower Soup
Madras Chili
Easy Egyptian Stew

Spicy Vodka Pasta
Meatless Meatballs
Cheesy, Meaty Lasagna
Oil-Free Bruschetta

Super Juice 
Mango Recovery Smoothie
5-Checkmark Spicy Ginger Latte (how could I forget?)
Snow Day Hot Cocoa
Power-Packed Ginger Ale

Cherry Lemon Bars
Orange Almond Biscotti Balls
Crunchy Pumpkin Spice Cookie Dough
Healthy Fudgy Brownies
Banana Bread


COMMENTS: Do you use a daily Dozen app? What check marks are hardest for you to get? Do your kids keep track? Have you made progress in your totals? What tricks do you have for getting everything in? Do you have the cookbook? What's your favorite recipe?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dr Greger's Daily Dozen App!

The Daily Dozen App!

This Android and iPhone app (or a simple handout I have prepared) encourages users to eat as much of their Daily Dozen as possible! I have tried to eat these foods ever since I read How Not To Die, as soon as it came out, in 2015. Even before that, we were all trying to eat our fruits and veggies, and eat our beans and greens and nuts and berries! However, this app increases intake more than abstract, lofty goals of eating healthier! See also, my SMART goals post, for help creating goals with which you can evaluate your progress and meet your challenges!

We have an opportunity to try to eat as many servings as possible from these wonderful food categories each day!

It's a very positive and motivating habit to keep!

Positive, because we don't get an X for eating a burger or a candy bar! We get credit for what we do eat, and no shame for eating an unhealthy food.

On Android, you can see your efforts over time by clicking on the small graph at the top, as well as see your "streak" for meeting the requirement in any food group. For example, I have had my serving of berries for the last 23 days!
Please email me if you want a PDF for the handout, since I cannot attach it here. I will send it right away!

Fun Fact: when helping a friend install the iPhone app, she said "wow! I've never seen an app get 5 stars!" I don't know how reliable this statement is, but she was very impressed with the score!

COMING SOON: Many Check Mark Recipes!

Added because, why not? Me and Dr Michael Greger, yeaah! And my friend,Theresa, aka "the local Dr Greger" :)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Amazing Weight Loss by an Amazing Person!

Amazing Weight Loss by an Amazing Person!

As you may know, I really try to focus on eating for health, energy, and longevity! However, many people need to lose weight. According to the CDC, more than 2 of 3 American adults are overweight, more than 1 in 3 are obese, and 1 in 3 American kids are overweight. Most weight loss efforts are unsuccessful because deprivation can't last. There is a solution!

I am so happy to share Heather Goodwin's AMAZING HEALTH and WEIGHT LOSS success story following the PLANT BASED WHOLE FOODS way of eating! As you'll see, she had tried everything, and this is the way of eating that finally works. She loves all the great doctors: GregerEsselstynCampbell (author of The China Study), Ornish, (clinician, researcher, and author), McDougall, and more, and attributes this final success to Chef AJ (FB page), a woman who is brilliant with healthy food in the kitchen!

Heather has "released" almost 300 pounds!

Now, sit back, and get ready to be awed and inspired by Heather's lovely story that she was kind enough to share :) 

At what age did you become overweight, and/or begin to stress about your weight?

I have always been fat, for as long as I can remember. I was a cute fat baby with rolls and a chubby adorable toddler, but by the time I got to elementary school I found out that being fat was not cute at all. I was teased and bullied, and went home and drowned my sorrows in baloney sandwiches and reruns of Gilligan’s Island. By the time I turned 11, my parents became alarmed that I was not “growing out of my baby fat” and they gave me my first diet book, Richard Simmon’s Never Say Diet. I was very motivated to try to take off weight by then and I read it cover to cover. I took off about 20 lbs, but they came back, and brought along a few friends. That was the beginning of my career as a lifelong yo-yo dieter.

Briefly, what other methods of getting healthier or losing weight did you try? How has this experience been different?

For every crazy way that exists to take off weight, I have most likely tried it. I tried diet pills (including risking my life taking Fen-Phen) Atkins, Weight Watchers, TOPS, Deal and Meal, the Cabbage Soup Diet, counting calories, counting fat grams, counting carbs, and counting myself as a failure every time I would not be able to stay on my “plan”. They all insisted they were not diets, but “lifestyles”.  The difference this time is that I am happy and satisfied and eating highly nutritious food, so that I CAN actually stay on this way of eating, which truly is a new lifestyle for me.

How did you first come across or get introduced to this way of eating?

Back in college, I was introduced to John Robbin’s excellent book, Diet for a New America. That book changed my life in many ways as I was first exposed to the cruelty of animal agriculture and the lies of the meat, dairy, and egg industries lobbying boards. At that time, I decided I wanted no part of it, and became a vegetarian. Sadly, even with that knowledge and my deep desire to be a plant-based eater, I was so addicted to fast food, sugar, and processed food that I eventually went back to eating the standard American diet and felt a lot of guilt and shame from not eating in a way that was in integrity with my values.

Yes, guilt is definitely a negative emotion that pops into my mind about food. Based on your experience, what insight do you have about guilt?

I feel bad about how I ate in the past, and the harm to animals and to the planet that I participated in. I also feel really guilty about feeding my kids junk all those years and not being capable of being the mom they deserved. I have learned that I need to let go of that, though, to move on and make progress in life. We can never go back, only forward, and strive to constantly improve.

How long have you been on your whole foods journey, and what finally inspired you to try it?

After becoming a vegetarian in college briefly, I never stopped believing that a plant-based diet was the optimal diet for both health and for the planet and for the animals. I read a lot of plant-based doctor’s books, most notably Dr. Dean Ornish’s book, Eat More, Weigh Less. I went plant-based several times, but always relapsed back to my old habits after a while. I have never stopped trying to control my weight since that first diet at age 11. I have taken off between 40-80 lbs at least 20 different times, and this is my third time of taking off more than 100 lbs! I was such a compulsive eater that I could never stick with it long enough to get all the weight off. In 2009, a friend invited me to a raw vegan restaurant. I admit, it sounded horrible to me. I secretly planned a fast-food binge for after our meeting. But when I tasted the food, it was incredibly delicious. I actually sobbed on the way home because it was so good, I thought, “I could do this! I could go vegan for good and stick to this!” And I did go raw vegan, and then “fully raw” for about 15 months. I took off 140 lbs. But, because I was eating a very high fat, “gourmet” version of raw vegan, I eventually stopped taking off weight eating that way, and even regained almost half of what I had worked so hard to take off. That is when I started my YouTube channel, to get support to get back on track. And through my channel, I found out about Chef AJ and joined her Ultimate Weight Loss Program and found the method that finally has worked best for me as a severe food addict.

What are a handful of your guiding principles to your eating habits?

I eat only whole, plant-based foods, with no oil, and no processed food at all. I eat a ton of salad and leafy greens, pounds of steamed vegetables and fruit, and healthy starches like beans, brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. Chef AJ teaches us to “get off the SOFAS” which stands for no sugar (or sugar substitutes), oil, flour, alcohol, or salt. I admit that I have not managed to get rid of salt entirely, but I have greatly reduced the amount I use. I believe that food is medicine and eating this way, I get to eat a lot and still have taken off close to 300 lbs!

I think I know the answer to this question, but who is your favorite nutrition teacher?

Of course I am going to say Chef AJ, who has been not only my teacher, but also a treasured friend, mentor, and pretty much an angel to me.

Would you share other helpful influences, authors, books, movies, that especially keep you going, nutritional, or other?

I have deep respect for all of the plant-based medicine doctors whose books have guided my steps away from the grave where I was headed. I especially admire Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. McDougall, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. sselstyn...ok, I admire them all! I’m a Plant-Based Medicine doctor groupie! The China Study changed my life, as well as the movie Forks Over Knives and so many others. I make it a point to immerse myself in plant-based medicine books, movies, and YouTube channels, as well as unprocessed vegan food blogs and Facebook groups. I feel that inspiration and motivation is like washing, even if you did it yesterday, you have to do it afresh every day.

Heather has "released" almost 300 pounds!
What are a few of your favorite food tips, practical and/or habitual?

I eat a lot of vegetables--a lot! I fill up on salad and raw and cooked vegetables and then I eat some healthy starch for satiety. I have learned to “start my day in a savory way” as Chef AJ teaches because the phytonutrients in greens and vegetables help to fight cravings for sugar and junk. I have also chosen to treat abstinence from animal foods, processed junk, sugar, flour, and oil much like an alcoholic abstains completely from alcohol--I never make exceptions. I would rather be completely free of it than be pulled back into the hell of morbid obesity and sickness and feeling trapped in my own body. It’s a small price to pay for the new life that I have now.

What are some steps to receive the support you need from your family, physician, workplace, and others, to achieve success?

I am very lucky because my grown children have been incredibly supportive. My advice is to ask your family directly for their support and let them know how important this is to you and how much it would mean to you. That’s what I did and I could not have asked for more supportive, loving response from them. My doctors have been great too, encouraging my efforts as they saw the dramatic improvements in my health and well-being. I think a great source of support is in social media, with the excellent Facebook groups, YouTube channels, and plant-based food blogs, and those are available to you no matter where you are in the world.

What has changed, physically/emotionally/socially? Did you stop taking meds? What benefits are you feeling?

Oh my goodness. When I started my journey, I was a very sick woman. I weighed 436 lbs, and had a BMI of almost 80!  (For reference, a “normal” BMI for a woman would be under 25.) I had a host of health problems: high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, asthma, apnea, migraines, acne, eczema, and most especially, debilitating pain. I was in a huge amount of pain at all times, especially in my hips, back, knees and feet. I didn’t have a good night’s sleep in over 5 yrs because the pressure from lying in one position for more than an hour or so was unbearable. I could not stand more than 5 minutes and could only walk about 50 meters without wheezing and turning red faced and sweaty. I felt like I was a prisoner in my own body and that I was dying. Worst of all, I felt like it was all my fault and I did not deserve anyone’s help or compassion. Compare that to today: I have taken off over 288 lbs and am only 12 lbs from my goal weight. I take NO medications (I used to take 10! For various ailments, 3 for blood pressure alone.) I no longer have ANY of those health conditions: asthma? Gone. Same with sleep apnea, acne, eczema, pain...all completely resolved. And now I regularly walk 5-7 miles a day and love being active and pain free. I truly feel like I have a new lease on life and am having so much fun traveling and doing fun things with my kids. We recently took a trip and hiked all around Crater Lake and did some very challenging hikes. None of that would have been possible if I had not found a plant-based diet.

Assuming you thought those things would happen, what are some unexpected benefits/changes?

I could not have ever dreamed of how lovely and supportive the plant-based food community would be to me! I have received so much information, encouragement, and made so many friends. This community has added so much to my life.

Have there been any unexpected hurdles?

I have had a few times when I relapsed, and the worst one resulted in my putting back on 60 lbs! Fortunately, I have since removed that weight again, but it taught me that no matter how long you have been fighting food addiction, you can never let your guard down. The only bite I can say “no” to is the first bite; after that, the addiction is in control. I stay very strong in my resolve so that I will never go back to that sick and sad person I was who felt so hopeless and trapped.

Looking back to when you started your journey, where did you think it would take you?

Being very honest, I didn’t think that I could stick to it. Look, I am a repeat offender, I failed over and over every time I tried, and each time the weight came back on even more. The thing that made this different was that I made a promise to my mother. She was at the end of her life, and I was living with her as her caregiver. I was, once again, embarking on another attempt at a plant-based diet, and once again, struggling. She pulled me aside and said, “Heather, I love you so much. Soon, I am not going to be here to take care of you. You are doing so well right now. I need you to promise me that you are going to take care of yourself and not fall apart when I’m gone.” I fell into my mom’s soft hug and sobbed and promised her, no matter what, I would never give up trying to restore my health and my life. I still didn’t know how I could ever overcome my compulsions and stick to a plan long enough to accomplish it. I just knew that I had to persevere and keep that promise no matter how many times I fell. And in that way, the woman who gave me life, also saved it. I am eternally grateful to her.

Surely, you have helped countless people on their mission to get healthier! Was this your motivation, regarding keeping and sharing your videos?

The reason I started my YouTube channel was for accountability and support. I knew, if I had to come on and make a video every week and tell the entire internet what I weighed, that I would be way too embarrassed to keep messing up. And it totally worked! I was able to take off weight, week after week, with much less relapse and more consistency. Later, I got such wonderful comments and support that I wanted to connect with my viewers, whom I now considered my friends, in a much deeper and consistent way, so I also started a Facebook group so that we could do that.

Who or what motivates you today, and why?

I feel that self-care is the ultimate way of taking care of your family. I love my kids like crazy and I don’t want them to be tied down, taking care of a mom who didn’t take care of herself. I watched my parents go through horrible diseases that were largely a result of lifestyle choices and high meat/fat diets. My poor mom had both legs amputated and had to be a wheelchair and endured horrible kidney dialysis. My father suffered terribly with MS and ended up penniless, in a care home he hated, instead of living the wonderful life he dreamed of and worked so hard for. To honor them, I want my destiny to be the total opposite of that, and to thrive into my old age. The choices I make today are my investment in that future.

What else would you like to share with readers?

No matter how many times you have tried and fallen, I want to tell you that there is always hope. It is possible! Start today. Any tiny step in the right direction will bring you one step closer to your goal. Take it one day at a time, and get support. Believe in yourself and put all your effort on maintaining a mindset that no matter what, you will stay on your plan and be consistent. Before you know it, you will be inspiring others and helping them to save their lives, too.

Thank you, Heather, for your honesty, heart, faith, and inspiration! You are truly amazing! I know people will want to connect with you and join in the Butterfly Effect Community, so here are some ways:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Peanut Butter Banana Crunch Breakfast Cookies

These slightly updated cookies are yum! These give you 5 ticks off your Dr Greger Daily Dozen Checklist! You've got fruit, whole grain, flax, nuts/seeds, and cinnamon, so you've got spice! These are a great recipe for kids to make!

These cookies are awesome! The dough is also sweetly delicious straight from the bowl! This recipe came about when my three kiddos came storming at me wanting to bake cookies! That first time I only approved and suggested ingredients to add, and it was a pretty perfect combination! We've made these cookies countless times since. You probably can't go wrong if you include each of these ingredients, and the proportions below definitely work well!

Peanut Butter Banana Crunch Breakfast Cookies

1 c old-fashioned rolled oats
4 ripe bananas
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/4 c chia seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c natural peanut butter (believe it or not, this is actually optional)
~You could also add lots of unsweetened cocoa, which you might not even taste, but it adds more nutrition!

Mix everything up in one bowl, making sure to mash the bananas. Spoon dough onto cookie sheets. I use a silicone sheet over a thin metal baking sheet. You want to spread and flatten dough spoonfuls to about a half inch or less thick. They won't change shape while baking. Small cookies are good, so you have a lot of browning and crispiness on the edges. I bake them in a preheated convection oven at 375 degrees, for ~15-20 min.  SO in a conventional oven, 400 degrees for closer to 20-25 min should be right :)


After you get the cookies in the oven, watch What the Health!

Watch on Netflix now!

Peanut Butter Banana Crunch Breakfast Cookies

1 c old-fashioned rolled oats
4 ripe bananas
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/4 c chia seeds
1/3 c Grape Nuts* (they add an awesome tiny crunch!)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c natural peanut butter

*The Grape Nuts (or Trader Joe/Whole Foods Market alternative) are totally optional, as they contain a bit of sugar and salt in their ingredients, though there is only a 1/3 c in the recipe, which makes a lot of cookies. 


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