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 :)

#3 We can BECOME MORE RESILIENT!
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!

PB&J Poppers REVISED*

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
Avocado

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 ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

4-Ingredient Banana Breakfast Cookies

These nut-free delights are so simple to make, and you'll never again have to throw away an overripe banana!




Nut-Free Banana Breakfast Cookies

6 small bananas (or 4-5 large bananas)
2 c rolled oats
3/4 c ground flaxseed
2 Tbsp cinnamon
Optional: semi-sweet chocolate chips (cookies in this pic were a treat for a family weekend away to the Chicago Marathon!...though only a few were left by the time we drove off!)

Mash bananas and combine all ingredients. Scoop onto baking sheet and cook at 350 degree for about 20 minutes, until cookies are golden.

These are great for a snack any time of day, and certainly fitting for breakfast! Here is a crunchy peanut butter version :)

Watch Flaxseed and Breast Cancer to learn about why these breakfast cookies, specifically the ground flaxseed they contain, may REDUCE tumor growth in patients with breast cancer AS WELL AS currently used breast cancer drugs.

Ground flaxseed is a nutritionally-awesome and effective baking substitution for EGGS! Why substitute eggs? Unfortunately, they do us more harm than good. While there are lots of reasons for this, let's just take a look at Dr Michael Greger's article: Why the Egg-Cancer Link? ( For more on Greger see This Dude is Awesome!)



Enjoy, and have a great week, everybody!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

3-Ingredient Pecan Pie Bites!


I have now made these Snickerdoodle Laraballs (or No-Bake Cinnamon Pecan Pie Bites) several times in the last week or so. I just can't get enough, which is ok since they are super-healthy! I hope you LOVE them too!

ALL YOU NEED:

1 c PECANS
1/2 c DATES (10 pieces)
1 Tbsp CINNAMON
1 tsp water (maybe)
I usually TRIPLE this recipe!

Blend everything in your food processor for a few minutes, until the dough begins to fall away from the outside walls. You may add a splash of water (not a lot!) to help bind the dough. Form dough into balls (or bars or whatever shape you like) and viola! I always put my dough into a large plastic bag and form balls from the outside of the bag (I don't like food hands!).

This mixture is super tasty in my Cheerios and almond milk breakfast! It's like the Apple Cinnamon Cheerios I ate as a kid, or just like when I added cinnamon sugar to cereal, back in the day. Only this mixture is so much healthier, adding vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and best of all, yumminess!

As with all Laraballs (lots of yummy flavors at bottom of this link), there is no gluten, dairy, sugar, butter, or oil, so they are truly a guilt-free pleasure. I don't think anyone should ever feel GUILT about food, and, most of the time, I enjoy practicing what I preach about this :).



After I made them, I remembered a delicious recipe I made, and loved, from Melissa's My Whole Food Life, No-Bake Snickerdoodles. Her recipe is similar, and also very tasty!

COMMENTS: What healthy options do you make that remind you of something you ate when you were a kid? And who else likes (or ever liked) Apple Cinnamon Cheerios? Happy Lunar Eclipse! Did anybody see it? My family tried, but I guess it was too cloudy :(

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mesothelioma Awareness Day!



This beautiful woman is Heather Von St James, and her daughter. Heather approached me about sharing her story and helping her with her mission. She was pregnant, given 15 months to live, and eventually SURVIVED!



Mesothelioma is a rare and preventable cancer caused only by asbestos exposure. Heather Von St James survived this terrible disease and has now taken on as her life mission to spread the word and perhaps even eventually eliminate this disease! She has a wonderful website with loads of helpful information, as well as loving support! Read more here: Mesothelioma and pass it on because knowledge is power!

Also see this one-page handout with ASBESTOS Facts and MESOTHELIOMA Facts.

God bless you, Heather! I love your beautiful attitude and smile! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I wish you will find the miracles in your own life :)

For another great attitude and smile, check out this Apollos Hester! Texas High School Football Player, Apollos Hester, Gives Epic Motivational Speech


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