Sunday, November 27, 2011

Larabars Rule!


Larabars are an amazing treat! I cannot say enough about these bars! They are jam-packed with nutrients and made completely from whole foods (fruit, nuts, and spices)! Most Larabars usually have an ingredients list you can usually count on one hand!

There are no preservatives, chemicals, artificial flavors, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or anything other junky ingredients.

The cool part is that they are super-yummy and satisfying! It is hard to decide a favorite since they are all so delicious! I first found them at Costco, which is always impressing me with it's nutritious selection...though there are not available at Costco currently, unfortunately.

Ok, so Larabars are such a refreshing find! They are a convenient snack that you can keep with you where ever you go. They are high in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber! They're hip and trendy and mouth-watering!

Try one today and I promise you will not be disappointed! Ok, so if I have to pick, my favorite of the day is Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte! By the way, if you have a little time, and want to keep your money in your pocket book -- make them at home! Super easy and fun for kids! Here are a few recipes you can try! No-Bake Carrot Cake, Skinny Mints, PB&J Poppers.  Plus, a whole post called Learn about LARABALLS!

By the way, happily, today Larabars are widely available. Try some different flavors and try to pick a favorite! Then go to amazon.com's Subscribe and Save to buy a case, for less than anywhere I have ever seen! The www.amazon.com price is less than you can find locally, and then Subscribe & Save is an additional 15% discount. As soon as your order arrives, you may cancel your subscription with a quick click.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK? -- Tell me, in a comment below, have you ever tried to copy a food product you usually buy from the store or a meal from a restaurant?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creamy, Refreshing Carrot Soup



Creamy, Refreshing Carrot Soup
3 lb carrots, peeled, boiled in 3 quarts of water
1 c Old fashioned oats, cook with carrots
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp Indian spice mix (Sabji Masala) …you could try allspice, pumpkin pie spice, or curry
¼ tsp cinnamon
plain, non-dairy yogurt (optional)
Experiment with quantities of spices to make it just right for you!

Let the carrots and oats cook for 20-30 minutes, the longer it boils will just thicken the soup. Combine carrots, oats, water remaining, lemon juice, and spices in a blender, and blend until creamy. It should be ready in a quick minute or two! Yum! Add a dollop of plain yogurt on top!

I recommend buying a nice Indian spice mix from a local Indian food store. Lakshmi Plaza is a great one in Mayfield Heights (5888 Mayfield Road).

This particular mix contains: coriander, cumin, chilli, tumeric, black pepper, cloves, fenugreek leaves, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom , cinnamon, bay leave, pulse, fennel, caraway, mustard, garlic, onion, cardamom green, and asafoetida.

Indian spices offer a variety of anti-inflammatory and delicious spices. They are sometimes particularly expensive, and the shear variety of spices would cost a bit to purchase.

This recipe was inspired from a guest's recipe on the Dr Oz Show. It was a great recipe -- I just simplified, decreasing some of the ingredients and work. It was after all a great recipe!

In case you want a carrot dessert, after your carrot soup, try these No-Bake Carrot Cakes!

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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Tell me in a comment below: Do you like Indian food? What is your favorite dish? Do you cook it at home? Did you have it as a child?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Get Happy!


Here are some great tips to get you out of your funk before the holidays! Pick what sounds most practical possible for you :)

1. Eliminate caffeine -- if you are addicted, it can really have an effect on your mood.

2. Cut out packaged foods -- these cause inflammation, and new research indicates that inflammation and depression are closely linked.

3. Take fish oil, vitamin D, and a multivitamin. Omega-3 in fish oil are building blocks for your brain, vitamin D deficiency causes depression and even psychosis, and a multivitamin is especially helpful in providing B-vitamins so key to neural health.

4. Turn off your cell phone and computer at 8pm each night. Our electronic world is decreasing our social interactions, those of actually touching and talking with people in person. Having strong relationships, with friends especially, is key to happiness.

5. EXERCISE IS AT LEAST AS EFFECTIVE AS ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS, without the side effects, well negative side effects anyway!

6. Gratitude (posting things that I am grateful for daily this month have been a great little part of my day!), forgiveness, and volunteering are also very effective in increasing the satisfaction in your life!
HERE is a link to 7 Benefits of Gratitude!

Dr Weil was a guest on the Dr Oz Show and explained a lot of this and he even has a new book, Spontaneous Happiness, which I've only just heard about, but seems like a wonderful resource!

How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky is another book that I did read which may be very similar, and since it is older, may be easier to check out from the library.

I also really enjoyed Stumbling on Happiness, in which Daniel Gilbert describes research about happiness, or rather life satisfaction.

I also really thought Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar was cool because it provided sort of a workbook format of steps for you to take toward a happier you! Tal's is a cool story -- he taught a class at Harvard (on which his book is based) for the first time with a handful of kids, and it pretty immediately became the most popular Harvard course of all time!

I find all of this pretty amazing. It's not that I have really battled depression through my life, rather I am luckily pretty satisfied with my life and it seems unfair that not everyone feels like I feel. These books make it clear that YOU can DO things to become HAPPIER!

I question whether a severely depressed person could take the time to get through a book and its steps, but it sure beats taking medications. It's fascinating that some of these techniques are in fact as, or more effective than drugs. I implore you to try just one thing and see what happens!

Be sure not to stop taking any medications without first speaking with your physician.

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You might also enjoy another post which includes a video by Tal.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Tell me in a comment below: what do you do to get happier? Does it help? What works best for you?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Take a Seat and Build Up Your Bones!


Do you know which bone breaks the most in people younger than age 75? The wrist! So, next time you watch a movie, strengthen your wrist muscles, and therefore wrist bones with the following exercises.
In addition to injury prevention, strong wrists can help you firmly shake hands, open tight jars, and improve your softball swing! These exercises may also decrease arthritic joint stiffness.
Try 10 repetitions of each of these exercises today! Work up to 3 sets as you become familiar and stronger!
Tennis Ball Squeezes – squeeze the ball or some modeling clay as hard as possible for 5 seconds and release.
Wrist Curls – while seated, place your forearms on your thighs, with wrists hanging off past your knees, palms down, and lift up a wrench or can of beans and lower it back down slowly. You can flip your hands over to repeat the exercise with palms up to curl toward you.
Chinese Hand Ball Exercises – simply roll the balls around in your hand. In addition to increasing strength and circulation in the wrist, hands, and fingers, this exercise also improves dexterity and is great for relaxation!
Chair Lift – while seated at the edge of your chair, place hands at your sides, palms down on the chair, lean forward slightly, and lift your hips off the chair, lower back down slowly.
Begin cautiously, remember to breath, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and have fun!
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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Tell me in a comment, have you ever broken a bone? Which bone? How did you brake it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

No-Bake Carrot Cake!



Per request :) Plus, I gave one of these to a guy on an airplane and he said they were "FANTASTIC!" ...he also said he hadn't had breakfast; but hey, these could be your breakfast! They are nutritious and filling, and easy to bring with you where ever you go!

No-Bake Carrot Cake
1/3 c almonds
1/3 c walnuts
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c pitted dates
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp allspice
1/2 to 1 tsp unsweetened coconut
1 Tbsp pineapple juice (I use from canned pineapple in juice)
1/2 carrot (3-4 baby carrots)

Simply blend all ingredients in a food processor until they stick together like a gooey dough. You can leave a bit CHUNKY to better resemble carrot cake! Then you can put the whole dough ball into a resealable bag and make them into balls without getting gooey hands; one inch diameter works well. We keep refrigerated, though this probably isn't necessary. Freezing works really well too! Enjoy!

You can also try Skinny Mints (chocolate-mint Laraballs...like Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies) and PB&J Poppers!

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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Tell me in a comment below: Do you talk to strangers on airplanes? Has anyone ever offered YOU food? Would you eat it?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Save Money and Boost Your Nutrition


Follow a few simple steps to feel better on your next vacation! Also, you'll have some extra money and calories you can spend on yummy treats! It's all about packing a simple lunch and some snacks.

Pack your favorite nuts, and perhaps Larabars, from home.  They won't get squashed or need immediate refrigeration, they're less expensive at your local grocery store, and they'll also be great to have WHILE you travel to your destination -- for the car, airport, and airplane!

When you arrive, head to a grocery store to buy a case of bottled water, a big jar of natural peanut butter, and a couple loaves of whole wheat bread. You'll probably want some plastic sandwich bags too. Then, each morning, make some sandwiches to pack along with plenty of water each day you head out while vacationing, and bring your nuts.  Also grab some apples, oranges, and/or bananas from breakfast, for the day!

When we're hungry, out on vacation (or anywhere for that matter), our bodies get a natural sense of "I NEED FOOD!" and all sense about the cost, in dollars and cents, as well as nutritionally, goes out the door. Avoid this by following our little plan.

After you and your family have had a healthy sandwich, everyone will be less irritable and hungry, and have more energy! Then, knowing you've saved some money and earned some healthy nutrition points, you can splurge on a yummy treat, or even a meal that you'll really enjoy!

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WHAT DO YOU THINK? What foods and snacks do you bring/pack for trips?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spice up Your Morning!

Here is a quick and delicious option to add protein, fiber, and cayenne pepper to your day first thing! Weight loss helpers! Tofu is an awesome protein source to start your day! Additionally, cayenne pepper has been shown to speed metabolism!

Refreshing "Egg" Wraps (Tofu Scramble)

3/4 c tofu, mashed with a fork
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 c salsa (experiment with quantities per your spice-meter)
1 whole wheat tortilla

Mix the ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. Heat for 1-2 min. Fill tortilla with mixture, roll up, and enjoy! Great with a side of fresh fruit! It's surprising how much salsa you can add without it being too spicy.

Salsa is a great way to add veggies, cooked tomatoes for lycopene (cancer prevention, especially prostate), and hot peppers for capsaicin (speeds up metabolism and decreases appetite)!

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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Tell me in a comment below: What foods seem to be good for you one day and bad for you the next? For example, how eggs have gone in and out of the spotlight.

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