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 off 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 walnuts
1/4 c 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 :)

UPDATE: my family used to occasionally enjoy EGGS (danger of eggs), among other animal-foods, as a treat. However, we ate those things because they tasted good, NOT for any nutritional benefits.

I AM VEGAN, and my family is ALMOST kids are "allowed" to eat whatever they want (well, that's hardly the case...but they are "allowed" to have meat or cheese if they want, though they freely choose not to because I educate them about all the reasons to eat healthy). My husband and kids eat desserts and ice cream which probably contain animal foods, but these are occasional treats. Anyway...

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

Super-Easy Vegetarian Chili

1 red onion, chopped
1-2 bell peppers, chopped (or 1 lb frozen)
5 c tomatoes, crushed
1 lb frozen corn
2-4 cans (3-6 c) kidney beans, rinsed and drained (any type of beans work great!)
Consider using DRIED BEANS
Chili powder*, to taste, add generously because of large food volume

Saute onion and peppers in water. Next, 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!

Instapot instructions: After sauteing onions and peppers (extra tasty, but not necessary), add all ingredients to Instapot, and set to MANUAL for 6 min!

Top with avocado slices (if you're used to sour cream, try plain, dairy-free yogurt, and see if anyone even notices!).

*OR 1 Tbsp each of cumin, garlic, and oregano, and 1 tsp cayenne pepper (as little as a dash of cayenne if you don't like spicy).

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!


2/3 c PECANS*
1/2 c DATES (10 pieces)

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. 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!).

*Toasting is a great addition! Toast pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet at about 400 for about 8 min. Watch closely, let them darken, taste for doneness, they should sizzle when you bite!

This mixture is super tasty with cereal and almond milk for breakfast! It's like the Apple Cinnamon Cheerios I ate as a kid, or just like when I added cinnamon sugar to cereal, another childhood memory. 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 had made and loved from Melissa's My Whole Food Life, No-Bake Snickerdoodles. Her recipe is 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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wish Others Well :)

Today I'm sharing a simple concept: Wish others well!

Have you ever wanted to stop judging others (or yourself!), be less of a complainer, or be less negative?

This is a simple thought you can think of about others, seems to make it impossible to feel these negative emotions! Try it today :)

It's like the modern goodbye greeting some people use today "Best", or as one friend always signs off  her emails "Be well".

Julian Treasure gave an interesting TED Talk entitled "How to Talk So People Will Listen". Julian suggests this way, WISH OTHERS WELL, will help us avoid some gossiping, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, exaggeration (lying), dogmatism (bombard others with opinions as if they are true).

I really love this simple concept, and love the opportunity to give this simple gift of WISHING OTHERS WELL all day long :) Happy weekend everybody!

Also, for some weekend smiles, a few quick videos:

Back to School: Family Gives Sir Mix-a-Lot a Back-to-School Twist with 'Baby Got Class' (I've watched this several times for many laughs :)

My ALS Challenge:

If you haven't done it yet, consider yourself challenged, and go for it! I love the power of this creative idea :)

Last is a video that still gives a great picture of Girls on the Run:

Girls on the Run is an awesome organization that I am about to begin a program with, on Monday, for 11 excited girls! I am also raising money for this group, running the Cleveland Classic Half Marathon in November. Any amount you can share would be greatly appreciated!! THANK YOU!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Awesome Running Fuel from Costco!

50 days until the Chicago Marathon, baby!

SO I'm sharing a product that's been my staple fuel during my long runs all summer, as well as another awesome product that I also often bring along, and enjoy.

Nature's Finest: Mandarin Dried Fruit and Mamma Chia: Chia Squeeze Vitality Snack
These dried oranges are wonderful! Coated in sugar (long distance running is the perfect time to indulge in sugar!), they are a perfect combination of sweet and tangy! They are almost like a traditional sport gel inside the white flesh of the orange pieces, only without causing belly aches or unnatural aftertaste. Note: I eat plenty of fiber; if you do not, this or the next item may not be the best running fuel choices for you.

The other product is like other fruit squeezers I've suggested before, except this one wisely added CHIA seeds to it's mixture! Brilliant! Chia is perfect for such a mixture! Chia is perfect for fueling modern day long distance runners just like it does for the Tarahumara Indians.

Tarahumara Indians from deep in the mountains of Mexico
The Tarahumara love CHIA and BAREFOOT RUNNING, and so do I. Born to Run, by Chris McDoughall, is a fascinating book that convinced me to try both!

P.S. I buy the oranges and the squeezers from COSTCO. I HEART Costco.

Happy weekend (and maybe long run) to ya!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

tiny magical goals :)

Tiny magical goals

When my dentist cheered "Your gums look really good!", I wanted share with you all how it happened! I learned about changing tiny habits from this fabulous TEDx talk by BJ Fogg, a social scientist from Stanford University:


He says we can very easily make very small changes that will stick. Small changes add up to large changes. Just like every body of water starts with just one drop! It reminds me of some effective workout goals: dress in your workout clothes, or step outside to your sidewalk or drive to the gym. The rest of the workout happens without much notice!

So, here is one of BJ's first examples. I tried it and with very little effort, I had amazing results! Begin flossing just one tooth each time you brush your teeth. After you do it, you must celebrate. The positive emotion will help your brain remember.

BJ shares another personal example about pushups. BJ wanted to start doing push-ups throughout the day. So he began doing two push-ups each time he peed. After a while, he added another pushup, then another until, he was doing around seven push-ups per pee. Now BJ does quite a lot of push-ups each day, with very little effort. I will try this next!


The way I see it, you need a TRIGGER, a SIMPLE habit, and a CELEBRATION.

1.A "trigger" is something that you ALREADY do (pee, brush teeth, etc.) which will remind you to do your NEW SIMPLE HABIT.

2.The SIMPLE HABIT needs to be TINY, as in one tooth or one minute or one pushup.*   Here are many examples of tiny habits you may want to try!

3.Finally, you must CELEBRATE! This need not be extravagant. An audible "Awesome!", a fist in the air, or a "Yessss!" will all work. Plus, some great ways to celebrate from BJ Fogg!

Years ago, I abandoned regular floss for the ease of a REACH flosser. By BJ’s FOGG Method, within a week or two, I accomplished regular flossing without even consciously deciding to make it a goal! Suddenly, I am flossing the old fashioned way, TWICE a day!, and it is no burden at all! 

Next up for me are push-ups, and the possibilities are ENDLESS!

BJ offers a FREE 5-day program EVERY WEEK to anyone interested: the Tiny Habits Program to make the process even easier! Sign up by any Friday, to begin on the following Monday, to get email updates and advice as you quickly ingrain awesome new habits!

*BJ also discusses the importance of choosing the best tiny habit by considering MOTIVATION (your reasons for doing your habit) and ABILITY (for example, if you want to do pushups, but you cannot physically do one yet, success is unlikely). One other important factor BJ suggests is to get SPECIFIC...always important with SMART goal setting!


What are you going to try? How will you celebrate? I absolutely love this idea, process, that a program is offered to help, and how well it works!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easiest Couscous Preparation!

Couscous must be the fastest grain to make, and now it's even faster! Try this:

Boil a kettle of water. Combine 1 part couscous and 1.5 parts boiling water IN your serving bowl, or for a single serving, in the bowl you will eat from! Cover with a plate, wait 3 minutes, and FLUFFY COUSCOUS!

Tomato Chickpea Pesto Salad
Whole Wheat Couscous Chickpea Pesto Salad

Tomato Chickpea Pesto Couscous Salad

1/2 c whole wheat couscous
3/4 c boiling water
1 fresh tomato, chopped (medium to large tomato)
3/4 c chickpeas, (canned is convenient, dried are better -- I made a bunch yesterday!)
~2 Tbsp pesto (I used this leftover from this recipe)

Prepare couscous as described above, chop tomatoes while you wait, mix everything together, and enjoy!

Can't go wrong with beans and fresh tomatoes!
Couscous with no pan!

Cut tomatoes with my ceramic knife -- mine is from Victorian, and I love it; here are others
Fresh pesto is delightful, easy, and cheap!


COMMENTS: This was so good that I ate my bowl right up, probably too fast, and then proceeded to make a whole new bowl, and finish it too! That's how FAST AND YUMMY it is! What are your favorite quickest meals to make?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Apricot Marmalade Sweetness

This idea came to me when I was teaching a nutrition and wellness class several months ago. It took me until now to try this simple, delicious, and healthy idea! I really think these proportions came out just right. Still, it's very sweet, so if you find it's too much for you, add lemon juice.

Non-Cook Apricot Marmalade

2 c unsweetened dried apricots
1 c water
1/8 c lemon juice or the juice of half a lemon, optional
1/4 c chia seeds

Blend for just a minute or so to desired consistency, and enjoy!

Some cranberry or orange peel would probably be tasty!

How cute are these Triscuit Minis?! My kids love them :)

This spread would be great on Ezekiel Bread or on or in pancakes!

Friday, February 21, 2014

56 3-Word Bits to Improve Your Life and Make You Smile :)

John Tesh posed the simple question: In 3 words, what advice would you give your younger self?

Photo from John Tesh's Facebook page :)

SO inspiring, that I wanted to share a few (just 56 out of the 600 or so I read!)! 

  1. Relax more.
  2. Save your money.
  3. Trust your gut.
  4. Get a hobby.
  5. Let it go.
  6. Parents were right.
  7. Enjoy the moment.
  8. Get exercise routine.
  9. Put God first.
  10. Don't be afraid.
  11. Just say no.
  12. Go for it!
  13. Practice gratitude daily.
  14. Do not settle.
  15. Be kind.
  16. Don't judge.
  17. Stop stressing out.
  18. Love yourself.
  19. Take your time.
  20. Ask more questions.
  21. Stop worrying.
  22. You'll be okay.
  23. Be more confident.
  24. Ask God first.
  25. Follow your dreams.
  26. Think before speaking.
  27. Nurture your creativity.
  28. You are enough.
  29. Forgive and forget.
  30. Travel, learn, DO!
  31. Choose your battles.
  32. Collect less.
  33. Floss your teeth.
  34. Stay in school.
  35. Take that trip!
  36. Pay it forward.
  37. Love your job!
  38. Be not ashamed.
  39. Run, run, run!
  40. Follow your heart.
  41. Keep a diary.
  42. Learn from mistakes.
  43. Find the humour.
  44. Count your blessings.
  45. Find your passion.
  46. Live your passion.
  47. Get more sleep.
  48. Never stop reading.
  49. Carpe diem!
  50. Be open-minded.
  51. Nothing is impossible.
  52. Be at peace.
  53. Never lose hope.
  54. Family is forever.
  55. Take deep breaths.
  56. Laugh more often.
COMMENTS: Now it's your turn.  In 3 words, what advice would you give your younger self?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Crazy Cool Costco Catches

Costco could probably keep my family happily fed, and nourished with just these few favorites!

Organic frozen raspberries

These are one of the most delightful foods in my whole world!  A bowl of these berries is a wonderful dessert, with a happy aftertaste and after-feel (like no bellyaches or yucky feelings).  They just melt in my mouth!

Organic frozen broccoli

A pound or two each day has become a staple for my family.  We all happily eat them up each night for a powerful daily dose of cancer prevention and we love it!

Organic Garofolo whole wheat pasta

I normally get WHOLE WHEAT pasta from Costco, and ORGANIC whole wheat pasta from Trader Joe's. Now, I can have ORGANIC WHOLE WHEAT pasta from Costco, for $1.30/lb!  It tastes great too!  Here are some yummy pasta alternates and recipes!

Unsalted cashews

These are delicious! I do enjoy salted cashews, but after a bite or two, that saltiness is too much for me, and it makes stinginess on my lips, and of course who needs all that sodium?!  Try some Cashew Cookie Laraballs or Tasty Tofu Stir-Fry or Lemon Bar Laraballs or or some Morning Power Smoothie!

Hass Avocados

Avocados are such a favorite that I must give them a quick shout out!  Just remember to buy them hard, set them out until softened, but still firm, and then refrigerate them until you are ready for their delightfulness!  Some avocado recipes are here (don't mind the posts without avocado recipes).

Deglet Noor Dates (restocked after a long wait...again!)

This is the ultimate sweetness!  Fiber, no refining, no artificial sweeteners, AND this particular brand is pitted (huge time-saver) and cheap (little over $2/lb)!  Check out these sweet date recipes!

Here is another post about other things I like from Costco!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Black Forest Smoothie

A simple and refreshing smoothie from a friend!

Thank you Melissa for the lovely combination!  I've never actually had Black Forest cake, though I'm sure I would love it, and this drink sure hit the spot!

Black Forest Smoothie

1 cup water (so everything will blend)
2 cups fresh spinach (2 hearty handfuls)
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa (or less if you don't want a super strong chocolate flavor)
1 1/2 cups frozen, unsweetened cherries (I used a variety of 3 cherries in bag from Costco)

Blend and enjoy!

Makes 4 cups.

It was perfect right away -- chocolate-cherry yumminess with a milk shake consistency!


COMMENTS: How is 2014 treating you?  I am very excited about this new year -- I like the look and sound and feel of it, 2014 :)  However, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.  So many wonderful things going on, ... it's challenging to keep track!

Peace be with you :)


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