Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Chocolate Cake Breakfast Muffins

Chocolate Cake Breakfast Muffins are a great way to start your day!

These treats are great for any time! They provide several Dr Greger check marks: 2 "other fruits", flax, and whole grains! Plus, they are nut-free, so they are great for school lunches and snacks!

You really can use this recipe as a healthy chocolate cake! It's very tasty and sweet!

Chocolate Cake Breakfast Muffins
10 dates, pitted
4 bananas (extra ripe = extra sweet)
1/4 c flaxseed, ground (so you absorb the nutrition, also I sometimes add another 1/4 c for more nutrition)
1 c warm water
2 c whole wheat flour (pastry flour makes them extra fluffy!)
1 Tbsp baking powder (Trader Joe's sells aluminum-free)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c cocoa, unsweetened (you could add a bit more for even more chocolaty treats)

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender. Combine last 4 ingredients in large bowl. Then add wet to dry and mix until well combined, careful not to over mix.

Pour batter into 9x9" pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 min, or until cooked through. I love my silicone bakeware. 

You might notice, this is basically my Smooth and Sweet Banana Bread recipe plus 1/2 cup cocoa! So versatile! How do you mix it up?!

Here is another variation on proportions (without bananas) to make more of a "cookie" and it's still very nutritious!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Don't Zone Out - Harmful to your Happiness

Don't Zone Out - It's Harmful to Your Happiness

Today we have a surprising TED talk about daydreaming and happiness. Science has found that when our minds wander, we are often thinking negatively. Even if pleasant thoughts fill our minds, we are virtually NEVER as happy as if we were focusing on the present moment.

Bottom Line: BE HERE NOW!

Even if our daydreams are positive ones, we are at best, 90-some-% as happy as we would be if we were focused on the present moment.

For example, DREAMING of a beach vacation only has the potential to make us ALMOST as happy as if we just focus on what we are currently doing....like washing one dish at a time, as we empty the kitchen sink after dinner!

At any given moment, our shot at the greatest level of happiness is to be MINDFUL of the present moment, even if we are doing something boring, such as commuting to work. In the following research, this was true for every activity!

Here's the video of Matt Killingsworth's presentation/research:
SURPRISING Science of Mind Wandering (DAYDREAMING)

As a Positive Psychology researcher, he wonders what causes happiness. Matt studies the contents of our moment to moment experiences on Trackyourhappiness.org (you can get the app and join in!)

As of video's publishing, at least 15,000 people have been studied, who were of a wide range of ages, income, education, and marital status. Results were based on the most common activities that people usually do through the day.

He wondered:
Does mind wondering increase our happiness?
What if thoughts are pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral?
What happens first? mind wandering or unhappiness?

He found:
Mind wandering decreases our happiness.
Mind wandering PRECEDES unhappiness (rather than unhappiness coming before mind wandering).
This is the case, whether thoughts are unpleasant, neutral, or PLEASANT.

So keep your mind clear and enjoy your moments!

Related Posts:
Mindfulness Made Easy
All You Need is Love
Fantastic Feelings of Forgiveness
Positive Psychology
Boston Marathon Heartbreak Like No Other
Canada's Eating Tips 

I realize I haven't ever written a post about one of my favorite books, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, so I hope to share some of my favorite parts here soon! In the meantime, check it out: A New Earth. This book was the first place I ever learned about focusing on the present moment.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Take Control of Your Type II Diabetes

Do you know someone with diabetes? Even if you answer no, 7 million Americans have diabetes AND DON'T EVEN KNOW IT! Besides those people, 30 million other Americans are diagnosed with Diabetes each year.
84 million Americans are pre-diabetic (before even this stage damage can begin to occur).

Above data is according to the American Diabetes Association.
USA Today recently published 5 important facts about diabetes.

On the bright side, a healthy diet CURES this disease! What I mean is, in most cases, eating a healthy enough diet will allow someone previously diagnosed with type II diabetes, to maintain normal blood sugar, and therefore not experience any short or long term diabetic complications. Now, the healthy eating of PLANT BASED WHOLE FOODS must continue in order to maintain this healthy state. 

Start with some chili!

Returning to previous eating habits and choices will result in the return of increased blood sugars, so the term CURE is relative. However, if getting off of insulin and other diabetic medications and avoiding their side effects and expense is a satisfying goal, you have an option!

Additionally, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine nicely summarized a recently published a study showing more good news for diabetics: "A plant-based diet improves psychological well-being in type 2 diabetes patients, according to a review published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research Care. Researchers reviewed 11 controlled trials on dietary interventions for type 2 diabetes and found that plant-based diets improved well-being overall when compared to dietary interventions from various diabetes associations. Participants reported less pain and saw improvements in depression, weight, quality of life, cholesterol and HbA1c levels, and other health outcomes. Adherence was higher among the plant-based intervention groups, which also suggested higher acceptability, compared with control groups, demonstrating the potential effectiveness of plant-based diets as a clinical intervention for type 2 diabetes."

Here is some more amazing findings about diabetes that I learned about from How Not to Die by Dr Greger:

SATURATED FAT is a key culprit here of the dysfunction of diabetes. Saturated fat harms muscle cells! WARNING TO ATHLETES
Saturated fat:

1. CAUSES inflammation
2. CAUSES mitochondrial dysfunction
(mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells!)
3. CAUSES insulin resistance

"Vegans have significantly LESS FAT trapped in the deep calf muscles than those of comparably slim omnivores" p.108

As for weight loss, most weight gain is due to portion control, so it is EVENTUALLY REGAINED :( So, INSTEAD we have to change WHAT we eat to maintain :) Adding 5 CUPS / week of beans to ones diet is just as effective at weight loss and blood sugar control as a portion control plan! Too much insulin causes other problems such as CANCER and premature AGING. 

I especially loved the study that cured 17 of 21 subjects of DIABETIC NEUROPATHY WITHIN DAYS! Since neural changed occurred before blood sugars stabilized, they speculate that rapid results were likely due to improved blood flow. 

This goes back the original basis for this healthy way of eating - it cures heart disease. Since our hearts fuel all of our organ systems, our nervous system benefits too!

Sorry for the delay, the Boston Marathon threw me off schedule :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

An Inspiration for Creativity and a Tasty Snack

For this week,
1) Boston Marathon's pre-race non-dairy dinner sponsor!
2) an inspiring National Geographic video!
3) and a simple and oh so tasty snack! 

I'm settling nicely into my taper, and getting excited to have another try at the Boston Marathon! It's been 6 years since my first experience in an extraordinary year! 2013 Boston Marathon Post: Heartbreak Like None Other . As a sign of a change in the times, it's exciting that the pre-race dinner is sponsored by a non-dairy brand - Almond Breeze! You used to hear so much about chocolate milk for athletes; heck, I even gave that advice years ago! Now, Canada isn't recommending dairy, and Boston Marathon is open to alternatives!

Dewitt Jones

Get ready to feel full (of life) and fired up and overflowing and compassionate and inspired by Dewitt Jones, an amazing National Geographic photographer!

"There is more than one right answer" -- Dewitt Jones

Celebrate What’s Right in the World!
(Click on words above to see TED talk video)

Please also click here for Dewitt Jones' Gallery showing what's right with the world! Just click on an image and a set of breathtaking photos!

This is great page which combines Dewitt's most loved quotes with his beautiful photography. Check it out and share with a friend! Celebrate What's Right with the World Quotes

"Find guides - people who are in love with their life. See the world through their eyes" -- Dewitt Jones. Dewitt left the greatest impression on me when I first heard him talk, and he was speaking with a talented weaver, and asked her what she thinks about when she weaves, and her response still stays with me: "When I weave, I weave." It's a simple reminder of mindfulness, and staying IN the PRESENT moment. When I do, the peace I feel is a lot like Dewitt describes...full, in love, passionate! And I'll add a couple of my words: satisfied, bursting!

Ants-on-a-Log Salad

Here's a quick and satisfying snack! It contains 1) other veggies, 2) berries, and 3) nuts, and 4) flaxseed Daily Dozen Checkmarks!

Ants-on-a-Log Salad

3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4c raisins (always double-check that there is no sugar added)
1/4c peanuts (ideally unsalted)
1 Tbsp flaxseed, ground (optional)

Combine ingredients and enjoy!

You might also enjoy: Sweetly Stuffed Celery

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Canada's Newest Food Guide Makes a Big Change!

I have so much to share, so I am committing to a weekly post, beginning today!

First, what has me so excited lately - Canada's newest nutrition guidelines! You know, Canada, just a bit north of the United States!

The most significant change is that due to the overwhelming science establishing the harm of dairy consumption, the country of Canada is no longer recommending that it's citizens consume dairy! This understanding is overwhelming in evidence based nutrition research, however it goes against the grain of what we have always been told, "Milk does a body good".

Certainly, the United States will follow suit in the next few decades, and I will be in a pleasant state of shock if this recommendation will come in 2020, when our next set of guidelines is due to be published. In the 2015 USDA recommendations, soy milk was listed as an alternative to dairy milk, a step in the right direction. Though the focus was on lactose intolerance, rather that the myriad of reasons one ought to opt for non-dairy alternatives.

The Canadian plate is very similar to the USDA plate otherwise, since both promote a significantly whole foods plant based plate. Consider that 75% of the plate must come from plants, and the "protein foods" can easily come from plant sources.

Canada is also providing the following wonderful tips and messages! They also say "Healthy eating is more that the foods you eat." and "Eat well. Live Well."

1. Be mindful of your eating habits. Here is a Mindfulness Made Easy post :)
2. Cook more often.
3. Enjoy your food. For more, check out my Savor Your Sweets post.
4. Eat meals with others. You might enjoy my post highlighting the Blue Zones.
5. Use food labels. Check out Food Labels for Dummies.
6. Limit foods high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat.
7. Be aware of food marketing. 

Here is a handout you can download: Canada's Food Guide
Here is the Canadian Government's website with lots of awesome resources: Resources.


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