Follow by Email

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Newsletter

Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.

-Janis Joplin

Beautiful Body Types

Almost all of us have a distorted image of our body, often due to the importance our culture places on outward appearance and the onslaught of media images of airbrushed models and celebrities. On a daily basis, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never speak to another. Imagine speaking to a child the way you speak to yourself about your body. It would devastate and squelch a child. It affects you similarly, causing stress and emotional pain in your body, which can make improving your health or losing weight even more difficult.

Think of all the intelligence, creativity and time you spend on improving, altering and judging your appearance. Who would you be and what could you accomplish if your valuable resources weren’t used this way? Constant emphasis on the external makes us discount the great presence and intelligence that is housed by the body. It makes us forget the magic of our internal rhythms and fail to acknowledge the beautiful bodies we have.

The body you have right now is incredible! It never misses a heartbeat, it maintains homeostasis and it miraculously digests whatever you put in it. It is your instrument for expressing your creativity, intelligence and love. By focusing on the 1% you don’t like or wish were different, you may be ignoring the remaining 99% about your body that is beautiful, unique and delightful.

What would your life be like if you were simply at peace with the body you have? You may wish to make your body healthier and stronger, but could you do that out of love and respect for your body instead of the opposite? Could you begin to treat yourself with kindness, to limit the negative self-talk and to reconnect with your inner wisdom? Take a minute to imagine what that would feel like. It would mean celebrating your body rather than punishing it. It would mean nourishing your body rather than depriving it. It would mean a chance to watch your body flourish when treated with care and respect.

Food Focus: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are on everyone’s mind this season. They seem to go hand in hand with the holidays, and fortunately, eating these and other sweet vegetables needn’t be limited to this time of year. Cravings for sweets can be greatly reduced by adding sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, beets, squash, turnips and rutabagas to your daily diet. Sweet potatoes elevate blood sugar gently rather than with the jolt delivered by simple refined carbohydrates, so there’s no energy crash after you eat them. Much higher in nutrients than white potatoes and especially rich in vitamin A, sweet potatoes offer a creamy consistency that is satisfying and soothing. They are healing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs and help to remove toxins from the body. They can increase the quantity of milk in lactating women and can lessen cramps and premenstrual symptoms. If you don’t have any sweet potatoes in your kitchen, go out and buy some (organic and local if possible) and make the recipe below.

Recipe of the Month: Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro
This recipe is an eye-opener for those who find sweet potatoes cloyingly sweet or those who are tired of eating them smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar. Japanese sweet potatoes, with their pale flesh and delicate flavor, are a treat if you can find them.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 sweet potatoes
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
2-3 limes
butter or olive oil, salt (optional)

1.   Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them whole, in their skins, at 375 degrees until tender, about 40 minutes.
2.   Wash and chop cilantro leaves.
3.   When sweet potatoes are done, slit open the skin and place on serving plate. Season with salt and dots of butter or a sprinkle of oil, if you like, then squeeze fresh lime juice all over, and shower with cilantro leaves.

Forward to a Friend
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, tomorrow is the big day. As we prepare for the biggest meal of the year, I thought I would post some tips for keeping you from totally over indulging at your Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Remember the reason for Thanksgiving-remind yourself of all that you are grateful for and enjoy the company you are with.
  • Start your day off on the right foot with a bowl of whole grain oatmeal, a green smoothie (gotta get in those greens!), or some eggs scrambled with veggies.
  • Make sure there is a veggie platter where you are spending the holiday. If someone else isn't bringing it, volunteer to bring it yourself. What a better way to snack than on fresh, raw vegetables?
  • Cut back on the butter and sugar. Most recipes call for too much of both. Play with your recipes to see where you can skimp without losing flavor. You will be surprised! 
  • This is not the "last meal". You don't need to stuff yourself to the point of discomfort. Eat a small portion of each dish and take leftovers if you want more. It doesn't need to all be consumed in one sitting!
  • Get moving! Some families play flag football together while others go for a family walk. If your family doesn't have a tradition yet, now is the time to start one!

Wherever you are spending Thanksgiving this year, I wish you all a safe, happy holiday enjoyed with those that mean the most to you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November Newsletter

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

Get Slow
Who doesn’t feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day? We rush through the day, running here and there, and end up exhausted. Somehow these days full of duties, obligations and busyness have begun to build up and become our lives. We spend our time doing things we don’t really want to do, yet feel we should. We’ve come to believe that being productive and crossing things off our to-do list is the ultimate goal.

The truth is, life on Earth is a brief gift, and our time is too precious to be used like this. If we want our lives to be balanced and healthy, we need to lessen our load and increase our down time. This means planning less in a day, prioritizing those things that make our hearts sing and de-prioritizing those things that are not imperative.

If we must accomplish many things each day, we can still change the quality with which we do things. How can we transmute that sprint to the train into something delicious instead of the usual gripping and tightening experience? Where can we find ease in the midst of stress? How can we cultivate the art of going slowly?

Take a few moments before you climb out of bed in the morning to remember your dreams and to think about what you want from the day. Leave your watch on the bedside table. Take the scenic route. Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Check email only twice a day. Don’t pack your schedule so tightly that there’s no time for a short walk. Light candles before you start to cook dinner. Add one moment here and there for slowness; it can be done simply and will have a profound effect on your well-being.

Adapted from an article by Marco Visscher & Jay Walljasper, Ode Magazine, Issue #15,

Food Focus: Oils and Fats
Not all oils and fats are created equal. Heavily processed, hydrogenated, “trans” fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair and nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. Our bodies also need fat for insulation and to protect and hold our organs in place.

A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfillment and warmth. When there are excess fats and oils in the diet, especially heavily processed fats, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness. Signs of insufficient high-quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold.

There are many sources of healthy fats and oils:
·   For sautéing and baking, try butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil because they do not break down when used at high temperatures.
·   When sautéing foods at moderate temperatures, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
·   Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings on top of salads, veggies or grains.
·   Other healthy fats are found in whole nuts and seeds and in their butters like almond butter or tahini.
·   Whole foods such as avocados, olives and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 and omega-6 organic eggs.
Experiment with these healthy fat sources and see which work best for you and leave you satisfied.

When selecting oils, buy the highest-quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes. Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined. Words to avoid are expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.

Recipe of the Month:

Avocado Dip
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 cup

1 large peeled and pitted avocado
2/3 cup plain yogurt, goat yogurt or soy yogurt
1 diced tomato
dash or two of cayenne pepper
sea salt and black pepper

1.   Mash avocado with a fork until very smooth.
2.   Add yogurt, tomato, cayenne. Blend until smooth. This may be done in a food processor, in a blender or with a fork.
3.   Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.
4.   Serve chilled with mixed raw vegetables.
Note: Best made a maximum of 1 hour before serving.

Forward to a Friend
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Health is so much more than the food we eat and exercise. One aspect of health that many people don't consider is in the products we use around the house for cleaning or personal care. I have made a point to rid my home of as many chemical cleaners as possible. I started small, replacing my glass cleaner with a squirt bottle of club soda. It does a great job removing smudges from glass and mirrors and the bonus is-the kids can help clean, and even beg for their turn to spray. I use vinegar and water (50/50) to clean my tile floors. Vinegar is a natural anti bacterial so I feel confident that I am cleaning the germs without harsh chemicals. It also kills 82% of molds and 80% of viruses! Costco sells a huge bottle of vinegar for about $5, or it can be found at your local grocery store as well. Speaking of Costco, I have been getting my dishwashing detergent there for some time. I decided that when I was out, I was going to make my own. I did some research and found a super simple recipe. I have been using it for a couple of weeks now and have no complaints. Good for the environment, your health and your budget!

Dishwashing Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup Baking Soda
several drops essential oil of your choice ( I used tangerine)

Mix all ingredients in a resealable container. Use 2 tablespoons per load and fill your rinse aid dispenser with straight vinegar.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chocolate and Child Slavery

Before you go out and stock up on Halloween candy, please read this. Do you have any idea that most of the chocolate that we buy in the United States comes to us via child slaves on cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast in Africa? Over 40% of the worlds farms are located in Cote D' Ivoire, where at least 12,000 children, some groups say up to 200,000, have been forced into slavery so we can enjoy our chocolate treats. Most of the children are under the age of 12 and work from 12-15 hours a day. They carry huge bags of cocoa beans that are often bigger than they are and weigh more. They are fed only bananas and are forced to sleep with 20 other children locked in a tiny room where they sleep on wooden planks and urinate in a can. The children are often beaten with cocoa tree branches. 

*I did NOT purchase this candy. It was collected by my kids at our community's Trunk or Treat

The following are companies that get their cocoa beans from countries that use child labor. This Halloween, please do your part. Take a stand and do not buy candy from these companies.

M&M Mars
Ben and Jerry's 

You can find Fair Trade chocolate at the following retailers:

Dunkin' Donuts
Fred MeyerWhole Foods
Wild Oats
Safeway (includes Tom Thumb)
StarbucksTrader Joe's

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

I grew up thinking I didn't like sweet potatoes. It wasn't until I had them while at a friend's for Thanksgiving 12 years ago that I realized I had been missing out all those years! Sweet potato fries have become a staple in our house. They are so delicious and full of vitamins and nutrients. I will often make a batch to keep in the fridge for snacking. They are great cold and with their natural sweetness, will even satisfy a "sweet" craving.

Here is my simple recipe:

Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2 large sweet potatoes (or yams)
sea salt

Peel the sweet potatoes

Cut them into fries and drizzle them with about 1/4 cup olive oil. Toss.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and cinnamon, to taste.

Arrange them on a baking sheet so that all fries are touching the pan.

Bake them at 425 for 15 minutes. Flip them over and bake another 15 minutes or until desired level of crispness is achieved.  (they will not get as crisp as a deep fried potato, obviously!)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I love when Fall rolls around each year because that means pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies....I even saw a recipe for pumpkin chili this year! I made pumpkin pancakes the other morning and had lots of pumpkin puree left. I searched for some pumpkin cookies and found this recipe (I also got some yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies from our neighbor earlier this week-thanks Aimee! Check out her blog at
I changed it a bit....instead of a 1 2/3 cup of white sugar, I used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup agave. I also used white whole wheat flour and used coconut oil in place of canola oil. I put raisins in but left out the walnuts.
Here is the recipe with my changes. Happy Fall!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

by IsaChandra
Makes 4 dozen cookies
These are soft out of the oven, but as they cool they are nice and chewy. They are a serious crowd pleaser, for crowds with taste buds.
Note: I use flax seeds because they make the texture a little chewier, but I’ve made them without and they’re still good!
baking sheets
2 mixing bowls
2 cups flour (white whole wheat)
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 2/3 cups sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup agave
2/3 cup canola oil 1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (yes!)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets. (I used parchment paper)
Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. Fold in walnuts and raisins.
Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don’t spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You’ll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they’ve had some time to cool and set. They taste even better the next day!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Newsletter

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
-Mark Twain

Time Management

Have you ever wished for a few more hours in the day? Why is it that some people seem to get everything done effortlessly and others feel that time constantly eludes them? The secret to managing your time well isn’t working more hours. It is about prioritizing the important things and learning to use the time you have more efficiently and effectively. The secret is working smarter, not harder.

Some of us, by nature, organize and get tasks out of the way before we relax, while others of us play first and work later. It is important to first recognize which type you are and whether your style is allowing you to have the life you really want. Maybe you are super-organized at work, but burned out because you don’t know how to make time for yourself. Maybe you are naturally a less organized person who knows how to relax, but you are dissatisfied because you aren’t fulfilling your goals and dreams.

Rather than labeling yourself or beating yourself up, realize that time management is an area of your life that you can strengthen. Like a new muscle, it takes practice and repetition to make it stronger. To help you get started, here are some steps to streamline your days at work and at home. Try the first one or two that jump out at you:

  • Allocate time for planning and organizing.
  • Create to-do lists that are realistic, not intimidating. Use only one to-do list.
  • Under-schedule your time: Leave time for the unexpected and for interruptions. When you estimate how long something will take, add on a third of that time.
  • Schedule your time in a way that reduces interruptions that lower your productivity.
  • Practice the art of intelligent neglect: Eliminate trivial tasks.
  • Prioritize what is most important and do that first.
  • Consider your biological prime time: At what time of day do you work best? Plan to do your most important work at that time.
  • If you say yes to everything that comes your way, learn to say no.
  • Ask for help and delegate.
  • In the evening make your to-do list for the next day, so it will be out of your brain and on a piece of paper. Leave work with a clear head and a clean desk.
  • Acknowledge yourself daily for all that you have accomplished.

Also take a look at the two biggest hindrances to using time effectively: procrastinating and lacking purpose. We usually procrastinate when a task seems too daunting, too large or too complex, or when we feel we won’t be able to handle it. When you get that “deer in the headlights” feeling, try “chunking”: break the large task into smaller, manageable action steps and start with the first one. We also often drag our heels or use our time inefficiently because we are bored, unengaged and uninspired. The most effective people will tell you that they love what they do and are aligned with a greater purpose. When it comes to managing your time, you may need to ask the larger questions, “Am I doing what I love to do? Am I doing something meaningful to me?”

As you strengthen your new time management muscle, keep your focus on getting organized so that you can live the life you came here for. Instead of being a chore, good time management can be your ticket to more fun, greater satisfaction and a vibrant, exciting life.

 Food Focus: Root Vegetables

The roots of any plant are its anchor and foundation; they are the essential parts that support and nourish the plant. Root vegetables lend these properties to us when we eat them, making us feel physically and mentally grounded and rooted, increasing our stability, stamina and endurance. Roots are a rich source of nutritious complex carbohydrates, providing a steady source of necessary sugars to the body. Instead of upsetting blood sugar levels like refined sweet foods, they regulate them. Since they absorb, assimilate and supply plants with vital nutrients, roots likewise increase absorption and assimilation in our digestive tracts.

Long roots, like burdock, carrots, parsnips and daikon radish, are excellent blood purifiers and can help improve circulation in the body and increase mental clarity. Round roots, like turnips, radishes, beets and rutabagas, are nourishing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs and can help regulate blood sugar and moods, and alleviate cravings.

Recipe of the Month: Roasted Root Vegetables
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25-35 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 sweet potato
2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 turnips or 1 large rutabaga
1 daikon radish (or substitute/add in your favorites, like squash)
olive oil
salt and pepper
herbs: rosemary, thyme or sage (fresh if possible)

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.   Wash and chop all vegetables into large bite-sized pieces.
3.   Place in a large baking dish with sides.
4.   Drizzle with olive oil; mix well to coat each vegetable lightly with oil.
5.   Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.
6.   Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender and golden brown, checking every 10 minutes to stir and make sure veggies are not sticking.
Note: Any combination of vegetables will work. Roasting only one kind of vegetable also makes a nice side dish.

Forward to a Friend
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. In light of the black out in Southern California and the numerous tornadoes and flooding across the country this year, I thought I would come up with some healthy alternatives to the typical pantry fare of processed foods.
It is always a good idea to keep your pantry stocked with plenty of nuts, dried beans and grains. I keep all of my dry goods in glass jars that I refill from the bins at one of a couple of local health food stores. In the event of a blackout, most likely the gas would still work. Assuming you have a gas cooktop or a camping stove, you would be set to make a meal of beans and rice, and snack on nuts and popcorn.
I always keep a supply of Barilla Plus pasta on hand. It is made with a grain and legume flour blend of: lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, barley, spelt, oats and egg whites, so it is a good source of protein and has plenty of fiber. Both of these are important to keep you feeling full longer and regulating your blood sugar. The great thing is, they taste no different than regular pasta. My kids love this! Keep a jar of marinara in the pantry and you will be set for dinner.
Brown rice is a great staple as well. Throw 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water in a pot, bring it to a boil and then simmer for 40 minutes. It takes longer than white rice but the benefits are worth it. White rice is brown rice that has been stripped of all the the nutrients and just the starch is left.
Steel cut oats are my favorite breakfast these days. I like to add some vanilla and mashed banana while they cook and top them with fresh fruit, cinnamon and almond butter. In the event that you don't have fresh fruit to work with, you could always add cinnamon with raisins or any dried or canned fruit you have on hand.

When stocking your pantry for emergency food, be sure to have plenty of canned fruit and vegetables, dried beans and grains and nuts. Canned soup is a good emergency staple, but be sure to look for low sodium varieties. It goes without saying, that any well stocked emergency stockpile will have plenty of bottled water, and candles with matches or battery powered candles (great in dark kids rooms!) with plenty of batteries. A battery powered AM/FM radio is a good thing to have on hand for emergency updates. Have extra blankets available, a first aid kit and make sure you always keep your cell phones charged. You never know when the power could go out!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Healthy lunchboxes

As a mom, one of my top goals is to make sure my kids eat a healthy diet, full of plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I try to avoid artificial flavors and colors and most processed foods. I say "most", because at times, I do send processed snacks that my daughter picks out. I don't want her to feel left out at the lunch table when all of the other kids are opening their pre-packaged Oreos, Cheetos and the like. I buy the Annie's brand Cheddar Bunnies, Chocolate Bunnies and Graham Bunnies. They come in small, kid size portions and are made with whole grains. They don't use artificial colors or flavors and the sugar content isn't horrible. It is also important to watch the sodium content in processed foods.

For my daughter, meat is not an option. Most days, she has a peanut butter sandwich. We use whole grain bread and sandwich thins. Since she doesn't like jam, some days I slice fresh strawberries or bananas into the peanut butter. I am happy to sneak in more fresh fruit! I try to mix it up and give her hummus and flat bread as well. She always gets a vegetable and fruit (organic when possible as pesticides have been linked to ADHD) with her sandwich as well as some nuts and/or a "treat". For her, the treat is one of her Annie's bunny packets, a chocolate rice cake, trail mix or a few chocolate cat cookies from Trader Joe's (yum!). The vegetable is usually carrots, but sometimes she requests frozen peas. The fruit options are a little more plentiful-apples, grapes, mandarin oranges, strawberries and peaches. My daughter is a little picky, so my options are a bit limited. I let her help pack her lunch each night which is a real key in getting your kids to eat what is in their lunch box. I am happy to say that she never comes home with wasted food in her empty lunch box!

Here are some healthy options that your child might like:

Nut butters with jelly/fruit on whole grain bread
Hummus with flat bread
Nitrate free turkey breast with cheese
Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese
Pasta salad made with Barilla Plus multigrain pasta (a favorite around here!)

Carrot sticks
Sugar snap peas
Cucumber slices
Broccoli or cauliflower with ranch dressing
Sliced sweet bell peppers
Grape tomatoes

Mandarin oranges
Orange Slices

Annie's Bunnies
Chocolate rice cakes
Trail mix
Trader Joe's Cat Cookies

Whatever you choose to put in your child's lunch box, please be sure it is a whole food, the less processed the better. We really are what we eat, so give your kids the best!

Friday, September 2, 2011

September Newsletter

 Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.


Deconstructing Cravings

The body is an amazing source of intelligence. It is always there for you, pumping blood, never skipping a heartbeat, digesting whatever food you put in it and maintaining homeostasis. Is this reliable, intelligent bio-computer making a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or chocolate? Are cravings due to lack of will-power or discipline? I’d like to suggest that cravings are not a problem. They are critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.

The important thing is to understand why you crave what you crave. Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients. Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too boring or stressful. Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message: a craving. A craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, more exercise, more water or more love in your life. The key to stopping the sugar craving is to understand and deliver what your body really needs.

No book or theory can tell you what to eat. Only awareness of your body and its needs can tell you. Of all the relationships in our lives, the one with our body is the most essential. It takes communication, love and time to cultivate a relationship with your body. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you will create a deep and lasting level of health and balance.

The next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of a weakness. Try these tips to respond to your body:

·      Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
·      Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit and sweet or root vegetables.
·      What is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express, or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
·      When you eat the food you are craving, enjoy it, taste it, savor it; notice its effect. Then you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time. 

Food Focus: Natural Sweeteners
Who among us doesn’t love sweets? The sweet flavor releases serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. But when it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda. Since refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can spike blood sugar, which can often lead to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations. Instead, using naturally and minimally processed sweeteners can reduce cravings for sugary things.

Here are a few natural sweeteners to substitute in drinks, food and baking. Since they are all approximately 1.5 times sweeter than refined sugar, you can use less. You can find them in most supermarkets or natural food stores. When replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners in a recipe, reduce the amounts of other liquids.

Raw Honey
Everyone seems to love honey, one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. Honey will have a different flavor depending on the plant source. Some are very dark and intensely flavored. Wherever possible, choose raw honey, as it is unrefined and contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.

Agave Nectar
Agave is made through the extraction and purification of the juice of the agave cactus. It does not stimulate insulin secretion as other sugars do, so it does not create a "sugar rush." It has a delightfully light and mild flavor.

Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is the concentrated extract of the sap of maple trees. It adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best.

Adapted from "The Cane Mutiny," New Age Magazine, March/April 1999.

Recipe of the Month: Maple Fruit Compote with Honey-Ginger Toasted Nuts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4
2-3 apples
2-3 peaches or pears
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup raisins
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnuts or nuts of your choice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons honey

1.   Wash, core and chop fruit into slices or chunks.                                        
2.   Place in a large saucepan with 1/3 cup of water. Add the maple syrup and raisins.  
3.   Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
4.   Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook for another 10 minutes, until soft.
5.   While fruit is cooking, place chopped nuts in a skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
6.   Drizzle honey over the nuts and add ginger, but keep stirring since the honey can easily burn.
7.   Top warm fruit with toasted nuts and enjoy!

Forward to a Friend
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kale Smoothies.....

......I know I probably just lost a few of you with the title. Hang tight, they are so much better than they sound! Greens are the number one most missing item from the American diet. They have so many health benefits! They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. As if that isn't enough, they are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Any way you can sneak them in is a bonus!
Kale smoothie:

1 cup milk (I use almond milk, but you could use any kind)
3-4 frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1 handful kale (trim the curly part off of the tough stem)
1 TBS ground flax seed
1/2 c ice

Place everything in the blender and blend until smooth.
I promise it doesn't taste like grass 3 year old son asks for these daily!

*You can add kale to any fruit smoothie of choice!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Because I have not been eating a lot of meat lately, I am always searching for good vegetarian options. I found this recipe on a blog that one of my clients told me about. I love the blog and the enchiladas are delicious! I have to warn you-the pepper jack makes them pretty spicy. You could use monterey jack if you don't like the spice. 
(it is pure coincidence that they are called "Beth's Enchiladas")

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp cumin, ground
¼ cup flour
¼ cup tomato paste
14.5 oz. vegetable broth
Salt and pepper       

3 cups (12 oz.) pepper-jack cheese, grated
12 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 carton (10 oz.) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
11 oz. can corn kernels, drained
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin, ground
16 corn tortillas (6” size)
1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and add cumin, flour, and tomato paste.  Cook 1 minute, whisking.
2. Whisk in broth and ¾ cup water.  Bring to boil and then simmer until slightly thickened (5-8 min.).  Salt and pepper, then set aside.
3. For filling, combine in a large bowl 2 cups cheese (saving 1 cup for topping), beans, thawed spinach, corn, half of green onions, cumin, plus salt and pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
5. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish.
6. Stack tortillas in a damp paper towel and warm 1 min. in microwave.
7. One-by-one, fill tortillas with about 1/3 cup filling, roll tightly, and arrange in baking dish, seam down.
8. Cover enchiladas with the sauce and top with remaining cheese.
9. Bake 15-20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly.
10. Remove and let cool five minutes.  Top with remaining green onions and serve.
I served the enchiladas with a green salad topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and orange bell peppers. A simple vinaigrette over the top and you are set!

Friday, August 5, 2011

August Newsletter

Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Relaxation and Exercise

Summer is often a time for serious play, time off and deep relaxation. Many of us use the summertime to rebuild our reserves for the rest of the busy year. In our work-crazed society we can lose sight of the benefits of slowing down and taking time to rest. Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to enjoy the restorative powers of reconnecting to your body through movement and relaxation.

The body loves to move. Even though our body is healthiest when it is getting appropriate physical activity, we often feel dread and boredom when we hear the word “exercise”. Think for a moment of what type of movement you would consider fun as opposed to torturous. Perhaps you loathe the idea of a gym, but miss taking dance classes. Maybe you secretly want to try yoga or rollerblading. You could play touch football with your kids, walk with a neighbor in the mornings or go for a swim. The summer offers so many choices – it’s simply up to you to choose which style of movement excites you. Your heart will thank you, your soul will be gratified, your limbs will be more fluid and you’ll sleep better at night.

Summer is a unique time of year when we can do both our relaxation and our movement out in nature. Take a nap in a hammock and enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. Go to the park and meditate or read under a favorite tree. One of the greatest places to rest in the summertime is by the water. There is something magical and restorative in water, and we naturally crave to be near it, by it or in it. Heading to the water, whether it is the beach, a lake or a kiddy pool, can be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Whether you are relaxing, exercising or both, notice that being outside in nature has a profound way of quieting the mind and reconnecting us to ourselves. Often this relaxation and peace of mind are what our bodies crave the most. So while summer is with us, strap on your sandals and enjoy the rich elements of sun, wind and water and the nourishment that they bring.

Food Focus: Water
Most of us are aware of the importance of drinking enough water. Getting our daily dose of water helps our organs perform their functions, keeps our skin clear and hydrated, and allows physical action in our bodies to flow smoothly. Even with this knowledge, it can still be challenging to drink all the water our bodies deserve daily. In the summer, when we tend to play hard, sweat and spend prolonged time in the sun, drinking plenty of water is critical. Those who are not drinking enough may experience poor digestion, sluggish thinking, skin breakouts, headaches, bad breath and general fatigue.  

To start your day right, set a large glass of water by your bed each night and drink it when you wake up. Drinking water first thing in the morning pulls out toxins from the previous day and freshens your system for the day ahead. Keep a bottle of water accessible throughout the day, whether you are on the go or at a desk. Having a bottle of water close by will remind you to take a sip when thirsty. The first sip will usually let you know how much more water you need. A sip or two may be enough, or you may need a big glass. If you drink most of your daily water before early evening, you most likely will not be thirsty before bed. This is good, because drinking before bed and then waking to use the bathroom disturbs your peaceful night’s sleep.

What about quality? Some people like bottled water, while others prefer filtered water. The key is to like the taste of the water you are drinking, and the water should agree with your body. If the taste of plain water is unappealing, experiment to see how you can make it tasty and drinkable. Try adding a few mint leaves, a wedge of lemon, a sprig of parsley, slices of cucumber, a twist of lime or a squeeze of orange to make water more tempting, or to jazz up your routine. Also, drinking tea or juice and eating raw fruits and vegetables contribute to the hydration process. So, splash in the waves, swim in the sun, drink plenty of water and enjoy the summer fun!

Recipes of the Month:

Sun Tea
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 24 hours
Yield: 2 liters

3-4 tea bags of your choice

1.   Fill an extra-large mason jar with water, add 3 or 4 of your favorite tea bags and cover with lid.
2.   Place in sun for one full day and let the shining rays pour in heat and energy, bringing out the wonderful tea flavors.
3.   Sweeten if so desired with natural sweetener and serve at room temperature or cold over ice.
Note: Garnish with mint leaves or lemon wedge.

Ginger Drink
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 24 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 pound fresh ginger root
2 quarts water
juice of 2 limes
maple syrup or agave nectar to taste

1.   Thinly peel the fresh ginger, grate and mix with water in a large saucepan.
2.   Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Cover the pan and turn off the heat; leave
      for 24 hours.
3.   Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
4.   Add the lime juice and maple syrup or agave. Stir until dissolved. Serve chilled.

Forward to a Friend
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.