I am so excited I have to rant. I arrived at the farmers market this evening and sent my son a text message saying "they have ramps". His reply was simply "RAMPS!" Even though he is only 13 years old he knows what a treasure ramps are.
Yes, it's that time of year again. We only get roughly 2 weeks every year. What are ramps you ask? Well, they are wild leeks but I know they are mother nature’s gift to the humankind. I cherish these oniony garlicky tasting gifts from GOD.
If you follow me on Facebook you know that the highlight of my week is going to the Cameron Park Farmer's Market that takes place every Friday from 4pm - 8 pm beginning early May and ending late October.
This week I stopped by one of my favorite vendors B & E's Trees. Bree Breckel the "B" in B & E's Trees sells beautiful bourbon aged maple syrup. Turns out growing along with all those syrup producing maple trees they have Ramps...lots and lots of them. This week Bree had several bunches with her. I couldn't resist taking a couple of pounds off of her hands.
My husband has been traveling on business and is going to completely miss this year’s ramp season. Being the awesome wife that I am, I will whip him some treats so he can enjoy them upon his return. I don't always love to cook so I am going to keep it simple. Sometimes when natural food is this good it is best left for simple preparations. I am thinking compound butter and ramp pesto. The butter is going to be a real treat on top of his home baked bread.
For dinner tonight I am going sauté the ramps in a bit of olive oil and finish them off with a pinch of salt. The ramps will be served along side fresh caught wild trout that I picked up at the People's Food Co-Op. I also scored baby purple potatoes.
Bottom line, if you have an opportunity to score some ramps where you live, I recommend you do it.
If you love ramps as much as I do and have a great recipe to preserve them into well after the season has ended, please e sure to share. I think we have a couple more days left of ramp season 2019.
Well...yes, they do really work. The fact is, not only has it worked for me personally, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.
Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”
“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.
Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post.
The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction
Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors' visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent!
So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too.
Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health.
I'll briefly go over the research in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too.
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood.
In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms.
Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression.
While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods.
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indices).
How can this be?
One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating.
Another way it can work for weight is due to "mindful eating." Mindful eating is a "non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating." It's the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It's listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It's not allowing yourself to be distracted with other things while you're eating, like what's on TV or your smartphone.
People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk.
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion).In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's microbes.
Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.
The research here is just starting to show us the important link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help.
Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more.
Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it?
Let me know in the comments below.
Sometimes a girl just needs some pizza. This diary free version really hits the spot and is a much healthier version than its fat cousin.
Yes, we're talking testosterone. That muscle-building hormone. But I'm not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones or anything like that.
I am going to give you two solid tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally with supplements.
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body (it helps over 300 enzymes). Zinc helps your immune system, helps to produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing. Enough zinc is necessary to maintain healthy skin and for optimal ability to taste and smell. Zinc is an antioxidant and can be supplemented to support optimal levels of testosterone because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone.
Zinc is found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish. Some plants can also provide zinc such as beans and nuts. The best dietary source is oysters.
The daily recommended dose of zinc for men is 11 mg/day (for women it's 8 mg/day). Low zinc levels are rare but tend to occur in vegetarians/vegans, athletes, and people who sweat a lot (zinc is lost in sweat). And low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.
Of course if you don't get enough zinc in your diet you can always supplement. Before you do, however, consider a few things:
● It is possible to get too much zinc so unless your doctor tells you never take more than 40 mg/day. For many people just 5-10 mg/day is enough to prevent deficiency.
● Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you.
● Zinc supplements are best taken 2-hours away from any medications (if it's safe to use it at all while taking those medications) and should be taken with food.
Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is actually the most common nutrient that we in North America just simply don't get enough of. Not only is it not very abundant in foods but most places far from the equator don't get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels year round.
Hello winter; goodbye sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D is known to help us absorb calcium from our foods and is also necessary for our immune system, nervous system, and muscular system. As with zinc if you're deficient in this nutrient you may experience increased testosterone levels after supplementing.
Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks. Unfortunately it isn't abundant in most other un-fortified foods.
The bottom line with vitamin D is that you may need to supplement. Of course if you're always outside in the sun or eat fatty fish every day you may be the exception. You can always ask your doctor to check your blood levels to be sure because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better.
Here are a few tips to supplement with vitamin D safely and effectively:
● Read your labels and don't overdo it. Never supplement with more than 4,000IU/day unless supervised by your doctor.
● As with zinc (and most other supplements) you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any medications.
● Take your vitamin D with some fat to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended that you take it with the largest meal of the day.
● Note that vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil, and multivitamins, so you may not need to take it separately (read your labels).
If you aren't getting enough zinc and/or vitamin D every day your testosterone levels may be a bit low but don't overdo these two essential nutrients.
You knew there was a bit of an over-emphasis (borderlining obsession) about cholesterol, right?
Before we jump into some myths let's make sure we're on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.
While cholesterol is an actual molecule what it is bound to while it's floating through your blood is what's more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact depending on what it's combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart. Yes, opposite!
So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.
They're grouped into two main categories:
● HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.
● LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).
And yes, it's even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.
So “cholesterol” isn't simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it's bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.
Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it's incorporated into the membranes of your cells.
Talk about an important molecule!
The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn't nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.
While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.
Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It's actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)? 'Cause that's where it's made!
What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn't need to make as much.
As with almost everything in health and wellness there's a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.
People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.
Don't start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.
And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don't seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.
Guess what does?
Nutrition and exercise, baby!
One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies. I mean lots, say up to 10 servings a day. Every day.
Don't worry check out my delicious recipe for Orange Hemp Salad Dressing that should help you add at least another salad to your day.
You can (should?) also exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.
The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we're learning more every day. You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are. And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.
Your content here...
Stress - we deal with it on a regular basis and hear about it all the time. It’s in the news. We read about it in magazines and see it talked about online. Your doctor may even have talked with you about controlling your stress levels. But, is it really such a big deal?
So what is stress anyway? The Miriam Webster dictionary defines stress as “a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.”
I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that this definition included the less obvious result of stress, which can, in fact, be disease. Not that I’m happy about stress causing disease, but I think most people don’t realize the huge impact it can have on our health. The definition went on to show examples of using the word ‘stress’ in a sentence, which was also appropriate for this session. “Hormones are released into the body in response to emotional stress."
So, as you probably guessed, the answer to the question “Is stress a big deal?” is “Yes” - IF you care about your health.
Stress may be caused by external or internal events or actions. Listed below are the 7 most common causes of stress.
“When you encounter a perceived threat - a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance - your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system - and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones - can disrupt almost all your body's processes”
The long-term activation of the stress-response system - and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones - can disrupt almost all your body's processes.
This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
• Digestive problems
• Heart disease
• Sleep problems
• Weight gain
• Memory and concentration impairment
Source: Mayo Clinic
The resulting hormonal imbalances (involving cortisol and insulin, in particular) and chronic low-grade inflammation can set the stage for the development of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and other chronic diseases. Chronic stress can also make you more susceptible to colds, flus and other infections. And physical stress disrupts physiological homeostasis in a number of ways (including the hormonal and inflammatory pathways) that may affect your energy level in an adverse way.
The effects of stress can also effect your state of mind, impairing your working memory and your ability to control your impulses. It also increases the risk of anxiety and depression. In addition, unbridled stress can sap your energy and undermine your motivation and resolve to make or stick with healthy lifestyle changes.
In fact, research from the University of California, San Francisco, found that people who reported higher levels of stress had a greater drive to eat, including disinhibited eating, binge eating, hunger, more ineffective attempts to control their eating, all of which can promote weight gain.
Source: Dr. David Katz, Author, Disease-Proof
Did you realize that stress could wreak so much havoc? Pretty incredible!
Now that we know it can negatively affect many bodily processes including digestion, nutrient absorption, hormones, blood pressure, appetite control, aging and memory, we can put it towards the top of our list of things to address.
It’s not realistic to eliminate all stress from our lives, of course, but there are plenty of things we can do to minimize it. The first step is deciding that it’s important enough to do. Children learn from our example and I think the hectic pace we live in is setting them up for duplicating this pattern (and thinking it’s perfectly normal and okay).
I think oftentimes we minimize the amount of stress we’re under because we aren’t even fully conscious of it. I’ve been guilty of this myself. It’s easy sometimes to take to on too much. When we do, we often end up with a schedule that is way too busy, find ourselves running in circles and feel like we’re not getting much accomplished – and, this stresses us out even more! We ultimately pay the price with relationship issues, poor diet, health and time management issues … or worse!
We’re going to cover some ideas to help reduce stress but the first thing I’d like to address is probably the most important thing you can do starting today. It’s simple, you already do it every day – but once you do more of it and do it consistently, you’re likely to notice a huge difference in how you feel. So what the solution? Get more sleep!
How is getting enough sleep going to help with stress?
You may be surprised.
You’ve Heard People Say That Sleep Is Overrated ….or Is It?
“Inadequate slumber over extended periods of time may interfere with immune function, including production of white blood cells and hormonal regulation, which is why sufficient sleep is linked with chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
This also leads to impaired immunity and elevated levels of hormones such as insulin, increasing the risk of gaining body fat (most often in the midsection) and of developing systemic inflammation and type 2 diabetes. It also leads to changes in the hormone leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and satiety.” - Dr. David Katz, Disease-Proof
Included in this session are suggestions on how to improve your sleep, but the first one is making it a big enough priority and scheduling 7-9 hours to make sure it happens. This means planning ahead. If you need 8 hours of sleep and you have to be up by 6:00 a.m. you need to be ready for sleep by 10:00 pm. Some people do great on 7 hours and some need 8 or 9, so figure out what makes you feel the most rested.
“But, I Have So Much To Do!”
If you’re saying “But I can’t, I have way too much to do!” you should know that insufficient sleep decreases productivity, so by getting enough sleep, you can actually get more done in less time AND feel better while you’re doing it.
Here’s an all-too-common scenario:
You get to bed too late and when it’s time to wake up, your alarm goes off and you’re still tired and hit the snooze button one too many times. Now you’re running late. There’s no time for a decent breakfast, much less, time for packing a healthy lunch to take with you. You leave the house hungry and tired and arrive at work. The only ‘food’ available is whizzing through a drive through, something in a vending machine, the donuts someone else brought into the office or worse, you just have time to grab some coffee.
Now, you’re dragging all day with low energy because this is not the first night this week you haven’t had enough sleep. Somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 you’re ready to crash, so you grab the closest thing you can find with sugar to keep you going a while longer. And, you may grab another cup of coffee. You leave work way too tired to stop at the gym to exercise or have the incentive to go for a walk when you get home. You grab a quick, highly processed snack to get you through until dinner.
If this pattern is repeated often enough over the course of weeks or months, you can imagine where this will lead you. Many of us are operating this way on a regular basis. It’s stressful and it’s wreaking havoc on us in every possible way. It may have started as a result of a particular event or short-term project, but then became a habit. However, the more we become aware of the things we do that have us on the road to depleting our health, the easier it is to make a change.
Scenario #2 – Imagine this!
You get 7-9 hours of sleep and sleep straight through. You wake up rested, refreshed and ready to take on the day. You hop out of bed, drink your water, have a healthy breakfast, arrive at work on time relaxed and feeling productive. You have a balanced, healthy lunch that gives you sustained energy for the rest of the afternoon. No mid-afternoon crash. No snacks or coffee are needed nor craved. You’ve either worked out before you got to work or you have energy to work out after. You go home and are happy to make a balanced, healthy dinner and enjoy time with your family. You still feel good. You get to bed by 10:00 or at the latest 11:00 p.m. so you get in your amount of needed sleep. Now, THAT’S a great day!
Do you see how the way you wake up each morning affects your entire day? It all starts with how rested you are when you wake up and that depends on the amount and quality of sleep you get. When we are fully rested, it also allows us to handle stress better. Adequate sleep helps us recover from stress too. When we’re asleep, our bodies have a chance to rest, repair, detox and recover.
Even though sleep may seem to be a passive and dormant state, there is much activity going on in the brain during different sleep cycles that affect different needs of the body and the mind. Without sufficient time for these things, we run into problems and our health and emotional state can suffer.
Look at the areas of your life that are causing you stress.
For example: Look at your calendar and see what you have going on each day in the coming month. If you (and your spouse and/or kids) are completely overbooked, is there a solution? Maybe this means taking a step down from certain obligations or activities. Perhaps working out a car pool would be helpful for some things.
Don’t let your schedule run YOU – decide how YOU can run your schedule. It may mean making some changes or adjustments, and possibly eliminating some commitments. You may even need to ask for help! In the long run, freeing up your schedule to decrease stress is worth it. You can have a family meeting to figure out solutions that may work for everyone. It doesn’t have to be all up to you to decide. It’s okay to delegate.
What do you really want for your life? Is your schedule a reflection of that?
If not, are there changes you can make?
Are you running your schedule or is your schedule running you?
TIP: Learn how to not say ‘yes’ right away. And, know that it’s okay to say no.
People can have a hard time saying ‘no’ when they’re asked to help with something. Yes, it is important for everyone to have a way to contribute, but it becomes a problem when you’re over extended. Especially when you end up dreading your commitment, find yourself run ragged or don’t have enough time for your family – or worse yet yourself!
A great idea is to reply with something like, “Thanks for asking. Let me check my schedule and get back to you.” This way, you don’t have to say ‘no’ and you’ll have time to see if this fits into your schedule or not. Stay firm. Evaluate your time, your commitments and your highest values. If you have the time and you want to do it, then great. If not, you can let the person know that as much as you’d like to help, right now you’re not able to.
Figuring it out
We’ve looked at common causes of stress and the number one way to help deal with it, which is getting enough sleep. This is also a good time to go back and look at your priorities and goals worksheet. Many times, stress is caused when our priorities are not aligned with how we’re spending our time.
I’ve included a Life Balance worksheet with this session so you can look at the ways you are currently spending your time and how that lines up with your life priorities. When we become clearer on our priorities, decisions are a bit easier to make.
Where do you do your best thinking or get your best ideas? It’s usually when things are quiet and you’re alone. Find some quiet time to figure out the best way to reduce some of the stress in your life and understand that it’s really important to your health.
Self-care is about taking good care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.
So why do so many of us put ourselves at the bottom of the list of priorities?
Taking care of ourselves should be at the top of the list since this allows us to be able to care for others better. It’s not selfish to want to feel amazing. When we’re at our best, we can give our best and we have more to give. Something as simple as taking a class or enjoying a little quiet time a few times a week may be all you need.
Find what you enjoy doing and what recharges you. How can you fit this into your schedule? Maybe for now it can only be 30 minutes twice a week, but that’s a start.
Do you need some ideas? Download this quick guide providing you with 22 Ways to Take Care of Yourself NOW
Do you have strategies in place for managing stress? Help others and share in the comments below.
In addition to the foods we ingest, toxins can find their way into our bodies through household cleaners, makeup, perfume, shampoos and conditioners, plastic containers, pathogens and unwanted bacteria in food an soil, chemicals from the paint in your home and the carpet on your floor, and a host of environmental pollutants. The liver has to process ALL of these toxins.
The above list are just some of the possible signs of toxicity, but this list is far from exhaustive. The bottom line is that cleansing is important for everyone. Even if you eat "clean", which means you are consistently eating food in its most natural state, we all have some level of toxicity due to environmental factors.
Detoxification is one of the body's most innate functions to keep healthy - it is as basic to us as breathing. In order to protect us from harmful substances that find their way in, our bodies naturally detoxify each and every day. It eliminates wastes through the kidneys, colon, liver, lungs, lymph and skin. Ideally we would live in a pollution-free wold, but his is unfortunately not our reality today.
Despite our best efforts to eat healthy by choosing organic or fresh food we still need support our organs and cleanse it on a consistent basis to maintain optimal health. The build-up of toxins puts a burden on our cells, which leads to an unhelathy body. In order to bring the body back into balance, we must choose to eat clean regularly and cleanse our bodies to eliminate wastes. Simply put: disease is not found in healthy tissues.
Did you know the body can carry up to 15 pounds of toxic waste? The right cleansing program will strengthen digestion and decrease inflammation, thereby reducing inflammation and bloating in the body.
Any healthy cleansing program should address the following:
Don't worry you don't have to go through life feeling sick and bloated all of the time. Listed below are 5 steps you can take to reduce toxicity in your body.