Monday, October 31, 2011

10-Minute Meditations to Beat the Stress

We all know stress is bad for our health. And whether it's the news headlines, the morning school-prep rush, that looming deadline at work, or discovering an empty refrigerator at 6pm, working moms often have more than the average number of stress triggers. But what can we do about it? Especially if we don't have time for hour-long yoga classes, long candle-lit baths, or weekends at the spa - some of the usual stress-management recommendations? Current medical research is very clear—techniques that fall into the category of 'mindfulness-based stress-reduction' (MBSR) are the most effective. These are techniques that reverse our body’s stress response, and instead trigger its natural relaxation response. When we are stressed, levels of certain chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol elevate in our blood, we take shorter breaths, and our muscles tense. When we are relaxed, the opposite occurs. The value of MBSR techniques is that they can halt the momentum of our body’s physiological response to stress, and elicit some or all of its relaxation response. So what exactly is MBSR? Meditation. Not the sit-and-gaze-at-your-navel kind of meditation, but the take-a-moment-to-breathe kind—in short, the kind any of us can do, anywhere. Below are ten brief MBSR techniques you can do, for just a minute at a time, to help stop your stress response in its tracks. 1. Belly Breathing: Place your hands over your belly, and take 5-10 deep breaths, taking special care to expand your belly with each inhalation instead of your chest. This forces your diaphragm down, allowing your lungs to take in more air - a powerful method for immediately calming your body. 2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Close your eyes and focus your attention on your facial muscles. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, imagine all these muscles relaxing. Then move your attention down to your neck and shoulder muscles, take another breath, and imagine the tension releasing from that area. Continue scanning down your entire body, breath by breath. In addition to being a stress-buster, this particular technique is excellent for helping you fall asleep quickly after a busy day. 3. Visualization Vacation: Visualizing a soothing scene is a great way to halt the stress response, and using a memory of an actual scene from your past is particularly effective, because many of the neurotransmitters triggered during the original experience are also triggered when you remember it in detail. Pick a favorite vacation moment – sitting on a beach at sunset, for example – and try and reconstruct what you saw, heard, smelled, and felt. 4. Favorite Word: Word repetition is another great MBSR technique. Simply pick a word that represents the opposite of whatever difficult emotion is related to your stress. Feeling angry? Try ‘peace’. Depressed? Try ‘joy’. Discouraged? Try ‘optimistic’. Just repeat your word to yourself 10-20 times under your breathe. 5. Heat of the Sun: Nature has a soothing effect, but you probably can’t wander a forest or the beach in the middle of your workday. Instead, try stepping outside for just a minute, and focus your attention on the feeling of the sun as it hits some part of your body. Imagine the heat of the sun melting away your tension. 6. Breeze of Insight: Another effective natural element you can focus on during brief excursions outdoors is the wind, or breeze. Face away from it for a moment and imagine it is blowing away your stress. Then face into it, and imagine it is blowing in relaxation. 7. Take a Hike: Walking meditations are particularly effective, because the movement helps take the edge of the restless feeling that often accompanies tension. A quick walk around the parking lot at work, or even down the hall, can help, if you make an effort to shift your mind away from the source of your stress. Try paying special attention to each of your senses in turn – note everything you see in great detail, and then everything you hear, then smell, and so on. 8. Find the Love: Sometimes just reminding yourself of your emotional support structure can help calm your nerves. Close your eyes and visualize someone dear to you (children are great) in an affectionate moment. Hold that thought as you take a few deep breaths. 9. Gratitude: Another emotional shifter is gratitude. In the midst of a crises, taking a few moments out to remind yourself of all the good elements in your life can help you re-center. Make a mental list of all the people, things, and experiences you are grateful for. 10. Self-Distancing: A little more abstract, this technique is often used in anger management programs. When you start to feel angry, take a moment and mentally ask the question ‘Who is it that is feeling angry?’ The idea is to begin to separate yourself from your own angry emotion, strengthening your self-awareness and impulse control. Over time, you can refine your ability to choose which emotions you want to draw upon, and which you want to let recede. Regardless of what technique you choose, the important thing is not to turn your stress-busters into stress-creators! In other words, don’t judge your efforts, and don’t get caught up in trying to find the perfect setting or time. Bathrooms stalls, parked cars, or even your office chair, are all you need to practice most of these techniques. Just set aside one minute, pick your method, and let yourself relax. 

This post was written by Lisa Erickson for WorkingMother.com.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pray for What You Already Have

An excerpt from "One-Minute Mindfulness"

The next minute is not what we think it will be — not even close. But it can be what we decide to focus on. If we constantly look for what’s missing from our lives — that big house, dream car, perfect relationship, ideal job — then the upcoming minute might be filled with regret, remorse, sadness, frustration and hopelessness. If we consistently appreciate what is currently before us and available in our lives — the car that runs, the roof over our head, the job that provides resources and the relationships we do have, most importantly with ourselves — then we spare ourselves disappointment.

I was running a workshop when I met Hannah, a 50-year-old nutritionist, and one of the topics was overcoming depression through gratitude. During the break, Hannah approached me, held out her right arm, and pointed to a bracelet adorning her wrist. Dangling from the bracelet were all the letters of the alphabet. She proceeded to tell me the story behind this bracelet. For years she struggled with depression and anger because of a highly stressful job and some unhealthy relationships. Antidepressants had come and gone, but nothing seemed to work. By the midpoint of her life, Hannah, by her own admission, was not a pleasant person to be around. She could have just shut down; instead, she placed her faith in bringing gratitude to what was already in her life. This shift gradually and dramatically altered her experience of the stream of minutes that followed. Hannah smiled as she told me, “The change was so obvious that people at work asked me if I was taking medication. I think they were hoping it was something they could take.” To stay connected to her practice of gratitude, Hannah uses her bracelet and a journaling exercise in which she chooses a different letter of the alphabet and records all the things she’s grateful for that begin with that letter.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the ruts in your life by covering them up with chocolate frosting. That would leave you with a chocolate-covered rut. But at the same time, the rut is not all there is. Would you agree that this very minute the path is also paved and can be navigated without driving over the ruts? This is within our control. To understand where you are placing your awareness and to recognize the ruts, take the following one-minute mindfulness inventory.

What is missing?
• Do I tend to focus on what I don’t have? If so, how is this affecting my relationships?
• What do I think is missing in my life?
• How do I feel when I place my awareness on what’s missing?

What is present and available?
• What is present and available to me?
• How can I begin to redirect my awareness to the gifts I have?
• How does looking at what is in my life make me feel? Does it give me hope and energy?
• How will feeling this way affect my relationships?

I am reminded of the film Under the Tuscan Sun, in which the heroine, played by Diane Lane, moves to Italy after her divorce. The things she wishes to have in her life — people to cook for, a family and a wedding — manifest in such unexpected ways that she doesn’t immediately recognize that they are present. When her realization dawns, she glows with peace, joy and wholeness.

This post was written by Donald Altman for blog.gaiam.com.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Parmesan Potato Bites

Servings: 15



Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds potato, red new

3/4 teaspoon olive oil

3/8 cup onion, minced

3/8 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/16 teaspoon salt and white pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon sage




Preparation

1. Cook potatoes in boiling water 15 minutes or until tender; drain.


2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, red peppers, 
salt/pepper, and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender.


3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


4. Cut potatoes in half; carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4 inch
shell. Mash potato pulp with a fork; stir in cheese and sage. Add to onion
mixture, stirring well. Spoon 1 tablespoon potato mixture into each shell.
 Arrange stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake until lightly browned.




Serving Size: 3 stuffed halves


Per Serving: 48 calories
1g fat (12.6% calories from fat)
2g protein
9g 
carbohydrate
1g dietary fiber
1mg cholesterol
34 mg sodium.




This recipe from The Heartland Spa Chef, Barb Peters, was taken from HealingLifestyles.com. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't Let Stress Win Out

When life gets too fast-paced, chill out with these easy ways to a calmer and healthier you. 

Q: I'm constantly juggling, which can be stressful. How can I relax more?
A: For most of us, stress is a fact of life. In a recent national health study, 78 percent of women said that they regularly experience stress or anxiety. Research indicates that working moms are the most highly stressed group compared with men and other women. But there's a lot you can do to manage and even prevent anxious feelings.
Keep your surroundings soothing. Sunlight increases the brain's levels of the calming chemical serotonin, so take your breaks outside or at least near a window. Surround yourself with calming colors like lavender and blue instead of high-energy colors like red and orange. Minimize irritating background noises like ringing telephones and office machines by closing your door, getting a sound machine or even using earplugs.
Get moving. Regular exercise, such as brisk walking, running or bike riding, stimulates the brain to produce mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins.
Eat right. Limit caffeine intake to no more than four beverages a day and keep refined sugar in your diet to a minimum. Caffeine can increase your heart rate, and sugar can lead to elevated levels of the stress hormone adrenaline in your body. Try substituting peppermint tea for a cup of coffee. And avoid skipping meals, which lowers blood sugar and elevates adrenaline.
Sleep at least seven to eight hours. When you're not rested, it's easy to become irritable and stressed because you have less energy to deal with problems.
Plug into pals. Make time to talk and meet with friends. Research shows that having a support system can reduce the effects of stress. Acknowledging the stressors in your life can help you find solutions and feel less alone.
Tighten your to-do list. Strive to be a good working mom, not a perfect one. Do your best to plan ahead and stay organized, which will help you feel more in control. And pick your priorities before you say yes to every request you get, say, from your child's school or from work.
Take breaks throughout the day. No matter how swamped you are, take a deep breath and stretch, even if it's just for a minute or so.
Find time for yourself. Rather than considering time for yourself as another item on your to-do list, think of it as doing something you love, even for just a few minutes. For instance, listen to your favorite music at your desk. Get up ten minutes earlier than the rest of your family to watch the sun rise. Stock your bedside table with a paperback to enjoy at the end of the day. And when you can, schedule longer pleasure times to meet a friend for lunch (remember that support system?), participate in a book club or get a massage. Take a break once in a while, and everyone in your life will reap the benefits.
Q: I've heard that some stress is good for you, but I've also heard a lot about how it can be bad for your health. Which is true?
A: Both. Short-term stress can be a terrific motivator at work, urging you to meet deadlines or complete time-sensitive tasks like writing a memo or polishing up a presentation. On the other hand, some health problems have been associated with prolonged stress. These include elevated blood pressure, which can increase your risk for health problems such as heart disease and stroke, a weakened immune system, infertility, headaches and stomach ailments. Stress can also disrupt sleep, trigger skin inflammations like hives, rashes and acne (possibly due to elevated stress hormones) and exacerbate existing conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or eczema. Weight gain is another problem: Research shows that women tend to make unhealthy dietary choices when they're stressed and may eat food more quickly. Plus, some research suggests that chronic stress can elevate the body's cortisol level, which may cause fat to accumulate around the stomach. One study on mothers found that those with the most stress had changes in their chromosomes that were equal to having aged nine to 17 years. And mentally, stress can lead to moodiness, depression, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. However, in a surprising and welcome development, research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle finds little to support the widely perceived link between stress and cancer—giving us one less thing to stress about! 
Our Expert: Jay Winner, MD, family physician, director of the stress-management program at the Sansum-Santa Barbara Medical Foundation Clinic and author of Stress Management Made Simple: Effective Ways to Beat Stress for Better Health.

This post was written by Michele Bender for WorkingMother.com.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Neroli

-Promotes relaxation
-Promotes deep and restful sleep
-Boosts confidence and self-esteem
-Relieves chronic stress, anxiety and depression
-Soothes and rejuvenates skin

Friday, October 21, 2011

Find Sleep When You Need It Most


Natural Sleep Techniques

While lifestyle and environmental factors play a major part in the rest that we get, our minds often get the last word on how well we’ll sleep.

“Many of my patients will tell me they just want to shut off the switch in their brain that’s causing them to worry and think too much,” says Lawton, “Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.”

To help patients get some rest (without the use of prescription medications), sleep specialists and naturopaths will often suggest a series of activities or exercises designed to relax the mind and take the focus off the day’s stressful events. Here are some of their most reliable sleep techniques.

Create a pre-sleep routine “You need transitional downtime—you can’t just switch from ‘worry, worry, worry’ straight into soothing sleep,” says Joanne Getsy, medical director at the Drexel Sleep Center in Philadelphia. Make a cup of decaf tea, climb into cozy pajamas, and read an article in your favorite magazine. By creating a short wind down ritual, you’ll signal to your body that its time to enter rest mode. 

Turn on the steam heat Taking a hot bath or shower can depress the nervous system and encourage the muscles to relax. “At first this can be stimulating and wake you up, but after about twenty minutes, you’ll feel yourself start to get very drowsy,” say Lawton. The scent of lavender can also be relaxing, so try to find a bath product, which features it as a key ingredient. 

Offer yourself hypnotic suggestions Your brain can either work against you—or for you—in bed. Clear away stressful daytime thoughts by replacing them with those more conducive to sleep. “Tell yourself that you’re feeling incredibly tired, that your eyelids and body are getting heavy,” says Lawton. “Once you’ve given your brain the suggestion, the body quickly follows.”

Engage in deep breathing Allow yourself to expel the stress you’ve been holding onto by exhaling it out. To begin, get settled on your back and rest your hands lightly on your belly. “Inhale slowly, feeling your hands lift on your stomach as you draw air in. Hold it for a moment; then slowly let it out. The act of deep breathing can be surprisingly emotional, so take as few or as many breaths as you feel comfortable with,” suggests Fleishmann.

Think of calming visuals “Creating an image in your mind can help lead you away from stressful thoughts and into a dream-like state,” says Getsy. “Some people like to imagine walking along a path near the ocean, while others might think of making snow angels in winter.” She suggests choosing a visual that’s soothing and relaxing, and if you’re inclined, building a simple story around it.

Get Moving Engaging in stretches, poses, and guided relaxation just before bedtime can help release the day’s tension, preparing you for a restorative night’s sleep. If you’re not already a practiced yogi, follow along with movement expert Ann Dyer in zYoga: The Yoga Sleep Ritual for a combination that will take you from type A to Zzz in fifty minutes or less. 


Supplementing Sleep

Taking sleeping pills isn’t the only way to tackle symptoms of insomnia. These natural remedies can help speed you towards dreamland, without a prescription.

Chamomile  If you’re feeling agitated, brew a pot of tea made from the leaves of this fragrant herb. A strong cup can soothe aching muscles and relieve stress, enabling you to fall asleep.

Kava Root This member of the pepper family is a natural relaxant, which can have a therapeutic effect on your body. Take care to consume products made from the root only, as those made with the leaves and stem could have adverse side effects.

Valerian  A non-addictive sedative with anti-anxiety benefits, valerian can keep you from feeling wired and worried, reducing the amount of time it takes you to drift off at bedtime.

Melissa Extract Also called Lemon Balm (thanks to its citrus-like scent), this member of the mint family works to relax agitated nerves and encourage proper digestion.



This is an excerpt from Enter Sandman: Find Sleep When You Need It Most, written by Amanda Pressner for HealingLifestyles.com.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mint



Mint helps open the mind and calm the nerves.  Having antioxidant properties, mint is excellent for the sinuses. Mint is a natural diuretic, breath freshener and a beneficial remedy for digestive problems.  Mint also acts as an antiseptic for sun burn, bug bites and other skin irritations.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lower Back Massage

Lower Back massages relieve tension while stretching and relaxing the body. 

Technique: Begin by rolling a towel and placing it on the floor. Lie down on the floor with your lower back positioned over the towel. Use your feet to slowly slide back and forth over the towel to stretch your muscles. (You may also use a tennis ball, but you may need to cover it with a towel if it feels too hard.)

Now, roll onto your side and use your free arm to knead your back along the side of your spine. Repeat this several times, then roll over
and complete on the opposite side. 

End by slowly standing, reach behind your back with both hands and firmly slide them down toward your buttocks. Repeat this several times, decreasing the pressure each time until you are just brushing the skin.

An alternative technique would be to use a tennis ball while standing against a wall. Place the tennis ball in a long sock or inside of pantyhose and lean on it against the wall. Focus on tense or extremely sore areas, but do not press directly upon your spine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unplug: How to Take a Techno-Fast

Recently, I walked into my local coffee shop and noticed something interesting: it was full of people, but few were actually talking to one another. One couple shared a table, absorbed in individual laptops, others sat solo—plugged into earphones, texting on cell phones or ‘catching up’ on social networking sites. It struck me as ironic, here were all these people more caught up in their virtual communities than the real one. 
Obviously this isn’t just a local phenomenon, nor is it limited to coffee shops—it happens on street corners, in airports and parks, and on the bus and train, even at home. The more privileged among us have televisions throughout our houses, GPS systems and DVD players in our cars, and miniature computers in everything from our kitchen stoves to our portable music devices. As a tool, technology is invaluable, but when is enough, enough?

Claudia Dunn, Occupational Therapist and Lifestyle Consultant at the California Health and Longevity Institute notes, “Though our interactive experience has gotten richer in recent years as a result of the convenience and connectivity so many technological devices afford us, it’s also a tremendous distraction.” For cell phone and “smart” phone users, it’s a distraction that is particularly dangerous while driving, but overuse of technology—whether it be television, radio, computers, cell phones or the internet—is also damaging to relationships, as well as mental and emotional health. Dunn observes, “It can get to the point where we find ourselves interacting more often with digital interfaces than with the human beings in our lives.” Plus, she adds, “Many report their anxiety associated with even the thought of separation from the ‘fix’ of checking their email (etc.) incessantly has taken on all the qualities of addiction.”

Consider for a moment how use of technology relates to consumption of food. To be healthy, we want to take in well-rounded meals, drink plenty of water and moderate our intake of fats and sugars. For optimum health, we choose organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. We ask questions about where our food comes from, and maybe even choose to eat what is currently in season. When it comes to using technology, we should be just as mindful. Television and radio news programs notoriously report the worst of all the bad, scary and generally awful events happening locally and globally. As Dunn argues, “Research shows that due to recently discovered ‘mirror neurons’ in the nervous system, even the passive consumption of ‘toxic’ media can register as vividly as what we actually experience.” She adds, “Psychologists hold that the repercussions of such consumption on a daily basis can foster feelings of depression, paralysis or an attitude of cynicism.”

The effects of overusing technology are perhaps more subtle than those from eating too many French fries, but the consequences to our health are comparable. Aside from the detrimental behaviors associated with any addiction and the well-documented physical maladies, like eye-strain and repetitive use injuries, linked to hours in front of a screen, using technology for written communication lacks the tone, body language, gestures and facial expressions that give such depth of meaning to words. Constantly tuning in to music, radio or television eliminates time for quiet self-reflection and contemplation, and limits opportunities for conversation. Habitually spending time in front of the computer or the television before bed has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns, not just as you are falling asleep, but all night. Emotionally, Dunn adds, “Coupled with the generally accepted perception that being constantly connected is associated with being successful, in demand and valued, one’s self esteem can become intertwined with one’s degree of device connectivity at any given time. Many relationships too are transformed to being maintained and nurtured more often virtually than in reality.”

To begin to unplug, first it’s important to have a realistic awareness of just how much you use technology currently. Try keeping a journal or notepad with you and for 24 hours jot down how much time is spent checking your email, listening to the radio, talking on the phone or sending text messages. Note television, computer, mp3 player and video game use too. Tally the number of minutes and hours you spent interfacing with technology. You’ll probably be shocked at how much of your waking life is ‘plugged in.’

Next, make a commitment to reduce your consumption of technology overall, by designating certain times for checking email, returning phone calls, catching up on social media, watching television and listening to the radio. Or take it a step further and eliminate use of all devises a couple hours a day, or even one day each week. Dunn says, “The key is to begin by setting appropriate expectations. If you set the expectation that you are perpetually available, then you’ll be treated as such.”

Finally, consider taking a scheduled technology fast—at least 24 hours free of any devices. You don’t have to wait for a vacation to do this—anytime will do. Dunn suggests, “Post on your social networking site (like Facebook), your status saying you’ll be off your phone and computer for 24 hours....” Change your voicemail message and email rule settings to let people know that you’re unavailable right now and when they can expect a response from you. As for the TV, radio, and other tech-toys? Put small things away, out of sight. Cover your TV or computer screen with a lovely scarf or lightweight blanket. Unplug anything else that you might turn on out of habit. Then ask yourself, what’s been missing from my life that I haven’t had time for? Whether its tending the garden, playing with your kids or nurturing a hobby, dive in. Get outside, take a hike, have lunch with a friend, read a good book. As Dunn says, “When not distracted by perpetual incoming stimuli, we have a chance to reconnect with the living, breathing people in our lives, catch our breaths and replenish our souls.”

Above all, use the time to contemplate your relationship with technology. Just like with any fast, you’ll become clear on what you miss most, what you can live without, and which choices you are making out of habit rather than true purpose or productivity. As Dunn notes, “Ultimately, if you’re feeling enslaved by devices and information, you’ll want to change your unhealthy relationship with media and technology rather than throw the baby out with the bath water. After the initial withdrawal period, you will find that you have taken back control of the role devices play in your life, using them as tools that serve you rather than a controlling force that must be tended to.”

Just like habitually eating fast food or reaching for a candy bar in the middle of the afternoon, unconscious use of technology has real and measurable effects on our health. And though many consider these tools indispensable, finding ways to moderate how and when you connect, tune in and plug in allows for a greater sense of personal freedom and more balance in day-to-day life, not to mention a closer feeling of true connection with those around you.



This post was written by Tanya Triber for HealingLifestyles.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10 Thoughts on Whole Living

1 A MEAL SHARED WITH FAMILY
AND FRIENDS SUSTAINS YOU
IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.


2 Gratitude cannot 
always change 
circumstance, but 
it can help you 
see beyond them.
3 WITH REJECTION 
COMES A DECISION: 
YOU CAN EITHER TURN 
BACK OR FIND A NEW 
WAY FORWARD.
4 Feeling restless may be a sign that 
you haven’t sat still long enough.
5 Stop seeing 
life as a 
problem to 
be solved and, 
instead, as 
a mystery to 
be enjoyed.

6 SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO 
TRAVEL TO A NEW PLACE TO 
REDISCOVER THE OLD YOU.




7 TO MAKE THE BEST USE 
OF YOUR INTUITION, THINK 
LESS AND LISTEN MORE.
8 GIVE ABOVE AND BEYOND 
WHAT YOU THINK WILL HELP.
9 Rather than worry 
about how your body 
should look, focus on 
how you want it to feel.
10 Virtuous and delicious aren’t mutually 
exclusive; the most nourishing foods 
can also be the most delightful.

This post was written by Terri Trespicio for Whole LivingMagazine.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili



Because they're high in soluble fiber, beans are a cholesterol fighter's best friend. We like the black-bean and chickpea combination, but feel free to use your favorites.








Ingredients

Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14. 5 ounces) stewed tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (19 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (19 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges for serving
Directions
  1. In a Dutch oven or 5-quart saucepan with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add squash, bell pepper, and chile powder; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with a spoon; add chickpeas, black beans, 1/4 cup cilantro, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until lightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining cilantro and spoon into serving bowls. Serve with lime wedges.


This post was taken from WholeLiving.com:  Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili 

Friday, October 14, 2011

5 Delicious, Healthy and Easy to Make Dairy-Free Smoothie Recipes



Smoothies are a wonderful way to sneak nutrients into a diet, and you can make endless variations. My trick is, don’t use ice, but use frozen fruit. In one fell swoop, you get the fruit and the ice and so much more flavor. Plus, frozen fruit often tastes better than fresh because they are picked at their ripest and sweetest, and they require no cleaning or rinsing. Bananas got too ripe? Just stick them in the freezer, the riper the better, and when you need them, run them under warm water—the peels will come right off. Make a large smoothie batch and save the rest for later in the blender. If the mixture separates, give the blender a few turns again. 
Berry Smoothies
Makes 5 cups
1 cup cranberry or pomegranate juice
1 cup silken tofu, soy or other non-dairy milk (rice, grain, oat, almond)
2 cups frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, alone or in any combination)
2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or cranberry or pomegranate concentrate (health food stores), only if you like it sweeter
Mix all ingredients in the blender a full minute at high speed until smooth and frothy.
Green Smoothies
Try your best to stick some of the fruit in the freezer for an hour before blending. No need to have all of these fruit on hand; even a combination of two in larger amounts will be delicious.
Makes 5 cups
1 cup green grapes
1 large pear or green apple, unpeeled, cut in chunks
3 ripe kiwis, peeled
1 cup chunks honeydew melon
1 cup white grape juice or natural apple cider
A few leaves fresh mint, if you have them on hand
Mix all ingredients in the blender a full minute at high speed until smooth and frothy.
Chocolate Almond Date Smoothie
Consider this a whole meal. Nutritious and fabulous! This is the only smoothie I use ice with, to chill the heated mixture.
Makes 5 cups
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup pitted dates, packed
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1 cup silken tofu, soy or any other non-dairy milk (rice, grain, oat, almond)
A dozen ice cubes
Place the almonds, dates, cocoa, and water in the blender. Cover and let the mixture rest, unblended, 5 to
10 minutes. Add the tofu or milk and ice and blend a full minute at high speed until thick and frothy.
Tropical Smoothies
If you decide to get a little naughtier with this smoothie, add 1/2 cup dark rum. You know how the saying goes: If you can’t go to the tropics…
Makes about 6 cups
2 cups canned unsweetened pineapple chunks, juice and all
1 cup coconut milk
3 cups cubed mango, papaya, or peaches: try your best for frozen
1 banana: try your best for frozen
Mix all ingredients in the blender a full minute at high speed until smooth and frothy.
Beet Smoothies
Here is your chance to eat your beets! Who knew they were so delicious? I did; we grew up eating them every day. In America, they are sometimes treated like a poor stepchild of the vegetable family. I think it is time to adopt them wholeheartedly. They are so good for you.
Makes 1 serving
1 small can beets, juice and all
1 cup tofu or unflavored soy yogurt
Mix all ingredients in the blender a full minute at high speed until smooth and frothy.


This post was written by Levana Kirshenbaum for blog.gaiam.com.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cinnamon


Cinnamon is known for its warming qualities.  Having been highly prized since ancient times, cinnamon was considered a gift fit for kings.  Cinnamon contains antibacterial and antifungal properties and has demonstrated an ability to lower blood sugar levels.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bath Time

Hydrotherapy in the form of a warm bath or a hot tub, promotes relaxation and stress relief.  As a form of external hydrotherapy, bathing allows water to gently or vigorously massage the body, soothe tired muscles, relieve aches and pains, and increase circulation.


This partial immersion of the body into either a warm bath or a hot tub, may also include the use of minerals, oils, mud, or herbs to enhance the experience and increase therapeutic benefits.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Red Bell Pepper

The Red Bell Pepper is packed with vitamin C and beta-carotene which fortifies the immune system and is useful in warding off infections.  Red bell peppers contain lycopene, an antioxidant with anticancer properties.  Red bell peppers also help flush out toxins from the body with its high water content. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Patchouli

-Calms stress and anxiety
-Alleviates fatigue
-Lessens confusion and depression
-Promotes regrowth of skin cells
-Great for dry, cracked skin, as well as to reduce acne, eczema, and dandruff
-Acts as an aphrodisiac

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Celebration with Friends

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV


Yesterday, I enjoyed a beautiful wedding with very dear friends.  The union of marriage and the reunion with friends was a lovely expression of love, friendship, and unity.  It was great to be together, catching up and celebrating a wonderful occasion.  Encourage and build up the special people in your life.   You'll make lasting memories and one day, they'll return the favor.
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