Tag Archives: chocolate

The Closest We Can Get to Healthy Candy

Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 1.19.47 PMHealthy candy? Is there such thing? Well, not exactly, but some are better than others. These Chocolate Tahini cups have the goodness of tahini going for them, along with the antioxidants founds in good dark chocolate. Yes, there is sugar, and all sugars should be kept in check, but sometimes you have to live a little.

Candy is normally packed with GMO-High Fructose Corn Syrup, preservatives, “natural” flavors and dyes. So, when this time of year rolls around, I prefer to have a healthier alternative. Rather than keep my boys away from any candy at all (which frankly wouldn’t be any fun) I make candy like these chocolate tahini cups and sour gummy bears , or I order from www.naturalcandystore.com and ‘trade’ for the candy they get trick or treating.

Chocolate Tahini Cups

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Place paper mini muffin baking cups in a mini muffin tray.

Melt a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips on the stove. It only takes a couple of minutes. Stir the chips continuously and don’t let them burn!

Spoon out @3/4 of a teaspoon of melted chocolate into each paper baking cup.

Place tray in the refrigerator. Allow to cool for @5 minutes or until the chocolate is almost hard.

While the chocolate is cooling, mix the tahini, honey and salt together in a small bowl. You can use almond, cashew, peanut or sunflower butter in place of the tahini. I chose tahini because I love it’s nutrient profile plus, I am making these for my younger son’s school which is tree-nut free.

When the chocolate is nearly hard, spoon out @1/4 teaspoon of the tahini mixture into each baking cup.

Melt the remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate chips on the stove.

Spoon the newly melted chocolate on top of the mixture already in the baking cups.

Smooth the surface with the side of a spoon.

Put in the refrigerator to cool for @10 minutes or until chocolate is hard.

After the chocolate is completely hard, tear away the paper baking cups.

These can be kept in the fridge or on the counter.

Originally posted on my website Tapp’s Tips.com

Do you have any favorite chocolate or candy recipes? Share them in the comments below!

How To Make Easy & Healthy Ice Pops for Kids

choc-mint-ingredients-copy-1024x704We frequently have multiple extra kids in this house. I make ice pops by the dozen to keep them satiated until the next snack, which is usually about 15 minutes later!

I have lots of different, fun ice pop molds I use to make these special treats. I can freeze just about anything in an ice pop mold and my kids will eat it. I freeze almond milk, coconut water, kale berry smoothie and my kids go crazy for it. If it is cold and sweet and shaped like a lady bug, why wouldn’t they?

Here are two delicious ice pop recipes your kids will love. Feel free to experiment, try different ingredients, and have fun watching your kids go nuts for these sweet treats!

1. Chocolate Mint Pop

This chocolate mint pop is one of the most requested ones. They say “Uh, do you have one of those chocolatey minty ones?”

I love this simple, and tasty pop because it is so easy to make, and is rich in all things good. It combines fiber-rich coconut milk, anti-oxidant rich raw cacao and cleansing mint.

The kids take their pops, and giggling, run back into the summer sun. Life is good.

Ingredients:

  • coconut milk – full fat- 2 cups
  • raw cacao powder – 1 tablespoon
  • agave – 5 tablespoons
  • mint – fresh, chopped- 1/4 cup
  • himalaya salt – dash

Instructions:

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until completely smooth.

Pour into ice pop molds

Put in freezer for 6-8 hours.

Enjoy!

2. Fudge and Spinach Ice Pop

These fudge pops, combined with spinach – yes, spinach – are sweet and cold and chocolatey AND very nutritious. It’s a win win in my book – and theirs.

Ingredients:

  • coconut milk – 1/2 cup
  • raw cacao powder – 1/4 cup
  • mesquite powder – 2 tsp
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • vanilla – 1 tsp
  • agave – 2 tbsp
  • salt – dash
  • spinach – 2 cups, fresh or frozen

Instructions:

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds. Put them in the freezer for @ 8 hours. You will need to run hot water over the mold to get the pop out.

 

Have a favorite treat you like to make for your kids and their friends? Share with us in the comments below!

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

3 Mouthwatering Desserts You’d Never Guess Were Vegan

heart-pie-1024x7681I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that all vegan food is bland and boring. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! In my experience, it’s not hard to make delicious vegan food, and it starts with knowing how to work with a few key ingredients.

As a mom, I love making tasty desserts for everyone to indulge in, and there’s no reason these can’t be vegan. For vegan desserts, it’s a good idea to get comfortable with things like dates, cashews, and maple syrup – healthy, natural ingredients that will add sweetness, texture, and depth to your treats.

Here are three of my favorite dessert recipes – so gooey, delicious, and flavorful that no one will guess they’re vegan!

4-truffles-on-plate1. Chocolate Truffles

Yields @20 truffles

Ingredients:

  • dates – 1 cup
  • cashews – raw, 1/2 cup
  • almonds – raw, 1/2 cup
  • raw cacao powder – 3/4 cup
  • coconut – shredded, unsweetened 1/2 cup
  • maple syrup – 1/2 cup
  • vanilla extract – 2 teaspoons
  • salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • almonds – raw- extra 20 for inside truffles

For Topping:

  • coconut – shredded 1 tablespoon
  • cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • raw cacao powder – 1 teaspoon

Instructions:

In a high speed blender or food processor, blend together the dates, cashews and almonds until they form a crumble-paste. Add a little warm water if the paste is too thick – it shouldn’t be totally smooth and it shouldn’t be wet; it should be crumbly with nutty pieces in it.

Add the raw cacao powder and blend.

Add in the  maple syrup, vanilla, coconut and salt and blend until completely incorporated. Make sure you stop and scrape down the sides of the blender a few times to keep the mixture moving.

Measure the truffle mixture out as 1 tablespoon each.

If the dough is too sticky at this point, put it in the freezer for 10 minutes; it is easier to manage when it is cold.

Place one of the raw almonds into the middle of the truffle and roll into balls. Coat with shredded coconut, cinnamon or raw cacao.

I find the easiest way to coat the truffles is to put whatever topping you choose into a plastic or paper bag. One by one put the truffles in and shake. Kids LOVE this part.

While the truffles can be eaten right away, they are better when eaten cold. For best results, place the truffles in the freezer and allow them to harden for at least an hour. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months (though they would be lucky to last until the end of the day). Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

2. Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • Crust
  • pecans – 1 cup
  • sunflower seeds – 2 tbsp
  • medjool dates – 5 large, pitted
  • salt – pinch
  • water – 1 tsp
  • Filling
  • cashews – 2 cups
  • maple syrup – 2/3 cup
  • water – 3/4 cup
  • vanilla – 1 tbsp pure
  • raw cacao powder – 2/3 cup
  • himalaya salt – 1/8 tsp
  • coconut oil – 1/3 cup,melted
  • coconut butter – 1/4 cup, melted

Instructions:

Crust

In a high speed blender or food processor grind the pecans and sunflower seeds.

Chop the dates and add to the nuts and seeds with the salt. Grind again into crumbs.

Add the water and zap again until the mixture turns into a moist dough that holds together when pressed.

Press into the bottom of a spring form pan, mini pans, or small silicone muffin cups.

Set aside.

Filling

Blend all but the oil and butter until smooth and creamy in a high speed blender.

On stove stove, heat the oil and the butter until it is melted. Then, add to the mixture and blend again.

Pour over the crust.

Set in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

I add fresh fruit and coconut whipped cream for taste and decoration. It’s so much fun to play with and the fruit is perfect with the density and texture of the chocolate. Add the coconut whipped cream and you have yourself a winner. I have turned coconut haters into coconut lovers with this dessert. Really, it’s that good.

3. Chocolate Cashew Butter

Ingredients:

  • cashews – 1 cup
  • maple syrup – 1/3 cup
  • raw cacao powder – 1/2 cup
  • coconut oil – 2 tbsp
  • coconut butter – 1 tbsp
  • water – 1 tbsp
  • salt – dash

Instructions:

Add everything except the coconut butter and coconut oil to a high speed blender. Blend until completely smooth. Melt the oil and the butter on the stove and add to the blender and blend until the ingredients are combined.

Put in an airtight container (preferably glass). It will keep for a few months in the fridge or a few weeks in the pantry, though it won’t last that long. The jar is empty in about a week in our house. Spread on toast, dip fresh fruit in it, add it to coconut milk ice cream, quinoa crepes, waffles, use it as an icing or anything else you can imagine spreading chocolate on. Most of all, enjoy!

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

The Desserty Secret: Eat Your Sugar With Fiber

appleIn nature, sugar always come in a fibrous package. Whole fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and beans all contain both sugar and fiber. When the sugar and the fiber work together, all is right in your body. The sugar, in the form of glucose, is an essential nutrient. Not only does it give us quick energy, glucose is needed by every cell in your body for proper functioning. The fiber’s role is to slow the sugars rate of absorption, thereby giving us a sustained release of energy. Like Batman and Robin, sugar and fiber are a perfect duo.

So What’s the Problem?

The problem occurs when sugar is consumed without fiber. When sugar enters your bloodstream without the fiber to slow the rate of absorption, then the pancreas, which is the organ that regulates the blood sugar levels, is forced to produce insulin to bring the sugar levels down. This fluctuation in blood sugar levels creates stress in the body and can lead to diabetes and heart disease. It also interrupts the absorption of calcium and magnesium, which are both essential minerals for bone strength a proper nerve function.

So Where is the Fiber?

Fiber is the hard shell of grains and beans and the meat of fruits and vegetables. Fiber is an annoyance to food manufacturers. It is perishable so it creates a shorter shelf life, and it makes things take longer to cook. How could we microwave our dinner in 3 minutes if we have to cook that pesky fiber? So, what food manufacturers do is strip the fiber away from the food in order to make it more convenient for us. Bread lasts longer when made with refined flours, processed foods can sit on the shelf for months or years without  problem, and rice can take only a minute to cook.  Juice is easier to drink than actually eating an apple, so just drink your fruit. Nice right?

Sugar Robbers

The problem with all of this convenience is that it is causing mayhem in our bodies. Sugar in the body, without fiber, is like the Tasmanian devil, swirling and whirling and generally creating chaos. The fiber, which acts like a cop, is not there to tame the devil, so insulin levels shoot up, and we go on a sugar-fueled roller coaster ride. This effects us in so many ways. As mentioned above, it creates a huge amount of stress on the body. Because there is no fiber to slow the rate of absorption of the sugar, we get a huge rush of sugar followed by the inevitable crash. This wreaks havoc not only on our bodies but on our emotions as well. Have you ever witnessed the aftermath of a child’s sugar-high? It almost always ends in tears.

truffles2The Solution?

Always eat your sugars with fiber. I make a point in all of my cooking to ensure that I keep the dynamic duo together. The chocolate cake I bake is made with ground almond flour, stone ground millet, spinach and avocado. The frosting is made with fiber-rich coconut milk. The cookies are made with stone ground garbanzo beans and almonds, and the to-die-for chocolate truffles, which you will swear are the most decadent chocolate deliciousness ever, are made with dates and cashews. I have many, many more recipes on my site that maintain this same simple principle.

By incorporating these fibers into our sweet treats, we don’t need to give up our great love of sugar. Rather, if we make sure to eat fiber in combination with sugar,  we can have a happy mouth AND a healthy body.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips

Cultivating Joy That Lasts Longer Than Chocolate

2413036973_184907341d_bHappiness is eating a delicious chocolate bar. It’s a physical pleasure that lasts a very short time. What if you could find something akin to happiness, only deeper and longer lasting? Kind of like a permanent orgasm? Would you want some? Joy dives deeper and lasts longer. It’s a spiritual experience that comes from within. Joy is like an amped-up shade of happiness that doesn’t depend so much on senses or outer experiences. Bliss is the ultimate harvest of spiritual life. It’s an experience that transcends the physical and according to wisdom traditions, it is our true nature. If you want to find that path through the shades of happiness and joy to bliss, how do you get there?

One way to begin is to experience joy is through cultivating your inner sacred space. I call this place the secret garden. It’s a good place to plant seeds that can be cultivated and grow into a harvest of bliss. Some essential tools that help to dig deep and tend the inner garden include the hard work of self-inquiry, a regular meditation practice, a dedication to pay attention to and act on the guidance of your inner gardener – that higher, wiser part of you that is Divine – and a yearning to get rid of inner junk and pests that stand in the way. This junk is often old stuff from the past, including attitudes and habits that may have served us well at one time, but now just get in the way and hold us back. It’s time to let go of these and grow into the new life that’s waiting. One of my favorite ways to cultivate bliss in my secret garden is through consciously choosing guiding values.

Values are like seeds. They may include peace, kindness, generosity, joy, determination, patience, and more. When we choose the seeds we want to grow more of in our life, we can begin to cultivate them both inside during meditation and also through actions in our daily lives. Will the seeds you plant today lead to joy?

* * *

Register to win copy of Debra’s new book, Garden of Bliss on Goodreads.

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

In the Name of Love: A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

HF - Valentine'sLove is in the air. If you’re in a part of the world that celebrates Valentine’s Day then you most likely can feel it. Whether you anticipate the day with joy or dread, this yearly celebration marks the time for chocolate and roses and heart-shaped cards, all in the name of love. But where did the tradition come from?

In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores some unusual expressions of love across cultures, including the murky origins of the biggest contemporary love celebration in the west: Valentine’s Day. Named after at least one of three early Christian martyrs by the same name, this day has come to signify something very different than what it originally may have been.

The Saint Valentine most likely connected with the holiday was a priest in the 3rd century Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage for young men, believing that unmarried men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Valentine – still in the minority at this point as a Christian priest – felt the injustice of the decree and continued performing marriages for young lovers in secret. He was soon discovered, though, and executed for his disobedience. To add insult to injury, it was also rumored that he tried to convert Claudius to Christianity during his interrogation.

The placement of Valentine’s Day in the middle of February may be associated to the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s execution. But many believe the Christian church established Valentine’s Day in order to “Christianize” an early Roman pagan festival, Lupercalia, which was celebrated at the Ides of February. In this bloody fertility festival, men would sacrifice a dog and a goat, then strip the goats’ hides and use them to gently slap the women. Women apparently lined up for this yearly hide whipping, believing it would increase their fertility in the upcoming year. The day ended with a random pairing of couples to…well, test the magical strength of the goat hides.

Once “Christianized”, and with the help of authors like Chaucer and Shakespeare, Valentine’s Day became more of a celebration of romance, exchanging animal sacrifice for letter writing, whips for poetry and chocolate. Sounds like a healthy evolution. Today, Valentine’s Day sales approach close $20 billion, what with the candy, roses and a bit of expensive jewelry thrown in the mix.

Love itself, however, is free. And nothing says “I love you” better than a homemade card and a big hug.

How are you planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well to get updates on our latest shows and episodes!

Green Romance: A Healthy Approach to Intimacy

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The scene is set for romance…perfume, candles, flowers, chocolate, and champagne. But wait…some of these products might contain toxic chemicals! A new report from the Centers for Disease Control says that almost half of all Americans are now living with physical conditions and diseases that could be caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.

Know this: What you put on your body gets in to your body. Take perfume, for example. Most perfumes you buy in department stores can contain over 100 different synthetic chemicals to make the scent, plus things like phthalates, and parabens. These are endocrine disrupters – gender-bender chemicals that make girls develop earlier and reduce testosterone levels in boys. When shopping for perfume, look for those made from pure organic essential oils. They’re safe, non-toxic and more subtle than a synthetic perfume…your perfume won’t precede you when you enter a room and it won’t linger after you’ve gone!

What surrounds you can also get in your body and your bloodstream. Artificially scented candles for example, contain chemicals that can trigger asthma and allergies. Also, toxic chemicals have been found in the by-products in the combustion of artificial scents. Instead, choose candles scented with essential oils. Plus, most candles, unless otherwise labeled, are made from paraffin, a petroleum product, and fumes from paraffin wax have caused kidney and bladder tumors in lab animals. Choose beeswax candles with cotton wicks (make sure it doesn’t contain a lead core which will release into the air). There are two types of beeswax: solid, which are dipped or molded and burn well; or rolled, made from sheets of beeswax and tend to burn more quickly. Another good choice is soy candles.

How about roses…romantic right? Well, not if they’re sprayed with pesticides! These are toxic to our planet and to the growers. Look for organically grown flowers that use only natural repellants. When you choose something like that, you’re not only removing harmful chemicals from our environment, you’re also helping to improve the lives of flower growers, who are mostly women in developing nations.

Now, what goes in your body…Chocolate, which I think is my favorite food, is the ultimate in romance. Dark chocolate triggers feel-good chemical endorphins in our brain, which is so important for getting in the mood. The Aztecs believed that chocolate had aphrodisiac qualities, acting almost like a love potion. But most commercially made chocolate contains pesticides. So look for organic chocolates – they’re non toxic and delicious.

Finally, wine and champagne. Did you know that conventionally grown grapes are one of the most heavily sprayed crops on the planet? So, again, look for organic wine and champagnes. You can find some amazing organic varieties that taste wonderful, are very high quality and are competitively priced to those made conventionally.

Try green romance this Valentine’s Day. Non-toxic products will enhance your health, vitality and in turn your sensuality. For more tips go to my website www.supernaturalhome.com

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom™, is the bestselling author of Super Natural Home as well as a radio talk show host and impassioned champion of toxin-free living who busts open the myth that our homes are safe havens. Beth is a columnist for The Washington Times Communities, Greenopolis.com and NaturallySavvy.com. Follow Beth on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.

Originally published in 2010

Do Women Prefer Chocolate Over Sex?

“And it melts, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure.” Yvette Marceau played by Elisabeth Commelin in Chocolat.

Legend has it that Montezuma drank 50 cups of chocolate a day prior to his medieval dates with 600 women. And to think, you thought all he was responsible for was enacting revenge. In fact, the first people to convert beans into a spicy chocolate drink were natives of Central America, specifically the ascendants of Mexicans. “It’s an historic food and a source of mood enhancers for many people and societies — especially ladies.” according to Neil Edley, professional chocolatier with a candy company called Sugar Plum Chocolates based in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania. “Just as a cat’s evolution designed its olfactory senses to delight in catnip, women and chocolate have a natural chemical harmony like no other.

Have women, as a collective, unwittingly manipulated their evolvement to delight in chocolate? “Chocolate tastes good, is available when you want it, is a delight to the eye and the palate, is never boring, and doesn’t need any enhancements like Viagra®!” Edley adds wryly, perhaps making a stab at the general dissatisfaction women feel towards men, lately.

Satisfaction aside, chocolate can be healthy, “Chocolate is good source of antioxidants, known for their cell-protecting properties. Antioxidants fight off free radicals that damage cell membranes and the DNA,” said Susan Burke March, MS, CDE, author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally. “Although berries, tea, garlic and wine are sources of antioxidants, “cocoa beans top them all,”  says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. His research shows that cocoa beans are the most potent source of polyphenols, a large subgroup of antioxidants.

Carrie Toppano, Director of Sales & Operations of Sweet Beauty Spa, an organic chocolate spa in Seattle taught me that dark chocolate has twice the antioxidants of red wine and four times the antioxidants in green tea. This is why dark chocolate is commonly attributed to being healthier over milk chocolate. Toppano advises that “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t wear it on your skin.

Read more by Stefan at PintoFactory – a blog on how to follow yourself

 Originally Published in October, 2009

Rub Your Hoku, and 7 Other Surprising Ways to Calm Down

Want to stop stressing? Then start swearing, kissing, getting dirty, cluttered, and eating garlic instead!

Being “stressed” seems to be as trendy as being “on a diet.” Everyone’s doing it, throwing the terms around as if it’s an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn’t addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it naturally… naturally. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!

–Touching, kissing, hugging (or any other affectionate activities) stimulates the brain’s release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.

Swear it Off!  Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That’s according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.

–Eat Garlic.  The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head. 

Succumb to Chocolate.  Balance isn’t just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff.

Rub your Hoku.  Your “hoku” is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It’s also an acupressure spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%– that’s according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Watch YouTube.  Laughter is a proven way to ease stress. Even the mere anticipation of something funny has the ability to calm us down thanks to the release of stress hormones like dopac, cortisol and epinephrine. More than easing angst, short funny film clips have been proven to increase blood flow to the heart according to scientists at the University of Maryland. 

Get Dirty.  Research has shown that having plants and flowers in your presence can elicit a positive mood and reduce stress levels. Connecting with the Earth by sticking your hands in the dirt and tending to the plants yourself even further imbue you with an energy of calm.

Embrace Clutter.  For years, neat-freak moms have been insisting on orderly bedrooms for the sake of productivity, sanity, and just seemingly to pester. Not anymore! Eric Abrahamson (a Columbia School of Business Professor) and David H. Freedman (a journalist) have found that moderate messes can actually enrich creativity and minimize anxiety.

 

Read more Quickie Lifestyle tips at QuickieChick.com

Rub Your Hoku, and 7 Other Surprisingly Ways to Calm Down

Want to stop stressing? Then start swearing, kissing, getting dirty, cluttered and eating garlic instead!  

 

Being “stressed” seems to be as trendy as being “on a diet.” Everyone’s doing it, throwing the terms around as if it’s an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn’t addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it naturally… naturally. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!

 

–Touching, kissing, hugging (or any other affectionate activities) stimulates the brain’s release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.

 

Swear it Off!  Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That’s according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.

 

–Eat Garlic.  The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head.

 

Succumb to Chocolate.  Balance isn’t just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff.

 

Rub your Hoku.  Your “hoku” is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It’s also an (acupressure http://www.ehow.com/how_2031326_define-acupressure.html) spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%– that’s according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

 

Watch YouTube.  Laughter is a proven way to ease stress. Even the mere anticipation of something funny has the ability to calm us down thanks to the release of stress hormones like dopac, cortisol and epinephrine. More than easing angst, short funny film clips have been proven to increase blood flow to the heart according to scientists at the University of Maryland.

 

Get Dirty.  Research has shown that having plants and flowers in your presence can elicit a positive mood and reduce stress levels. Connecting with the Earth by sticking your hands in the dirt and tending to the plants yourself even further imbue you with an energy of calm.

 

Embrace Clutter.  For years, neat-freak moms have been insisting on orderly bedrooms for the sake of productivity, sanity, and just seemingly to pester. Not anymore! Eric Abrahamson (a Columbia School of Business Professor) and David H. Freedman (a journalist) have found that moderate messes can actually enrich creativity and minimize anxiety.

 

 

Read more Quickie Lifestyle tips at QuickieChick.com

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