Tag Archives: Healthy living

The Extraordinary Value of the Ordinary to Manage Extreme Stress

Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 11.30.18 PMDuring times of extraordinary stress we tend to feel that we have little or no control. At this point it would be wise to go the opposite route to get back in control: Reestablish the ordinary routine. Going through the familiar motions is comforting and helps us stabilize and return to center. And if we are merely experiencing ordinary stress, that ordinary routine will serve as a preventative for spiraling down into the throes of anxiety and grief. It is always easier to prevent than to treat.

The problem is that we have developed a profound distaste for the ordinary which includes never-ending housework, mundane chores, secure job and dependable spouse. We want to be larger than life, a celebrity. However, what we don’t realize is that the consistency and predictability of the ordinary provides the most direct route to happiness, security and love- the anchor to our flights of fancy. Small steps can lead to giant gains.

How to embrace the ordinary in your life:

* Reject perfectionism and its associated stress which actually impede reasonable accomplishment. Release the procrastination trigger of “not being good enough,” for it will simply not get done.  Instead, do your best and move on to the next project.

* Don’t beat your head against a wall of frustration. Accept how things are like being stuck in traffic, or people saying the things that they say and move your ladder of success to another wall.

* Use a mundane chore like doing laundry as a physical opportunity to serve as a metaphor for cleaning out your toxic thoughts and removing sad stains from your consciousness. Daily structure restores normalcy and stress hormones need to be moved out of the body and mind.

* Go shopping. Consumerism has gotten a bad rap, especially the love/hate relationship we have regarding materialism. Instead, feel grateful for your material purchases and enjoy them.  And every time you go to the supermarket, re-appreciate all the various foods available to you like the vast array of summer fruits and vegetables in winter.

* Get back to basic human needs with a healthy Mediterranean meal plan and daily exercise. There is no magic pill or diet regarding sustained weight loss and fitness.

Try to be kind and moderate in your speech and behavior.  Simple expressions of kindness are powerful transformers.

* Look around you for visual images of optimism and hope. Read books and watch movies which are uplifting; instead of disparaging them as overly sentimental and unreal. Reality needs the imagination to make it more tolerable. Fiction helps us learn how to solve real problems: What would the hero do?

* Maintain your natural rhythm with a daily technology-free zone. Take a walk outdoors or sit on a park bench to inhale and absorb the details of life.

Absolute Cooperation with the Inevitable

Mystic Poppies.The modern-day mystic and Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello once said: “Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.” This statement struck a deep chord within me. It seems to me that what he meant was to be absolutely open to life as it is.

Think about the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean that flows from the tip of Florida up along the eastern seaboard. If you were to put a straw in the water, aligned with the Gulf Stream, it would move with the flow of water. The water moves through it and carries it along on the current. Everything is aligned; it’s total grace. Now, if it’s misaligned, and it’s not moving with the flow of water, it gets spun around and moves off course.

Aligning ourselves with the flow of aliveness is an essential part of our mindfulness practice. Like the straw, if we move out of alignment, we’re moving away, spinning about, in reaction…in some way unable to be one with the flow of grace. So we seek to stay aligned, letting the flow of life move through us.

What are some ways that we remove ourselves from the channel through which our life flows?

I noticed this happening the other day when I was driving home. I have my own accustomed speed, and the person in front of me was going much, much, much slower. You know what that is like, don’t you? Now, I wasn’t in a rush to get somewhere. I wasn’t on my way to the airport to catch a plane, but it didn’t matter. I was driving at a speed that felt really different from my preferred speed. I was experiencing impatience and anxiety, and it was building. Everything in me was leaning forward. I felt like I couldn’t be okay unless the situation changed.

So I paused, mentally. I recognized that I had a demand that something be different than it was at the moment, and I tried to let go of it. This example is a small thing, but this happens in many ways, some small and some much larger, in our human experience. We get caught in feeling that happiness is not possible unless things change. Consequently, we cause ourselves tremendous unhappiness, because we’re demanding that things be different.

It’s interesting to notice how this happens. I think it arises from our social conditioning about what brings happiness. We are led to believe that we need certain things to be happy: “If I can get this job,” “If I can earn this much money,” “If I can buy a house in that neighborhood,” then I will be happy. Or we might think, if only I were healthier, or thinner, or if my boss quit so I could have a different boss, or if I had a different spouse…and on and on.

We wait for things to be different in order to feel okay with life. As long as we keep attaching our happiness to the external events of our lives, which are ever changing, we’ll always be left waiting for it.

What if we were to pause and align ourselves with the current?
What if we moved with the flow of what is?
What would that mean for you in your life, right now?

Aligning with what is here is a way of practicing presence. It allows us to respond to our world with creativity and compassion.

What is actually happening is that we’re opening to the universal intelligence, the universal love that can flow through us when we’re aligned. When the straw is aligned with the current, the Gulf Stream flows through it. When we’re aligned with the flow of our lives, there’s a universal wisdom and love that flows through us, which is our true nature.

© Tara Brach

Adapted from Radical Acceptance  (2003)

Enjoy this talk on: Absolute Cooperation with the Inevitable

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For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

photos by: hipea & h.koppdelaney

Soy: Is it Safe for Me? A Cautionary Tale for People and Planet

shutterstock_121423399-e1361475949317I came across an article this week, written by Barry Boyd, MD, a board certified oncologist and hematologist, that does an excellent job of summing up, once and for all, the myths and facts around soy as it relates to breast cancer.  Fortunately, I think we’ve finally gotten to a point in science that we can confidently stand on one side of the fence when it comes to soy and this issue.  If you’re at all confused about soy and breast cancer, I recommend you give his article a read.

But, before you go and grill up your next soy veggie burger, you should know that there’s another cautionary tale to be told about this plump little legume.  It turns out much of the soy we eat today is not plump or even all that soy-like.  Thanks (or not) to advances in food technology, much of the soy we eat today is either genetically modified, washed and extracted with a neurotoxic petro-chemical, or both.  So, with Dr. Boyd’s talents for history telling as inspiration, allow me to tell you a bit of a story…

Soy is actually quite a deserved celebrity when it comes to beans.  It’s an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, contains heart healthy unsaturated fats, and is a rare vegetarian source of complete protein (a protein is considered complete when it matches the composition of the protein found in an egg).  If you’re a vegetarian, finding complete sources of protein is a big deal.  It’s also planet friendly as it’s grown domestically and has a much smaller carbon footprint than eating an equivalent amount of protein from an animal source (thus the veggie burger reference).  Maybe it’s because of all these positive attributes that soy has been such a point of focus for food scientists.  The fact that it’s a subsidized crop that US farmers are heavily incentivized to grow in mass quantities doesn’t hurt either.

Although all the aspects of a soybean are compelling, it’s really the protein that’s become a focus for the packaged food industry.  High protein diets are a bit of a nutrition fad if you haven’t noticed.   Although most of us have stepped back in recent years from the extremes of the Atkins Diet, more still seems to be better and what better ingredient to bump up protein levels in food than inexpensive and abundant soybeans?

So then, it should be no surprise that soy can be found in almost every packaged foods category.  From crackers to energy bars, ice cream to frozen waffles, soy boosts the protein levels of an incredible number of foods and can be found in more than 60% of processed foods in the marketplace today.

But here’s the thing: just as protein is an established fad, fat is an equally established phobia.  Mother Nature rarely creates food without a balanced mix of nutrients – some fat, some protein, some fiber and likely some antioxidants thrown in for good measure.  Ten grams of protein and zero grams of fat?  Nope, not found in nature and certainly not in a soybean.  So, to meet our demands for protein without all the scary fat, scientists developed a method to separate the two. Hexane is a petro-chemical that is drilled out from deep down in the earth.  When washed over soybeans it causes the fat to separate from the protein.  It’s incredibly efficient at what it does, much more so than mechanically pressing out the oil (the way expeller-pressed oils are extracted).  What you get at the end of the hexane washing process are two new ingredients, isolated soy protein and soybean oil.

Hexane is a pretty scary chemical. The Environmental Working Group classifies it as… [read the rest on KeeganSheridan.com

6 Steps to Healthy Cholesterol

Contrary to conventional wisdom, cholesterol is not the enemy.

The question on the lips of many Americans these days is, “How do I lower my cholesterol?” We’ve all been told that the secret to living a long, healthy, heart-disease free life is lowering your cholesterol. And believing that a low cholesterol count is the best way to prevent heart disease, doctors often prescribe medications like statins to keep these levels low. But these drugs can introduce a whole host of problems and may not even work.

The truth is, your body needs cholesterol in order to function properly. So, it’s not about having lower cholesterol; it’s about having the right type of cholesterol.

The important questions we should ask are:

  • How do I get the right type of cholesterol?
  • How do I lower my triglycerides and raise my good cholesterol or HDL?
  • What’s the best way to prevent heart disease without drugs?

Originally posted on DrHyman.com

BS-LIST OFFENDER: How the Health Food Industry Is Feeding You Half-Truths About Omega-3

redmeatconsumption

According to the website of chia-bar maker, Health Warrior, “1 bag of chia = 10lbs of salmon.” These figures supposedly mean lots of “BRAINPOWER” and a slew of other health benefits. There are plenty of other companies and products that claim similar nutritional feats. If only it were all true. In the name of nutrition science and your health, I’m here to call BS on this misinformed hype-y unscientific souped-up marketing claim!

While there may be some truth to the amounts of omega-3 in a single bag of Health Warrior’s product, there is some ridiculously important information health food companies don’t tell you when they equate plant and animal sources of omega-3. To put it simply: omega-3 from plant and animal foods are not created equal. And all that “BRAINPOWER” isn’t going to come from plant sources of omega-3—because it can’t.

Goddesses don’t have to know everything, but they always question what they read and hear. While there are certainly health benefits to now-trendy chia seeds, along with good ol’ flax seeds, walnuts, hemp, etc. there’s just as much misinformation and hype based on the faulty logic of equal or higher amounts of omega-3 in these plant foods in comparison to animal foods.

DON’T FALL VICTIM TO NUTRITION MISINFORMATION & HYPE!
hypevtruth

The omega-3 in chia and flax seeds—or any plant food for that matter—is not made up of the same stuff as the omega-3 in cold-water fish, and pastured animal foods like eggs, dairy and meat. That’s right, you heard me: not just fish, but animal foods in general have omega-3, and the best kind! That is, so long as those animals were pastured/grass-fed (vs. corn, soy, grain or “vegetarian”-fed—even if that corn, soy or grain is organic).

Why is omega-3 from pastured/grass-fed animal foods so great? Because it contains pre-formed fatty acids EPA and DHA. Plant foods do not. The way an animal is raised and fed determines how healthy the fat composition of its foods are. Pastured/grass-fed animals make some of the healthiest and most irreplaceable fats around. Accept no substitutions–they don’t exist!

WHY OUR BODIES NEED OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS EPA & DHA 
You want to eat foods containing EPA and DHA for tons of reasons, including brain, heart, skin and immune system health, a healthy inflammation response, lubricated joints, maintenance of elasticity in cell membranes, healthy cholesterol levels, brain development in children, and normal brain function in adults(1)—basically an endless list of essential bodily functions.

WHY ANIMAL FOODS CONTAIN PRE-FORMED EPA & DHA, BUT PLANT FOODS DON’T
Think you can only get EPA and DHA from fish? Think again. Think of peoples in landlocked countries across time: their access to seafood was limited to occasional trade. In order to be able to nourish themselves, generation after generation, landlocked cultures must have had access to foods containing EPA and DHA. And they did: from animal foods sourced from the likes of pastured cows, goats, sheep, chickens, etc.

When animals eat grass, seeds and insects (yep, insects are part of a healthy diet Nature intended for animals, particularly chickens), their digestive processes convert the omega-3 fatty acid ALA they eat from said foods into omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Any of the foods you eat from these animals—eggs, dairy, meat—have this pre-formed EPA and DHA. In the case of wild salmon (not farmed salmon), they eat shrimp and krill which have, in turn, eaten lots of phytoplankton, putting salmon at the top of a food-chain with more than one stage of pre-formed EPA and DHA consumption.

So animals that eat grass, seeds and insects convert the omega-3 fatty acid ALA in their food to the Essential Fatty Acids EPA and DHA. Plants don’t (c’mon, they make energy from “eating” sunshine, water and soil minerals). One exception: algae. But don’t get too excited: although algae contain DHA, they don’t contain much EPA, nowhere near the ideal 1:1 ratio, or the suggested 4:1-1:1 ratio of EPA to DHA for optimal health and disease-prevention (more on this later).

WHY IT’S SUPER-IMPORTANT YOU EAT PLENTY OF OMEGA-3 FROM ANIMAL FOODS

True, our bodies can make EPA and DHA from plant-sourced omega-3 (i.e. from chia, flax, walnuts, hemp, or any other plant fats). Unfortunately, our bodies don’t make it very efficiently: the conversion rate for the human body to make EPA from an omega-3 plant source (like chia or flax) is only 6-8%, while the rate for DHA is a meager 0.1-3.8%.(2,3)And if your diet is super-high in omega-6 fats (like is it for anyone eating what’s considered “normal” amounts of vegetable/plant oils), this conversion rate is reduced 40-50% to virtually nothing. (4)

To make matters worse, EPA and DHA conversion is especially inefficient when the diet lacks sufficient saturated fat. When you consider that we’re told to avoid saturated fat like the plague in the US, the ability to convert EPA and DHA can and often does become even more compromised (basically, if you don’t eat meat, or even just whole eggs and/or whole-fat dairy, you won’t get much saturated fat unless you load up on coconut or palm oil).(5)

WHY YOU SHOULD EAT PLENTY OF PASTURED ANIMAL FOODS & LIMIT EATING LOADS OF PLANT FATS

Keep in mind that EPA and DHA naturally come together in animal sources. This is no mistake—Nature really does have our backs. Recent research has shown these nutrients function synergistically, and that our hunter-gatherer and cavewo(men) ancestors ate EPA and DHA in equal proportion to one another (meaning a 1:1 ratio). Today’s proportion is somewhere between 15:1-16.7:1.(6) 

It’s super-important you remember: plant sources of omega-3 always come with higher amounts of omega-6 than omega-3.(7)  This makes it nearly impossible to properly balance your omega-6 to omega-3 intake in a 1:1 ratio on a diet that solely or largely relies on plant foods. (FYI: don’t worry about predominantly-saturated-fat tropical oils like coconut and palm—you can and should go to town with them).

Why do you want your omega-6 and omega-3 intake to be as even as possible? Because omega-6 has pro-inflammatory effects, and omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, higher levels of omega-6 to omega-3 cause inflammation.(8) This is not a good thing because inflammation is the root of disease (we’re talking everything from the common cold and allergies to diabetes, heart disease and cancer). For this reason you want to limit inflammatory foods (read: eat smaller portions), and eat plenty of foods that are rich in an even balance of EPA and DHA.(9,10) Where do you find these foods? Wild/pastured/grass-fed animal foods.

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Simply put, we need animal-sourced omega-3, which comes with pre-formed fatty acids EPA and DHA
—an absolutely crucial info-tidbit that’s all too frequently overlooked or not discussed by the media, health food and supplement companies, and often times even medical professionals. EPA and DHA are pre-formed in animal sources, like wild cold-water fish, and grass-fed/pastured animal foods (whole eggs, meat, lard, tallow, and whole-fat dairy like butter, cheese, yogurt and kefir). Sure you can still enjoy the likes of chia, flax and other plant-sourced fats, just limit them to smaller portions. Your body will thank you.

Does this mean health food companies like Health Warrior are lying to you? I can’t speak for them, but it’s likely they simply do not fully understand the way food works. In any case, you are not being fed the whole truth. And while anger, frustration or disappointment may be natural, understandable responses to this realization, Goddesses remember they possess the power to transform these feelings into beyond-valuable assets, namely the drives to question, self-advocate, investigate, experiment and experience, while remaining open to new feelings and ideas. Always remember, Goddesses: you have the final word when it comes to your health and what you eat.

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Adapted from Erika Herman’s book, Eat Like a Fatass, Look Like a Goddess: The Untold Story of Healthy Foods

Sources:

1 Ruxton, C., et al. “The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 17(5), 2004; pp. 449-459. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15357699

2 Gerster , H. “Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)?” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 68(3), 1998: pp. 159-173.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9637947

3 Williams, C. and G. Burdge. “Long-chain n-3 PUFA: plant v. marine sources” Proceeding of the Nutrition Society 65(1), 2006: pp. 42-50. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16441943

4 Gerster.

5 Williams.

6 Simopoulos, A. “Evolutionary aspects of diet, the omega-6/omega-3 ratio and genetic variation: nutritional implications for chronic diseases.” Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy 60(9), 2006; pp. 502-507. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/17045449.

7 Kidd, P. “Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: Clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.” Alternative Medicine Review 12(3), 2007: pp. 207-227. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072818.

8 Pischon, T., et al. “Habitual dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in relation to inflammatory markers among us men and women.” Circulation 108(2), 2003: pp. 155-160. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12821543

9 Kidd.

10 Simopoulos.

 

6 House Cleaning Tips to Reduce Stress

springcleaningFor most people stress and mess are unremitting realities in daily life. In fact, the various stressors and disarrays share a common denominator – clutter – both the physical and mental kind.  Why not then kill two birds with one stone? As long as you have to clean your place, why not use it as a targeted method for coping with stress?

Cleaning carries emotional benefits: Catharsis, clarity, control and change. These good feelings lead directly to self-improvement and empowerment. For example, when you clean out your space, you can distinguish between what inspires you and what no longer serves you.  Getting rid of what you no longer need, makes room for positivism and invites good things into your home, including friends, as you are no longer embarrassed by the mess.

Here are 6 cleaning tasks and their emotional/intellectual/spiritual rewards:

* Washing the dishes helps you to wash away the grief. Circular motions correspond to the circle of life.
* Vacuuming gets rid of the dust and the cobwebs, the regrets which cling and keep you stuck, as you inhale stale air and allergens. Vacuuming helps you to move forward and breathe a purer air, a more authentic version of yourself.
* Cleaning the windows lets in the light when you feel sad, unable to step outside. Afterwards, you can sit or stand by the window, relax and watch others. Moreover, when you open a window, you get ready to step outside and join the good energy – first you rehearse it in your mind and then you do it.
* Cleaning the bathroom helps you to get the crap out of your life or neutralize what pisses you off.  You need to move toxins out of your body and your mind.
* Mopping the floor keeps you in the moment, an opportunity not to think about your worries; otherwise, if you are not fully present to what you are doing, you can slip and slide and fall back into an old issue.
* Overall, housecleaning is great exercise to be envied by gym goers. And exercise efficiently alleviates anxiety and moves stress hormones out of the body.

The next time you clean your space, create a specific intention, a stress-reducing mental component corresponding to the physical act. For example, when you are clearing out spoiled fruit in your refrigerator to make room for fresh, new fruit consider if there might be some spoiled, toxic relationship you need to throw away? Or when you are dusting, polishing your furniture to a brilliant shine, consider what might be holding you back from shining?

Celebrating a Practice That’s Changing Medicine

NaturopathicMedicineWeekNaturopathic Medicine Week is October 7-13th

I am a naturopathic doctor.

I represent a community of approximately 4400 practicing physicians in the United States.  We may be small in number, but what we lack in size we make up for in a passion and commitment to the philosophies we took an oath to honor:  that our bodies’ have an inherent wisdom of how to be well and our primary job as a doctor is to remove barriers to health in order to honor this ability, that at our core we are teachers and in order to truly cure, we must empower our patients to become active participants in their healing process, and that treating symptoms is not the end game, but merely clues to identify and treat the causes of disease.

When you’re small it’s often hard to be seen.  That’s why the recently passed Senate Resolution 211, establishing this week, October 7-13th, as national Naturopathic Medicine Week is such a big deal.

From the authors of the resolution,

“…naturopathic medicine provides noninvasive, holistic treatments that support the inherent self-healing capacity of the human body and encourage self-responsibility in health care”

They go on to state,

“That the Senate recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care; and encourage the people of the United States to learn about naturopathic medicine and the role that naturopathic physicians play in preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions.”

Awareness about what naturopathic medicine has to offer couldn’t come at a better time.  As a society, we’re really, really sick.  Two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, leaving us at risk for the development of serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and depression.  88 million of us have high blood pressure and 25 million have insulin resistant diabetes.  A full 75% of our national health care costs are focused on these chronic, yet largely preventable, diseases.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are specialists of diet and lifestyle-based treatments and it’s exactly these treatments that are proven to be the most effective medicine for the prevention and treatment of these chronic illnesses.  We receive an average of 70 hours of nutrition education and an additional 130 hours of training in therapeutic diets compared to an average of just 19 hours of basic nutrition education in conventional medical programs.  We look at the physical, emotional, environmental and social influences and approach each patient as the unique person that they are, using the least invasive (and often less expensive) treatment possible.  In addition, we tend to set up shop where we’re needed most, a full 50 percent of us work with underserved populations.

I believe naturopathic medicine is an essential part of the solution to our health care crisis.  We are a medicine that is changing medicine and it’s for this reason that I am celebrating Naturopathic Medicine Week.  To learn more about naturopathic medicine and find a naturopathic physician near you, please visit our national association, The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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For more from Keegan please visit her website and make sure you follow her on Twitter

Lift Yourself Up with a Gesture of Kindness

almost mayThe next time you find yourself in a bad mood, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “What is my attitude toward myself right now? Am I relating to myself with judgment … or with mindfulness, warmth, and respect?”

Typically, you’ll find that when you’re anxious, lonely, or depressed, you’re also down on yourself in some way, and that undercurrent of feeling deficient or unworthy is what’s keeping you cut off from your own aliveness, as well as your feeling of connection with others.

The way of healing and homecoming begins with what I call “a gesture of kindness.” You might for instance put your hand on your heart—letting the touch be tender—and send a message inwardly. It might be “It’s okay, sweetheart.” Or  “I care about this suffering.” Or, “I’m sorry and I love you.”  Often, it’s simply,  “This, too.”

Sometimes, this gesture of kindness includes saying “yes” to whatever’s going on—the yes meaning, “This is what’s happening, it’s how life is right now … it’s okay.”

If you’re really down on yourself, you can also say “Forgiven, forgiven.” Not because there’s something wrong to forgive, but because there’s some judgment to let go of.

As you offer yourself this gesture of kindness, take some moments to stay with yourself, to keep yourself company. Allow whatever most wants attention to surface, and sense that you are the loving presence that can include and embrace whatever’s arising.

Then, see if you can widen your attention, and notice what or who else is floating in your heart space. Perhaps you’ll intentionally offer a gesture of kindness to a friend who’s struggling with disappointment, a family member dealing with illness, or a teen caught in self-doubt.

As you continue to practice offering yourself and others this gesture of kindness, you will discover that this response to life becomes increasingly spontaneous and natural.  In time, you’ll recognize it as the most authentic expression of who you are.

—Tara Brach,  Labor Day Weekend, 2013

Enjoy this short talk on Dedicating to Kindness

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photo by: paul bica

3 Soup Recipes to Warm Up Your Autumn

beet-soup1-1024x768With summer securely in our rearview mirrors, it’s time to start preparing for cooler temperatures. Get out your jackets and scarves, but what about when you’re home?

Soup! Whether you are battling one of those transitional season colds or just want an easy to warm you up as you watch the leaves fall outside. Soups are a simple and quick thing to make in the kitchen, and so easy to turn into your own recipes. And if you don’t finish all of it in one sitting you can always freeze the rest in a ziplock bag to be warmed up later.

Here are three of my favorite soup recipes, perfect for the fall season. Better yet, all of them can be made in 30 minutes or less for those that are always on the go.

1. Beet Fennel Soup

Ingredients:

  • beet – 3 medium (about 3 cups)
  • garlic – 1 clove
  • ginger – 1 thumb-sized piece
  • fennel – 1 bulb
  • kombu – 2 strips
  • caraway seeds – 1 tsp
  • cumin – 1/2 tsp
  • tarragon – 1 tsp
  • ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • fennel powder – 1/2 tsp
  • onion – 1 medium (1 cup chopped)
  • chicken stock – 1 quart (may substitute vegetable)
  • ghee – 1 tbsp
  • coconut milk – 1/2 cup (may use soy milk or regular milk)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Scrub the beets well and then chop into 1 inch cubes. Warning – this is a messy business! While your kids might love the mess, I would avoid wearing your favorite white shirt.

Chop fennel, garlic, ginger, and onion. I am pretty rough about it. No fine dicing for me..

Put the onion, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan with the ghee (or oil) and cook on medium-high, stirring often, until the onion is transluscent.

Turn the heat down to low.

Add caraway seeds, cumin, ginger powder, fennel powder, and tarragon and mix. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add beets and fennel and mix to coat. Let that cook for two to three minutes.

Add chicken or vegetable stock and kombu. Turn heat up to medium-high and cover until the soup starts a low boil.

Make sure to check the soup often so you don’t burn it.

When the soup starts to boil then turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for about a 1/2 an hour or until the beets are soft.

Take the kombu out.

With a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth.

Add coconut milk. Mix well.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Butternut Squash Soup

A bowl of butternut squash soup, which is packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, most notably C and the powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, which protect against heart disease, make this soup incredibly good for you too.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  • 3 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth. If you make it if fresh, that is great. If not, Pacific Foods makes a nice organic one.
  • 1 piece of Khombu (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Put the broth, khombu and cubed squash in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium/low and let cook for 1/2 hour. Remove khombu. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Add salt to taste.

I usually serve it with a hearty, whole-grain toast.  I like to cut it into strips for dipping. My older son was so excited he couldn’t wait for the toast to come out of the oven.

3. Creamy Dairy-Free Carrot Soup

This soup is a nutrient powerhouse that helps our family get through the colds and flus that often derail the holiday season.

The carrots are rich in Beta-Carotene which the liver converts to Vitamin A. This is important because Vitamin A helps to rid the body of the various toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. If our livers are not functioning properly, we are more susceptible to the viruses and bacteria that make us sick. A healthy liver is needed for a healthy body, so helping it do its job is like a natural form of health insurance.

Ingredients

  • carrots – 4 cups, chopped
  • ginger – 1 thumb-sized piece
  • ghee – 1 tbsp (may use coconut oil)
  • onion – 1 large
  • apple – 1 large
  • garlic – 1 clove
  • coriander – 1 tsp
  • caraway seeds – 1 tsp
  • coconut milk – 3/4 cup
  • chicken stock – 4 cups (may substitute vegetable stock)
  • salt and pepper – to taste

Instructions 

Chop the carrots, onions, ginger, apple, and garlic.

Put the onion, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan with the ghee (or coconut oil) and cook on medium-high, stirring often, until the onion is transluscent.

Turn the heat down to low.

Add caraway seeds and coriander and mix. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add carrots and apple and mix to coat. Let that cook for two to three minutes.

Add chicken or vegetable stock. Turn heat up to medium-high and cover until the soup starts a low boil.

Stir every few minutes to keep it from burning.

When the soup starts to boil then turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for about a 1/2 an hour or until the carrots are soft.

With a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth.

Add coconut milk. Mix well.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

Deepak Chopra: End-of-Life Experience and How to Die Well

shutterstock_107006774Let me begin by reassuring you that this isn’t going to be a grim post. But it begins in an area people are uncomfortable with. We all must die, yet this is one inevitability that almost nobody feels comfortable talking about. That includes doctors and nurses, as was discovered in a newly published study from King’s College in London. It surveyed the staff that surrounded dying patients in hospices and found that they witness every common end-of-life experience (ELE). These fall into two types, and one of them will seem very strange.

The first type of ELE seeks final meaning. Near the time of death, people often want to be reconciled with family members who have become estranged, and this desire can be so strong that the moment of death is postponed until the estranged person visits. There is often a desire to put one’s affairs in order and to right past wrongs. It is observed that patients who have been semi-conscious will have a moment of sudden lucidity in which they express their dying wishes before lapsing back.

This whole category of ELE is psychologically intimate, and a significant number of doctors and nurses feel uncomfortable being present for it. Two inhibitions stand in the way. Doctors spend most of their energy trying to extend life, so learning about dying isn’t part of their training. Secondly, it is still considered a sign of weakness for a doctor to feel emotional about death, which leads to distancing himself from the actual experience.

The second type of ELE is labeled transpersonal, although the common word for it would be spooky. Dying patients, far more often than is acknowledged, have highly mystical experiences. They get visions of departed ones who have come to take them away. They sense the transmission of light and love from other realities and can visit those realities.  The study found that such ELEs could not be accounted for by the medical state or treatment of the person — the ELE occurred in clear consciousness.

Yet probably the most uncomfortable ELE in this category was observed by the staff, including seeing something leave the body at the time of death, finding that a peculiar synchronicity occurred, such as the clock stopping at the moment of death. It’s more common than you would suppose for relatives who were not present when the dying person passed away to have them appear at the moment of death. Needless to say, modern society is skeptical enough that ridicule and quick dismissal of these transpersonal experiences will arise, even though they have been reported continually in every culture since history has been recorded.

The study makes the point that ELEs, which of course do not occur with every dying person, bring comfort and consolation; they seem to be a natural mechanism that surrounds the climactic event of death. Which brings us to the paradox of how we die. In the 1930s, eighty percent of people still died at home; now more than eighty percent die in the impersonal setting of a hospital. Massive expense is involved in trying to cure the last disease each of us will have, the one we eventually die from.

As medical technology shrouds the dying process, as people become more and more discomfited being around it, nature doesn’t seem to care. Mind and spirit experience death the old-fashioned way. Happily, the paradox resolves itself in favor of death being much less scary than we imagine. There is every indication that we are meant to die at peace, and so we do.

deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

 

Originally published May 2011

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