Tag Archives: nutrition

Life is Like Pasta – Which Type Are You?

pastaMy family is Italian. In an Italian house, all good life lessons always involve food. Here is one. 

Life is truly like pasta because no matter how you serve it, it is always good. But with a little information about the shape of the pasta (what makes it unique) and the sauce that fits it, it can change the dish from good to great. This requires a quick pasta lesson:

Pasta is a “carrier” – the shape of the pasta is used to deliver, appreciate and celebrate its sauce. There are 9 types of pasta – short/long, smooth/lined, flat/round, straight/cupped, or filled. Pasta – good. Pasta with the right sauce – great.

So think of it this way:

• Smooth pasta works best with sauces like oil or butter – something to coat the pasta – think pesto.

• Pasta with lines (“rigate” in Italian) works best with wet sauces because the lines hold the sauce – think marinara, Bolognese, vegetable or meat sauces.

• Pasta with cup, scoop or tube shapes works best with creamy sauces – to scoop the sauce with each bite – think alfredo or any cheese sauces.

• Filled pasta – ravioli, totellini, angelotti – works best with light sauces to be able to taste the amazing filling.

Think about the American favorite – spaghetti with meat sauce. A meat or tomato sauce does not stick to a slick, long and thin, slippery pasta. The result is when you finish the pasta, the sauce is still in the bowl. Unforgivable for an Italian! (Suggestion: if you love meat or tomato sauce, use a lined ziti, penne, mostaccioli or rigatoni – you’ll enjoy the sauce and the pasta together.) With this little bit of information, we can now better match the sauce with the pasta and go from good to great.

It is the same in life. We are each like a unique shape of pasta; we are good in some situations but great in others. We first have to know our shape – our unique abilities – our talents, strengths and passions. Knowing this, along with knowing our world, we start to find ways to connect what is best in us with our world. We find work and life situations that fit us. We find and do our “thing.” We feel capable, competent, happy and courageous. We move from good to great. We are like the correct matching of the right shape of pasta with the right sauce. Everything is better.

I think of this every time I stand before the 30 or so shapes of pasta at the grocery store. When I look at the boxes of pasta, I see opportunities in each shape – to match them to what sauce works best for them. I see the same when I look at people in my seminars or programs, or those I coach – each is unique and able to create something amazing when they learn how to build their world around what makes them unique – how to connect their lives (sauces) to their unique abilities (shapes).

The more we know and appreciate what makes us unique, the more I am reminded of what my mother told us as she taught my five siblings and me how to cook, “When you know your ingredients, you can always make something great.” Know your ingredients – your talents, strengths and passions – then select the things in life that need your amazing (and unique) ingredients. This is how to go from good to great in the kitchen, and in life.

One of my favorite pasta recipes: Ziti with Spinach and Olives

In a large sauté pan, sauté a finally chopped onion, pancetta (or smoky bacon) and crushed red pepper in olive oil. When cooked, add black and green olives (I’m Italian – I don’t measure things; we go by look and feel. Add as many olives as you like). In a separate pot, cook ziti (smooth, no lines; this is an oil-based sauce). Drain ziti and add to it to the pan with onion, pancetta and olives, and return it to the (low) heat. Add a handful of fresh gently chopped spinach for each person being served and stir until the spinach is wilted and the ingredients are blended. Pour into a large warmed pasta bowl to be set in the middle of the table. Top with fresh ground black pepper and freshly-grated parmesan cheese. Total time – about 12 minutes. Swap out the spinach for swiss chard, beet greens, arugula, kale or whatever is fresh. Serve with a salad. Tutti a tavola!

Better Than Before: Is Juicing Worth the Squeeze?

juicingWhen I was growing up, my mother believed that eating liver was essential for good vision. Animal livers, she insisted, stored vitamins, in particular A and B complex. These essential nutrients help keep the retina in good shape, the visual purple strong, and the eyes well-lubricated. In any event, my mother took it one step further and gave it to us in the most palatable way she could think of – run through a blender (by a housekeeper with nose plugs) until it became juice. Suffice it to say that my brother and I wouldn’t touch the glass, let alone drink the stuff in it, so we discreetly discarded it out the window. Alas, today we both need glasses, but 17 floors below our old kitchen in New York City is the healthiest tree you’ve ever seen.

Liver juice aside, today on almost every corner in Manhattan there’s a bar touting the ‘juice du jour.’ For me, that’s way better than say, Burger King. To The Lawyer, it’s a shameful waste of good real estate, since the thought of kale juice has about as much appeal as, well, a kale anything else. But he does listen to the experts, other than his wife of course. So I asked Michael T. Murray, N.D., renowned natural medicine expert and bestselling author of more than 30 books, including his latest one, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality (Clarkson Potter, 2014) to weigh in.

JWM: We do know the benefits of drinking fresh juices. But many of my readers and listeners have asked me if it’s better to just eat the whole fruit or vegetable. Why juice?

Dr. Murray: Well, if you think about it, the body actually converts the foods we eat into juice so the nutrients can be easily absorbed. So juicing it before you consume it saves the body energy, resulting in increased vitality. It also delivers more soluble fiber faster and in an easier-to-digest form.

JWM: A lot of bottled juices claim to contain vitamins and minerals. Is fresh always better?

Dr. Murray: Yes! Fresh juice contains many more vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional compounds, such as enzymes and flavonoids–than its canned or bottled counterparts, which have been cooked (pasteurized) to keep them on the shelves longer. Cooking can cause the loss of up to 97 percent of water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and C), and up to 40 percent of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

JWM: Do homemade juices have increased antioxidant and anticancer properties as well?

Dr. Murray: They do! In fact, a study comparing commercial apple juice with freshly juiced apples found that fresh, raw juice had more antiviral compounds than the store-bought versions. Another study found that fresh, raw apple juice and berry juice (especially raspberries and blackberries) has more ellagic acid, a potent anticancer and antioxidant compound that is stripped from juice when it’s been processed.

JWM: I’ve heard that some fresh juices also help get rid of toxins. How do they work?

Dr. Murray: Speaking just of fresh fruit juice…fruit contains ample glutathione, a small protein composed of 3 amino acids, which are also manufactured in our cells, which aid in the detoxification of heavy metals such as lead, as well as the elimination of pesticides and solvents.

JWM: Talk a little about raw juicing and weight loss, if you will!

Dr. Murray: To begin with, it’s a phenomenal way to reach the goal of ingesting 60 percent of total calories from raw foods. Diets containing a high percentage (up to 60 percent of calories) of uncooked foods are associated with significant weight loss and lowering of blood pressure in overweight individuals.

JWM: Any quick recipe to share?

Dr. Murray: For a delicious, nutritious fruit juice, put two whole apples, sliced in quarters, and 1/2 cup each of raspberries and blackberries through a juicer. Drink it up right away for a blast of energy and nutrients.

JWM: Dr. Murray, leaving the topic of juicing for a moment, I have been aware of your work for many years. And you have been a vocal proponent of natural medicine and healing. Yet, as a society, we seem to be surrounded by illness in epidemic proportions. Why has there been such a lack of acceptance of natural medicine thus far?

Dr. Murray: Thank you for asking that! For the last 30 years I have done my best to educate and inspire others to utilize the healing power of nature. I feel that the biggest factor for this lack of acceptance and use of natural approaches to health and healing is the current financial model of medicine. It is a complex scenario based upon companies and people profiting from a disease-oriented approach. The whole system is based upon the treatment of disease instead of the promotion of health.

JWM: I agree. And like my mother, you were way ahead of your time. What was the inspiration for the first edition of your book, The Complete Book of Juicing, back in 1992?

Dr. Murray: In 1992 there was a tremendous renaissance in the appreciation of fresh fruit and vegetable juice in promoting health. It was really the result of infomercials touting new juicer technologies. My goal in writing the first edition was to use it as a platform to educate people on the factual benefits of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice as opposed to the unsubstantiated overstated benefits that were flying around at the time.

JWM: You recently released a revised edition, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality. How pertinent is it for today’s deteriorating lifestyle habits?

Dr. Murray: Gaining the benefits of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice is even more important today than it was 20 years ago. The reason for the update of the book is to deal with the explosion of new information on the important healing and health benefits produced by the simple incorporation of drinking fresh juice into a person’s daily habits.

JWM: Cynics aside, over the last three decades, have you seen a growing inclination/awareness/adoption toward alternative medicine? Do you feel social connectedness is a major contributor to this?

Dr. Murray: There has definitely been a tremendous increase in the awareness of many aspects of what is now considered alternative medicine. In fact, in the last 30 years we have seen the acceptance of many truths that were self-evident back then, but were widely argued against by conventional medicine.

JWM: For example?

Dr. Murray: First of all, the notion that dietary factors were the major determinants of many forms of cancer was viewed as being unfounded from a scientific perspective. Now that link is irrefutable, and the link between diet and many other health conditions is also much better understood today than it was then. The health food industry has been the incubator for many changes in our popular culture. For instance, 30 years ago who outside of the health food industry would have heard of probiotics, antioxidants, gluten, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and herbs like ginkgo biloba?

JWM: I think there are a lot of explanations for the enlightenment of the consumer toward natural health and natural products. But at the end of the day, I don’t think the awareness is the result of some huge advertising campaign. People are actually experiencing positive results from natural medicine and spreading the word to their family and friends. And that’s a good thing. That being said, any final pearls of wisdom for the benefit of Intent readers, so they, too can become Better Than Before?

Dr. Murray: There is no single magic bullet for turning your life and your health around. It requires focusing on all areas of your life. Each component has a powerful effect on the whole system. And, it goes beyond a health-promoting diet and lifestyle. It also requires being a guardian of your attitude and self-talk in order to program yourself to be more positive, adaptable, and committed to life. I do believe that there is a purpose to our lives, and taking care of our body, mind, and spirit is critical in achieving that purpose. So, we need to be very good to ourselves and those around us.

photo by: Food Thinkers

Better Than Before: How Diet Effects Mood with Elizabeth Somer

Elizabeth SomerQuite frankly, with the type of winter we have had so far in New York – and continuing to have, now into March – I sometimes think that only a trip to a Caribbean island will make me feel better! Thoughts of a swim in the warm ocean, lying around the sun-drenched white sand, and having one (or ten) of those drinks with the little umbrellas will undoubtedly do the trick. But obviously most of us can’t hop right on a plane to a tropical island. And, snow and cold aside, why aren’t we enjoying winter, anyway? Sledding, skiing, skating aren’t just for watching during the Olympics! And after all, being Better Than Before is all about living in the moment.

I took my query to Elizabeth Somer, author of the bestselling Eat Your Way to Happiness, and highly sought-after and respected source of nutritional information and lifestyle changes. I was hoping she could share some good news on how to keep in a good mood – not to mention not gain twenty pounds from all those hot chocolates with mini marshmallows – while we wait and wait…and wait, for spring.

JWM: Let’s start with the obvious basic question: Why does our mood often plummet during the winter?

ES: At its foundation, it’s biological. The seasonal drop in sunlight throws brain chemistry out of whack, making some of us more anxious, depressed, and tired this time of year. We snap at the kids, sleep more, crave sweets, and as a result, gain weight.

JWM: Can depression, mood swings, and chronic irritability be symptoms of more serious problems than just winter blues? Other than PMS or menopause, that is.

ES:. Yes, it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The winter blues and SAD rest on the same continuum, differing only in their degree of severity. In other words, a person suffering from winter blues might feel grumpy and tired, while someone with SAD suffers serious depression, with feelings of desperation, anxiety, and exhaustion. If your depression interferes with important aspects of your life, such as your job or relationships, or if you have feelings of hopelessness, these are possible symptoms of SAD that should be discussed with a physician.

JWM: Who suffers from it? Other than we confirmed hypochondriacs, of course.

ES: Approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans battle the winter blues. The reasons why our moods slip and our appetites take over by mid-winter could be simply that we’re cooped up, bored, and restless; or it could have a deeper cause, resulting from a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood and hunger. Whatever the reason, most people have some kind of behavior change in the winter. Children and teens can suffer from the winter blues, too.

JWM: What could be some of the signs?

ES: The main ones are obvious – depression and fatigue that lingers. Or, ask yourself the following: Has your mood plummeted along with the temperature? While you stare forlornly out the window at another bleak, winter day, is your spouse dozing rather than playing with the kids? Do you find yourself power snacking on Skittles by the 5th day of rainstorms. If so, you could be battling winter blues or SAD.

JWM: Are there foods and activities — other than Skittles– that you recommend that can boost our mood in these darkened days?

ES: Absolutely. First of all, you might consider finding more light. If your mood improves while vacationing down South, for example, it’s probably more the sunshine than the trip. [Or the drinks with umbrellas.] The researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, are among those who have linked dark winter skies to low levels of serotonin, which makes some people drowsy and more prone to depression. Ample sunshine hitting the retina of our eyes triggers a cascade of events in the brain that raises serotonin levels. Voila! Moods improve! Up to 80% of SAD and winter blues sufferers report at least some relief when exposed for 30 minutes to 1 1 /2 hours daily to sunlight or a specialized light box that emits light 5- to 20-times brighter than typical indoor light. Check out the internet for a local resource for these lights.

JWM: How about diet? Any suggestions?

ES: Eat Regularly: Don’t attempt to skip breakfast in an effort to cut calories. You’ll overeat later in the day, struggle more with mood swings and fatigue, and battle a weight problem in the long run. Be sure to eat breakfast, but make it light and include some carbohydrates, such as cereal, fruit, and milk. Then have lunch. Something as simple as a sandwich, nonfat milk, and a piece of fruit will fuel your brain, body, and mood.

JWM: One way a lot of us make the cold hours pass better is with something to nibble on. What about snacks?

ES: Snack, but not on sweets. A voracious sweet tooth during the winter months also might stem from low serotonin levels. Chowing down on sweets works temporarily – serotonin levels rise and we feel better. But that high is followed by a crash, setting up a roller coaster of highs and lows that causes overeating and weight gain. Replace these foods with more nutritious sweet treats, such as fresh-sliced kiwi mixed with nonfat strawberry-kiwi yogurt, a half papaya filled with lemon yogurt, fresh fruit layered in a parfait glass and topped with a dollop of low-fat whipped cream, or nonfat milk whipped in a blender with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

JWM: But how about people who have a sweet tooth? As you said, sugar is counter-effective in the long run. What should they do?

ES: One way to sooth your mood and save your waistline is to switch from fatty sweets to high-quality carbs, such as whole grain breads and crackers, brown rice, oatmeal, or starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes. Plan a mid-afternoon all-carb snack, such as half a whole wheat English muffin with jam, 3 fig bars, or drizzle honey over a toasted cinnamon bagel to counteract the desire to eat sweets at this crave-prone time of day. Also include carb-rich foods in your meals, such as pasta primavera or marinara, whole wheat couscous, or yams cut into strips and baked on a cookie sheet to make ‘French fries.’ (Serotonin also improves sleep, so a serotonin-boosting evening snack, such as air-popped popcorn or a scoop of sorbet, will help you sleep better, too!)

JWM: There is a lot that has been written about omega-3 fat DHA elevating your mood. How do you feel about that?

ES: You can definitely boost your spirits by taking either omega-3 fat DHA supplements of food rich in it. Research shows that this fat helps boost mood all year long, especially in the winter. In fact, DHA curbs depression by up to 50% in people who are the most difficult to treat; and even helps those who just battle a bit of grumpiness. Interestingly, researchers have found that people who are depressed have much lower levels of omega-3 fats in their blood, fat tissues, and brains — up to 36% lower than happy people. In fact, as omega-3 levels drop, so do levels of serotonin, leaving people grumpy, blue, and downright depressed. If your DHA levels are low, you have a 2.6 times greater risk of getting really crabby and blue compared to someone who keeps those levels high. On the other hand, up your intake of omega-3 fat DHA and serotonin levels rise and mood improves. The evidence is so overwhelming that the American Psychiatric Association in 2006 recommended omega-3s be included in any treatment for depression.

JWM: What are the best foods for omega-3 fat?

ES: You can get all the omega-3 fat you need from flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, leafy greens or soy to help lower your risk for heart disease, but those foods will do nothing for your mood or memory. That’s because there are three omega-3 fats, and they are not all created equal. It is only the omega-3s in fish, especially DHA, which will boost your mood. Aim for 2 servings of omega-3-rich fish such as salmon every week, choose foods fortified with DHA, and/or take a daily supplement that contains at least 220 milligrams of DHA.

JWM: If we don’t see any improvement in our mood or appetite after a few weeks on a high-carb menu, what should we do?

ES: Try substituting some of those carbs for more protein. New research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that some people don’t experience a mood boost when they eat high-carb diets. So, if you still feel grumpy after a week’s worth of the high-carb choices, try cutting back on the carbohydrates and  increasing protein intake by adding a slice of turkey or a glass of milk to the meal. Protein has a satiating effect that keeps you full longer and curbs cravings in some people.

JWM: A lot of people drink coffee to improve their mood. But for some, like me, it has the opposite effect. What are your thoughts about this?

ES: It’s better to limit coffee. While caffeine is a great pick-me-up, if you are drinking more than 3 small cups a day, it could be fueling fatigue. For the person who is sensitive to sugar or caffeine, simply removing these substances from the diet may be all it takes to reduce or even eliminate depression, according to research from the University of South Alabama. How coffee affects mood is unclear, although caffeine is a drug that affects the nervous system. Cut back or eliminate coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, colas, and caffeine-containing medications, such as Excedrin, Dristan, and Dexatrim.

JWM: We spend so much time in heated rooms in the winter, leading to not only dry skin, but dry everything. Is that a factor?

ES: Absolutely. Actually, the first sign of dehydration is fatigue, which is the stepping stone for depression. Many of us are mildly dehydrated, because thirst is a poor indicator of your body’s need for water. Drink twice as much water as it takes to quench your thirst, or at least 8 glasses daily. Drink even more water if you exercise intensely or drink a lot of coffee and tea.

JWM: Are there any other supplements that you recommend that can affect our moods?

ES: It is difficult in winter to constantly keep up the proper quantities of fresh vegetables and fruit. So several nutrient deficiencies, including the B vitamins, are more common in the winter that indicate a link to impaired mental ability and mood swings. More than one in four patients with depression is deficient in vitamins B2, B6, and B12, and folic acid. B-rich foods include chicken, legumes, fish, bananas, avocados, and dark green leafy vegetables. A moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral, supplies these B vitamins and can fill in the nutritional gaps on those days when you don’t eat perfectly. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that low vitamin D levels, which can occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, might contribute to winter blues. So make sure your supplement has at least 1000IU of this important nutrient.

JWM: What about exercise? Please don’t say to take a spin class or use the elliptical machines, my two fitness nemeses in any season!

ES: Any kind of exercise is good. It’s well proven that people who are vigorously active almost every day are at much lower risk for developing any form of depression, including winter blues.

Now if I can get my husband, The Lawyer, to sprint to take omega-3 supplements while drinking a gallon of water, I might have some peace around here before springtime!

How Much Sodium Does a Water Softener Add to Your Diet?

When you think of drinking a glass of water, you probably don’t worry about drinking a bunch of sodium. However, depending on where you live and your local water supply, you could be drinking saltier water than you have to. Many households use water softeners that contain sodium to get rid of hard water. Understanding how water softeners work and your options for softening your water will help you make the best decision for your home.

What Is the Difference Between Hard & Soft Water?

As water moves through pipes to reach your house, it can pick up minerals from the pipes and the ground. Depending on the amount of minerals in the water, chemists classify water as hard or soft. Hard water has lots of magnesium and calcium ions. Soft water has less magnesium and calcium ions but may have sodium or potassium ions instead. These ions in your water can affect everything from the water’s taste to how well your detergent works to build up in your plumbing.

The minerals in hard water can combine with detergent to produce a sticky scum that will end up anywhere you use soap. Hard water can also leave water stains on glasses washed in a dishwasher. Because of these issues, most people use water softeners to remove some of the minerals from hard water and have better-washed clothes and dishes. Soft water may feel more slippery and sometimes has a slightly salty taste.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Water softeners are systems that contain a resin through which your drinking water passes. As the water moves through the resin, the resin pulls the calcium and magnesium ions out and puts in either sodium or potassium ions instead. These sodium and potassium ions work better with your detergent to help remove dirt and oil, to the point that you can use less soap to get everything just as clean.

Water softeners typically treat your drinking water and not water used in irrigation. You need to backwash the resin in the water softener system to remove any dirt and make sure that the correct balance of sodium or potassium ions is present to remove the magnesium and calcium. Sometimes water softening systems need more salt added to recharge the resin with sodium ions.

How Much Sodium Is Added to the Water?

The amount of sodium added from a water softening system varies based on the manufacturer and specifications of the system. Untreated tap water already has a small amount of sodium in it. If you live in an area with very hard water, you will need to add more sodium to make your water soft. Typically water softening systems add between 10 to 40 milligrams of sodium per eight ounce glass of water. While this may not seem like a lot of sodium, it presents a source of sodium that most people don’t consider when they think of dietary sodium in their daily intake.

Why Should You Avoid Salt-Based Water Softener Systems?

If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you should avoid using salt-based water softener systems. These systems will introduce more sodium into your diet. Even if you are not concerned about the sodium, these systems use extra water during the backwashing phase. Salt-based water softener systems waste water because water is used to flush the system. Salt-based water softener systems are not environmentally friendly due the excess sodium pumped back into the sewer system.

There are options for non-sodium based water softeners to suit your needs. Saltless water softener systems do not use chemicals or salts of any kind. No added salt means that your water is not slippery or salty tasting. Because there is no salt, the salt-free water softener systems do not waste water or add sodium to the sewer system.

When dealing with hard water in your home, you have options to keep your plumbing free of buildup and your dishes and clothes as clean as possible without using excess detergent. Understanding the differences between the various water softening systems can direct you towards the system that will work best for your home. Which system would you prefer for your home?

Set Your Intents By Finding Your Passion

As you can see, we are already hard at work at making 2014 the Year of Intent. Mallika wrote a blog post about what makes a good intent and how to write it, but how do you find out what your soul desires?

In our experience setting intents from a place of passion greatly increases your odds to stay motivated to manifest your intent. Do you know what your passion is? For some people it’s simple but for a lot of us that question can be kind of complicated. Maybe we know what area interests us – like writing or fitness or helping people, but we aren’t sure how to refine that into one coherent intent. Or maybe you’re still searching for that thing that makes you happy to get up in the morning.

If the latter is the case try asking yourself a few simple questions: In your free time what are you most often doing? Try describing your perfect day to yourself. What are your hobbies? What sort of things make you feel relaxed and at peace? It could be that your great passion is something you’ve never tried before, but exploring the things in your life that make you happy right now are the key to finding your path. If your perfect day includes a lot of being outside then maybe you’re passionate about nature and the environment. Were you doing something like a hike? Then maybe you should consider an intent to hike a challenging trail or to increase your stamina to hike further than you have before. Did your perfect day involve curling up somewhere and catching up on all the reading you’ve been meaning to do? Set an intent to finish the stack of novels by your bed. Or be adventurous enough to try writing one of your own. Maybe your perfect day would be spent with some mystery person that makes you feel special. Set an intent to date more or be more social! Intents can be about anything and can help you reach any goal for yourself. Follow the good feels and you’ll know when you’ve hit the right spot.

Found your area? Great. How do you refine that to a specific intent? It can be overwhelming when you think of all the things you want to accomplish and narrowing it down may seem like an insurmountable task. Take a moment to think. When setting your intent, be brave. Your inner self already knows what it wants, you just have to listen. Don’t be quick to talk yourself out of an intent or a certain goal by saying you can’t get there before you even begin. (On the flipside, don’t create a situation for yourself that really is impossible because you will only be met with the frustration of failing your own expectations. And that sucks.) Be ambitious, but realistic. And remember, we’re here to support you.

If you need a little motivation to remember how awesome you are and your true potential, check out this video. It was created as a response to Nash Grier’s “What Guys Look For in Girls” video, but without the context it’s an inspiring set of words for anyone.

What’s your passion? Tell us in the comments below! 

photo by: AlicePopkorn

Keep Your Health and Fitness Intents by Varying Your Routine

bepresenteachmomentThe most popular resolutions that are made for New Year’s relate to health and fitness. At Intent we really push the idea that you should strive not to make resolutions or physical goals like “I want to lose 30 pounds” but dig deeper in yourself and set intentions about how you want to feel for the new year – “I want to feel healthier and have a better sense of wellness.” It’s also important that to achieve your intent you set realistic smaller goals to motivate you to satisfy the intent desire in your soul. But once you have set your intent and created realistic landmarks to help you get there, how do you stay on track? According to StatisticBrain.com, 24% of people never reach their intended resolutions.

Your chances of succeeding at your intent increase as long as you keep the passion for it alive, and that means not letting yourself get bored. More than half of new exercisers quit within three to six months after starting a workout program, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you get bored or dread working out then you are much less likely to keep up the regimen. So how do you step out of your comfort zone? Try these tips.

  1. Try a new healthy food or recipe once a week – By expanding your food vocabulary you force yourself to learn more about the nutritional values of food, making it easier for you to make decisions about meals and snacks in the long term. Think of finding a new recipe as a new adventure. You can learn to love new foods or love your current favorites in brand new ways and this will prevent you from getting burned out on the same routine meals. “Find healthy foods you love, or learn creative ways to prepare foods so that eating is not a punishment, but a pleasant, (sometimes even spiritual) experience that involves mindfulness and togetherness,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood.
  2. Take a group fitness class – There are so many ways to get in shape besides tying yourself to a treadmill or elliptical. It can be as simple as going for walks outside or changing your running route. Look at your local fitness center for their classes and pick something that you’ve never tried before. In September, Sports Club/LA launched their “Recess” classes, which helped adults work out by playing the games they had so much fun playing as a child.  Or you may try one of their Blitz classes which is a full body work out designed to improve your endurance, strength and power. Take a yoga class for a month and then switch to cardio dance classes. Not only do you allow yourself the chance to try new things and meet new people, but also you work out different parts of the body and you allow exercising to be something you really enjoy rather than an appointment with a machine you’ve grown to dread. You are not a hamster on a wheel, so why create a work out routine that makes you feel like one?
  3. Stay centered and in touch with your intent – Sometimes our intents evolve as time goes on and it is important to stay connected to that feeling. Trust yourself to change as your intent changes. By building a meditation or yoga practice to keep your center you can feel when a routine has started to not work and you can use your inner instincts to adapt your routine to what your body and mind are telling you it needs. “Physical activity along with peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self. This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation,” Sherwood explains.

By combining these tips you not only increase your chances of reaching your intent, but you also give yourself more opportunities to grow and learn more about your health. Being adventurous with your fitness and nutrition routines not only makes the journey more interesting but you get a deeper appreciation for the journey as you go on, and that will propel you forward. We hope you take these tips to heart and that your 2014 is healthier than ever.

Protect Yourself From Food Bourne Illnesses

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 1.31.38 AMEarlier this year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report about Salmonella poisoning in various imported spices that people use every day. Shortly thereafter there was a nationwide panic when Salmonella was found in grocery store chicken. With these various threats it is important to know what you’re dealing with and how keep yourself safe from salmonella and other food-borne illness. And it is especially important to us that you understand why you never have to worry about such contaminants in Wakaya Perfection products.

What exactly is Salmonella?

The FDA defines Salmonella as a group of bacteria that is the most common cause of food poisoning. Symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea and fever, usually last 4-7 days and many can get better without treatment. However, symptoms can be more severe or lead to more serious illnesses in older adults, infants and those with chronic illnesses.

What are the sources and how do you prevent it from being in your food?

Salmonella is usually found in uncooked eggs, poultry and meat. It can also be found in unpasteurized milk, juice, cheese, raw fruits and vegetables, and spices that have been processed improperly.

The primary ways to avoid Salmonella are to make sure that your meat and egg products are thoroughly cooked. Salmonella is usually killed off at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also make sure to wash your hands properly before handling any raw food products, especially if you are interacting with animals or their treats beforehand. Germs can easily transfer from humans to the food, and if not heated properly can lead to Salmonella poisoning.

Be careful with your cooking utensils as well. Don’t use the same utensils to handle raw products that you do when your food is finally cooked. Check your labels and packaging for refrigeration protocols and follow them. Food that is not properly refrigerated before cooking can also carry the bacteria.

Why are you safe with Wakaya Perfection?

First of all, all of our products are 100% organic which means there are absolutely no outside pesticides or chemicals used in their processing. They are watered completely by Fijian natural rains – no man-made irrigation is used to cultivate our ginger plants.

Once our ginger is ground it is cooked for many hours in a sealed convection oven and immediately processed in our USDA NOP certified full stainless steel sealed suction powder processing machinery that allows no human contact or surrounding air contamination.. It is totally enclosed in the system for the entire process.

The packaging is immediate with no delays and no contaminants entering the system at any stage. The proprietary process is strictly controlled at every stage for immediate processing and not exposed to open environmental and human pollutants.  Our state of the art USDA NOP certified organically registered factory facility is our consumers’ guarantee of quality, purity and superior hygiene at all times.

Why Wait: Setting Realistic Intents for 2014 to Increase Your Success

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As December draws to a close people begin looking towards the year ahead and making their resolutions. At Intent, we encourage people to think a little deeper, to set their goals based on the desires of their soul. As you are creating your list of intents for 2014 there are several things to consider. Often times people set goals that are unrealistic and when they realize that they won’t be able to reach that expectation they give up entirely. Don’t let that happen to you,especially if you are setting intents related to your health and fitness. Create goals that challenge you, but that you know you can reach so that it motivates you to keep going.

To help you start off 2014 in a healthier way, and maintain that change throughout the year, we talked to our friends at Sports Club/LA on how to set Intents that are realistic for your personality and lifestyle to help you create permanent change. Follow these tips when making your 2014 New Year Intent lists.

  1. Avoid Specific Numbers and Go for Overall Change – The most popular “resolution” on lists this year will be “Lose x amount of pounds.” Stop right there. There have been several studies that show your weight number does not necessarily correlate to your overall health, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. If you start playing a numbers game then you already set yourself up for unnecessary pressure. Instead create an intent similar to “I intend to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.” It’s more general, but it leads to more lasting change. It means not only are you going to work out, but take into account your nutrition and spiritual health as well. When you begin to think broader about your overall health, you don’t tie yourself to a treadmill trying to sweat it out into a new pair of jeans. You begin making small changes in several aspects of your life to make you a happier person in general. Challenge yourself to think deeper, not heavier.
  2. Choose Smarter Nutrition Over Fad Diets – Your eating habits can account for up to 80% of your overall weight loss, so beginning to change your nutrition needs to be taken seriously. If you start automatically on January 1 (or tomorrow) on a fad diet that cuts out all of the foods that you’ve been used to eating, you won’t last very long. Instead it is about baby steps and making small, gradual changes so that you build making healthy choices into your routine instead of something you torture yourself to do for a few weeks – because then the results will be temporary as well. Look at improving your nutrition for good as your gateway to a healthier you! “What we choose to put in our mouth is the most intimate experience we’ll have, therefore it’s important that food be looked at with the intent of supporting and nourishing the body,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “Foods that the body recognizes, i.e. fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and some grains should round out a person’s diet in moderate portion sizes. Weight loss is then just side effect of a truly nourished body. “
  3. Plan Challenging Routines that Don’t Ever Extend Yourself – The likelihood of you being able to go from couch to a 7-days a week work out regimen and sustain it is very unlikely. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead set a more realistic goal of 2-3 days a week to begin. This way if something comes up and you can’t make it one day you are still getting in a regular routine. Or start a regular class to get your feet wet – some place that will hold you accountable without overwhelming your schedule. As Karen also explains, creating a life change is about baby steps. “To make a complete life-change, taking baby steps and “leaning” into a new way of being is key. This enables us to pave a new foundation and build from there. It must begin with nutrition, and include an active life-style with focus on self care, rest, and stress management. When all of these wheels are working in harmony, the body and its relationship to food and the outside world begins to make sustainable change.”

Look over your list of 2014 intents and check them with these tips. If your current intents feel too numbers based or too specific, take a minute to think deeper – why are you setting that intent? Why is that something you desire? When you can answer those questions,  that is your true intent and focusing on that more encompassing goal will be more fulfilling than checking off a simple box. Setting an overall intent can allow you to make smaller goals, to create a plan of baby steps to reach it. Realize that creating true change in your life takes time and don’t rush it – allow yourself the patience to get there at the pace that is right for you.

Have you started your 2014 Intent list? We’d love to hear them so share in the comments below!

Two Recipes to Personify the Winter Season

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 11.19.44 PMThere are so many things to love about winter: soft, fluffy scarves to bundle up in, holidays to celebrate with loved ones, and of course all the many traditional dishes filled with hearty ingredients and warm spices.

The ingredient that personifies this time of year more than any other for me is ginger.  It’s a spicy spice in the best kind of way one that warms you from the inside out.  It works in everything from a Thanksgiving cranberry chutney recipe to a simple herbal tea.  And ginger is not just about flavor and spice, it’s also one of the most well studied herbs in botanical medicine, with an impressive body of research to support its use for a variety of health conditions including improvement in muscle and joint pain, nausea due to pregnancy or chemotherapy and a variety of other conditions where inflammation plays a role (which is almost everything).

Fun fact: Dried ginger is ten times more healing than fresh

Here are a couple recipes with ginger that I love to make this time of year:

Simple Ginger Tea

I make this tea when I’m feeling cold and a bit lazy.  It leaves me feeling instantly warm and healthy.

  • Thoroughly wash a chunk of fresh ginger rhizome (root) and use a carrot grater to remove the outer skin
  • Slice lengthwise into two or three thick pieces and add one to two slices to a cup of very hot water or tea (green or raspberry leaf are some of my favorite choices)
  • Steep for 3-4 minutes and enjoy

Superfood Muesli

I’ve modified this recipe from one I was introduced to while in naturopathic medical school.  I love it because you can make a big batch that will last for weeks and it’s fun to get creative with different spices and ingredients.  Although this dish can be eaten warm or cold, I like to warm it up in the winter for a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that provides excellent whole-food nutrition and energy.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled grains (e.g. oats, rye, barley, and/or rolled rice flakes)
  • 2 cups oat bran
  • ½ cup dried, unsulphured fruit (e.g. raisins, dates, blueberries, cranberries)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds (can be ground)
  • 1 cup raw nuts (e.g. walnuts and almonds)
  • 1 cup seeds (e.g. ground flax seed, chia)
  • 1 tsp each of one or more of ground ginger

Combine all ingredients, mix well and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  To make a single serving, scoop a ½ cup into a bowl and add 1 cup liquid (e.g. water, nut milk or dairy milk are all good options).  Soak overnight and then heat in microwave in the morning or, to prepare right away, heat in a saucepan until grains are soft and ingredients have absorbed all the liquid.

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Image by Muy Yum

What Are You Hungry For Recipe Round Up: Snacks to Meals and Sweet Desserts

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 8.20.14 AMFor the last two weeks we hosted a “What Are You Hungry For?” give away and had a lot of submissions for our favorite healthy snack or meal recipe portion. While we could only pick one to win for the give away, we had so many good options that we wanted to showcase them for everyone. So everyone get your bookmarks and grocery lists ready because there are some very tasty and awesome options here for you, for the holiday season and all year round! (All links open in a new tab so it’s easy for you to save and come back for others)

Snacks

Roasted Brussel Sprout Chips – Debbie R.

No Bake Energy Bites – Julia W.

Meals

Paleo Egg in Ham Cups“I’ve been starting my day with this. It’s quite easy to substitute sliced turkey if one doesn’t eat pork.  And there’s so little prep and clean up for such a pretty, fool-proof meal.  I heat the oven while I put the coffee on, pop it in while I shower, and the egg is ready 15 minutes later, perfect timing! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I’ve noticed a big, positive difference with this perfect-sized portion of pure protein.” – Gentry L.

Ricotta Fritters with Tomato Sauce & Courgette Salad* – “A proper, wholesome meal in minutes. These fritters are an absolute doddle and the crispy creaminess works a treat with the tomato sauce. Delicious at its best!” – Tatjana J. (Featured picture*)

Grilled Cheese Tomato SandwichPinki L.

Vegan

Kale Citrus Salad with Cranberries and Roasted Walnuts – “It is super fresh with vibrant colors, a burst of citrus, tang of cranberries, a nutty crunch, and the star of the show: superfood Kale! This salad is sure to turn any kale-hater around.  With the addition of dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, it is a wildly colorful, incredibly tasty, and amazingly healthy addition to any holiday feast.” – Dawn G. 

West African Sweet Potato Supper with Coconut Rice – “This is one of my family’s favorite recipes I found on the internet: delicious, healthy, filling, easy.” – Irene R. 

Sweet Dessert

Apple Crisp from Whole Foods – “I’ve been making this crisp recipe for years. It combines both apples and pears and is great this time of year! I substitute agave for the granulated sugar and its awesome with coconut milk ice cream on top!” – Stephanie F.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough DipKarla H. 

Thank you to everyone who submitted! We hope you have fun trying out some of these dishes! If you have a favorite healthy snack or meal recipe you want to share put it in the comments below. And make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter for how to enter our other give aways happening throughout the month of December!

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