Archive for: food
Every once in a while, I feel the urge to unplug from the news, social media and technology. Recently, after a two year hiatus from the news, I decided that enough time had passed to re-engage. I’ll admit that the timing couldn’t have been worse. It’s getting really scary out there, isn’t it? From rampant viruses to political turmoil, the news isn’t very encouraging. Fortunately, we, as a country, can still cling to some simple yet powerful truths — we have a strong military to protect us, the most advanced scientific achievements to make our lives better, and the resilience and fortitude that makes us all Americans. As Americans, we also have the freedom to take care of ourselves and there may be no better time than now to do that in a big way.
Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”? Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.” For those of you in combat situations or as first-responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”. The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.” Merriam-Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.” It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations. You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.
As summer winds down, I’m noticing an interesting trend that has developed over the past few months — my pension for all things water-related. From swimming to kayaking to paddle boarding, I’ve been on a mission to stay on or in the water as much as possible. I now officially have the SUP (stand up paddle board) addiction! Put me on the water with a paddle in my hand and I’m content for hours. If you haven’t checked it out, SUP-ing is an awesome full body workout engaging your core for balance, increasing flexibility, upper & lower body strength and decreasing stress…seriously, is there anything more calming than dipping your paddle into a clear, tranquil lake or the invigorating rush of catching the surf? My newly discovered passion has made me even more aware of how to tweak my nutrition to keep me on the water as long as possible this year.
Last weekend I returned to my parent’s home for a reunion with my mom’s family. We spent our days relaxing by the lake, talking up a storm and laughing until our sides were about to split! It took a couple of years for my mom to pull off this reunion as everyone’s schedules and circumstances were decidedly chaotic and stressful. I’m sure my family will agree that it was one of the most fun times we’ve had together in a long while. In fact, any stress we may have carried into the weekend was quickly diminished. When I left on Monday, everyone looked relaxed and happy. It made me realize that stress can take its toll on all of us and yet there are simple ways we can all crush it.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re about to walk up to a friend you’ve known for a long time and suddenly your mind goes blank. You’ve forgotten his or her name — I’m talking deer-in-headlights blank. While at first you are mortified and embarrassed that you’ve suffered what feels like a complete brain dump, you then begin to wonder what exactly is wrong with you. No matter your age or health, everyone experiences a mental gap once in a while for numerous reasons. This week I met with CogSports Group who specialize in cognitive testing for Navy SEALs, corporate leaders and sports teams. Their focus on mental toughness got me thinking (yes, I said that) about how to keep our brains as healthy as we keep our bodies. Over the next few weeks we’ll explore tips and tools for the proper care and feeding of your gray matter.
I’ve been in a really good mood lately. It may be the long summer days, the post-vacation relaxation or just the fact that it feels good to feel good, right? Even in the midst of a hectic work schedule, I still feel pretty darn good. A little bonus that put an even bigger smile on my face was when I saw the sign at my local farm stand shouting “You Pick Raspberries!” Now that’s what I call a great summer message. It got me thinking about how fun super foods can be to add to your day. Here are three simple ones that will have you kicking up your heels and whistling a happy tune.
When I was a little kid, I was convinced if I concentrated hard enough, I could take off on a magic carpet and fly around the world. Dragging my brother along for the “ride,” we laid one of my mom’s area rugs out on the front driveway, sat cross-legged, closed our eyes and visualized ourselves lifted off the ground. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for my brother to lose interest and my mom to demand her rug back! Fortunately, I’ve managed to channel that misguided imagination and adventurous spirit into other endeavors along the way. Although I have yet to levitate anything, I have learned a lot about defying gravity in other ways. A recent article by my friend and colleague, Tina Van Horn, shines the spotlight on a superior you and a truly “magical” formula to help you soar.
Yesterday I spoke with my friend Louise and found out that she just celebrated her 90th birthday by zip lining in South America! When she was 79 she realized that she felt old and didn’t like it so she decided to make some changes. By 80, she had taken up jogging again after a 40 year hiatus. At 85, she started a lecture series and wrote a book. It’s no surprise that everyone wants to know her secret to living such a long, youthful and energetic life. Our conversation got me thinking about the choices we make every day, both good and bad, and how the accumulation of those choices will dramatically affect us in the future. I know it feels lame for some to talk about prevention, but stick with me. You may learn a thing or two that will help you keep pace with Louise…that is, if you can catch her!
After a couple of days soaking my foot in epson salt and sporting flip flops until the swelling diminished, my foot injury from last weekend is healing up remarkably well. It’s a good thing, too, since my list of outdoor projects and activities is growing as long as the days are this summer. Since I’ve never been one to rush to the doctor post-injury or minor accident, I hobbled to the web instead to find some home remedies and explanations for my throbbing foot pain. While I don’t advocate that you should always seek your own medical advice especially when many sources are unreliable, there are some homegrown staples and supplies that may help heal the bumps and bruises that often accompany an active lifestyle.
I was thinking a lot about my grandfather this past weekend. He was a WWII Veteran so it was fitting to pay tribute to him as we memorialized all of the brave military members our country has lost in war. My grandfather never talked about his military experience but he always shared stories of his fishing adventures. You see, he and my grandmother were avid fishers in their retirement — give them a fishing pole and a bucket of bait and they were happy! Last Friday, my husband, Mark, enjoyed a day of fishing with his dad and our neighbor, Randy, a Maine Guide and decorated Veteran from the Vietnam War. After a day of telling lies and dropping lines, Mark returned with a beautiful fresh-caught salmon for dinner. From war stories to fish tales, a good day of fishing is worth its weight in memories. There is also something really cool about catching a fresh fish and cooking it for dinner in the same day. It also reminds us to do our diligence when it comes to adding fish to our diet.
Summertime, when it finally arrives in Maine, is gorgeous around here. The evidence of our love-affair with summer is apparent when every little corner shop along the backroads and highways turn into ice cream huts and clam shacks. Our coastal waters are a seafood lover’s cornucopia with every imaginable delicacy from huge, sweet sea scallops, to succulent lobster, and fresh haddock. Other delights like crab, clams and mussels make it hard to choose what’s for dinner! Are you jealous yet? Well, maybe you should be if you can’t get here for the one week in July we can officially call summer. For all of the other weeks, the good news is that you can enjoy great health benefits from other foods if you find yourself far away from our rocky coast.
Easter is the one time of year that I wish I could borrow my niece & nephews to help me dye hard-boiled eggs, fill baskets full of plastic grass and candy, and then enjoy the simple thrill of watching them race all over the house Easter morning searching for that last illusive egg — did we hide 11 or 12? Unfortunately, for my husband, he ends up being the one who patiently humors me while I make him do the Easter egg hunt. This year I ran out of time to hard-boil the eggs so he got off easy! Unfortunately, I’ve found myself missing the colorful bounty that typically resides in the refrigerator long after Easter Sunday. For most people, especially those watching their fat and cholesterol, eggs are off-limits even during the holidays. If that’s you, you may enjoy some news to put you on the sunny side of eggs.
Did I ever tell you about my dog, Loki? Actually, I’m pretty sure I have but since the tales of my wonder-pup grow more profound with each passing year, she’s definitely worth mentioning again. Loki was a fiercely loyal Siberian Husky and although small for her breed, she packed a wicked temper and a penchant for chasing all perceived foes off of our property including unsuspecting postal workers. Much like her Norse god namesake, she was as mischievous as my siblings and I were growing up. Our adventurous and fearless nature made us all quite a handful. When I finally watched The Avengers movie, I was shocked to find my super dog was perhaps named for a super villain! Whether friend or foe, superhero or super-villain, we all tend to be more powerful when we’re part of a team. The same is true when it comes to pairing up super nutrients to keep you in S.H.I.E.L.D. shape.
I’ve never been a big TV watcher, but admit that it has become a habit over the years to turn on a television when I enter a room. Frankly, I have no idea why I even bothered with the barrage of talking heads and screaming infomercials. As technology has advanced, my entertainment preferences have kept pace. With our AppleTV box and Netflix account, Mark and I shun conventional television programing for a huge variety of commercial-free options. It made me realize how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. Back in the early 1940’s when film & television were still in their infancy, going to the movies was one of the few entertainment options for most Americans. Enter Mighty Mouse. Originally created as a parody to Superman, Mighty Mouse quickly achieved iconic status as an intrepid hero of the common man. When evil advanced, Mighty Mouse was quick to answer the call, “Here I come to save the day!” Could there be a mighty hero to help your weight loss efforts as well?
Given my Italian and Lebanese ancestry, I’m convinced I have bread and pasta flowing through by veins. From fresh breadsticks and pizza crusts to large flat breads, there was always a wholesome, delicious wheat treat available no matter which grandparents’ home we visited. In fact, I never even knew white bread existed until I sat in a lunchroom at school and saw my Midwestern classmates role their doughy, lilly-white slices into chewy, starchy morsels. It was no surprise that on every grocery store trip, my mom had four children pining for a loaf of Wonder Bread so we could be just like all the other kids at school. Thankfully, she resisted our pleas. Whatever you experienced growing up, there’s value in delving deeper into the great grain debate.
I have a unique problem in my home office, especially as I write this article. You see, the sun is brilliant today, casting abundant light all over my house and yard. The only challenge is that we are still heavily snow-packed around here so the sun’s intensity is magnified by the white blanket of snow in my backyard. The reflection is so blinding that I’ve reluctantly had to close the shades so I can see the keyboard. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’d rather have the challenge of a sunny day over the dreariness of an overcast sky. It just made me realize how fortunate I am to have clear vision and healthy eyes. Eye health, for many, is often taken for granted until something threatens our vision. Maybe it’s time we put the focus on our eyes so they can return the favor.
I have a true confession for you — this weekend I caught a case of the sniffles. It’s probably been 5 years or longer since my last cold so I can’t complain too much. Undaunted by my semi-disease ridden body, however, I bundled up and ventured out to the grocery store to restock our exceedingly barren refrigerator. Perhaps influenced by my influenza, I loaded up my grocery cart with a refreshing variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Lengthy winter months often wither our resolve to eat fresh foods as many of us opt for comfort foods to warm us up when the cold winds blow. What better time to turn up our internal temperatures with an abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables as we march into March?
Did you ever walk through a museum or past a static display that enticed you with its rich texture, glimmering sheen or perhaps its historical significance? Instinctively, you reach out to indulge your tactile temptation only to find yourself recoiling at the sight of a “Do Not Touch” sign? I hate those signs, don’t you? It makes me obsessed to touch it at the risk of reprimand by the local curator or temporary incarceration in museum prison for my defiance. So, now I’m feeling a little guilty for spending the better part of this month telling you what you shouldn’t do. Maybe it would be helpful, instead, to hear what you can do when it comes to your heart health.
I feel honored and blessed to have a grandfather who was part of the Greatest Generation as a veteran of World War II. Although I don’t recall him sharing many stories from the war, I always found it interesting that he never smoke or drank during a time when it was common and, quite frankly, fashionable to do so. I feel equally fortunate that my parents never smoked. So, it came as a complete shock when I was old enough to discover that my uncles smoked cigarettes. Fearing for their health, my siblings and I hatched plans to bury their cartons of cigarettes on numerous occasions. While that may not have been the best method to get them to quit, it at least got their attention. At the time, I didn’t know why it was dangerous to smoke, I just knew that I loved my uncles and hated cigarettes. If you, or your sweetheart, still light up, the following heart disease facts may help you bury your butts too!
Living in a rural state like Maine, it’s easy to get spoiled by the solitude. With no traffic to speak of, nights are still and silent which makes for a perfect sleeping environment. It also makes it easier to get startled when an errant noise jolts you out of bed with your pounding heart leading the way. Isn’t it amazing how much we don’t think about our hard-working hearts until they remind us in a big way? Since February is a month in which we celebrate the decadence of Valentine’s Day along with the prudence of heart health month, let’s find a happy medium to enjoy both!