Ways To Enlighten Yourself In The Season Of Giving

This Article Written For And Published in Consumer Health Digest. (11/16/17)

“Happiness…consists in giving, and in serving others.”
—Henry Drummond

With the holiday season upon us, it is hard not to think about giving. In fact, everywhere we turn, we see reminders and they seem to come earlier and earlier each year. I am sure you know what I’m talking about—the decorations, the Christmas music, Christmas trees and more.

They prompt us to get out and shop for our friends, family or a special loved one. There’s also the hustling and bustling of people everywhere we turn. Yet some people are so focused on their lists and gift purchases, they forget to see who is front of them, or who they just walked past.

It is sad, but often we forget some of the best gifts we can give to others is our smiles, our attention and our time. We are all guilty of this once in awhile, but it is important to remember a smile can go a long way, especially during the holiday season.

We are all busy, often preoccupied with our own lives. It is easy to forget the holiday season can be a challenging time for many, and a smile just might make someone’s day as well as your own.

In fact, Wayne Dyer in his book, The Power of Intention, tells us “research shows that a simple act of kindness directed toward another improves* the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness.

extending the kindness

Even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness have similar beneficial results. Imagine this! Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved!”1

That is pretty amazing if you think about it and who doesn’t want to improve* the function of their immune system and feel good at the same time?

So how can you make a difference this holiday season? There are many ways you can help others and show you care. All it takes is a conscious effort and willingness to step out of your own world for a short period of time.

Ways To Make A Difference This Holiday Season

1. Volunteering

There are plenty of places where you can volunteer, especially during the holiday season. Why not volunteer a few hours at a local soup kitchen, food shelf or facility that helps that helps those with disabilities or those less fortunate?

Many non-profit agencies are especially busy during the holiday season and could use some extra hands to help others.

2. Visit A Nursing Home

Visit A Nursing Home

Many nursing home residents are lonely and could use some cheer. We have to remember that not everyone has family to visit them during the holidays.

Why not find a local home near you and drop off a box of chocolates, bring Christmas cookies, play a game of cards or just spend some time with someone talking? You just might make someone’s day and brighten your own.

3. Donate To A Food Shelf

Most of us visit the grocery store at least once a week, or more. Why not plan a special trip to pick out some of your favorite non-perishable food items to give to a local food shelf.

Many food shelves are busier than normal during the holidays and are in need of
extra items. You can get the kids or other family members involved and make it a fun event for all.

4. Practice Random Acts Of Kindness

There are many ways you can show kindness to others. You can open a door for another person, offer to help carry someone’s groceries, return a grocery cart for someone or let someone go ahead of you in a long line.

You can also buy someone a cup of coffee, pay for someone’s lunch or someone’s bag of groceries. There are many possibilities. Why not do a little brain-storming and come up with a few to try yourself.

Practice Random Acts Of Kindness

5. Find A Needy Family In Your Area That Could Use A Little Help

There are many people in need around you, even though you may not always realize it. Perhaps there’s someone in your neighborhood who is struggling to make ends meet.

People on a low-income often have difficulties paying the bills, let alone enough to buy holiday presents. Why not contact a local church in your community to see if can help a needy family?

Many churches work with organizations that help the poor and may know specific families that could use some help. In addition, some churches have giving trees, where you can drop off gifts for children.

Gift Yourself!

The holiday season can be a stressful time, especially if you are planning for visitors, a holiday party and shopping for gifts and groceries. Why not take a little time and gift yourself with a little rest or relaxation in spite of all the busyness?

When you run yourself ragged, it is hard to give to back, whereas if you take time for a little self-care, you will be better prepared to keep going and serve others. You might be surprised how practicing a little self-care might be just what you need to make a difference in the season of giving and keep that smile on your face.

Yoga

Ways To Practice Self-Care

    • Yoga

      Even if you are a person who practices yoga on a regular basis, it is easy to get off track when your lists are long and you have a bunch scheduled activities you don’t normally have on your calendar.

      While it may be easy to blow-off your regular yoga session, do yourself a favor and attend the class as usual. Yoga is calming and helps you stay in balance. If you’ve always wanted to try yoga, the holiday season may be just the time to do it.

      When you give yourself time to re-energize and relax, you can focus more, which is something we all need during the busy holiday season.

    • Manicure Or Pedicure

      Many people dress up for the holidays. Why not dress up your nails, as well? While you might think you are too busy to get a manicure or pedicure, the quiet time may help you focus more and actually help you accomplish an extra task on your to do list.

      A hand or foot massage can also help relieve the extra tension that may accompany the power shopping you’ve been out doing.

ManicureOrPedicure

Christmas Dishes: Top 10 Christmas Dinner Menu You Must Try

  • Massage

    Your muscles naturally tense up when you are stressed and over-doing it. Why not take some time to have a massage and relax a bit before those guests arrive for your party or your family is in town.

    It might be the perfect way to escape for an hour and ease some tension. Massage is therapeutic and can help promote sleep. It can also help your immune system to function better, which can be especially beneficial during the hectic holiday season.

    Wishing you peace, smiles and Happy Holidays!

References

¹ Dyer, Wayne. The Power of Intention. Hayhouse Publishing, Inc. Copyright © 2010 by Wayne Dyer. pg 27.
Image Credits
Feature Image: Shutterstock.com
In-Post Image: Shutterstock.com

5 Super Foods To Add To Your Diet…

With the obesity epidemic on the rise, many people today are concerned and rightly so. There are a lot of individuals buying and eating the wrong foods, which can cause weight gain and illness. This is a problem, but fortunately some individuals have begun to take a greater interest in the foods they eat and are turning to more nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and other whole foods. Others are experimenting with adding more super foods to their diet. If you are wondering what super foods are they are “foods that are nutrient dense and considered especially beneficial to the body.¹ Many fruits and vegetables, as well a number of whole foods are considered super foods, since they contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. In this blog, I wanted to share 5 super foods to add to your diet to promote well-being.

5 Super Foods To Add To Your Diet…

  1. Blueberries—
    blueberries
    Blueberries are a popular sweet treat that are not only a super food, but are super good. Blueberries have a delicious, appealing taste that many people enjoy and are loaded with phytochemicals, antioxidants and minerals. Blueberries also help fight inflammation, strengthen the immune system and help fight cancer. They also are useful in managing diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and help protect against heart disease. Blueberries contain a healthy dose of vitamin C, which helps strengthen immunity. They also contain vitamin k, vitamin B-6, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, fiber and more. If you aren’t eating blueberries already, you might want to consider including them in your diet. Blueberries can be eaten as a snack, for breakfast or in other delicious recipes. Try adding them to your smoothie, yogurt, cereal or indulge in a tasty blueberry pie.
  2. Spinach—
    spinach
    Spinach is a power-house, when it comes to vegetables. That’s because spinach is packed with numerous vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your body. It is no-wonder Pop-Eye ate spinach for strength and endurance. Spinach is an excellent source of nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K1, calcium, folic acid, magnesium and more. Spinach additionally contains non-heme iron, which is found in plant-based foods and is beneficial to those suffering from iron deficiency anemia. In fact, in my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, I talk a little about how I included spinach in my breakfast and other meals daily. Spinach is truly a super food and works super good to help build iron in your body. Spinach has other benefits, as well. Spinach is useful for cancer prevention, heart disease and eye health, to name a few. Try adding this super food to your morning smoothies, salads, lasagna, stir-fries, spaghetti sauce or chow mein for some added energy and nutrients.
  3. Almonds—
    almonds
    When it comes to nuts, almonds top the favorites list for many people. It’s not surprising they are the most popular nut in the United States. They are also one of the healthiest tree nuts available. Almonds are delicious and nutritious and make a great snack food. Almonds are loaded with a variety of wholesome nutrients including protein, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and copper. Almonds also contain Monounsaturated fats (MUFAS), which are the good fats that help your body function optimally. Additionally, almonds contain a significant amount of fiber, which helps trigger satiety and makes you feel full and satisfied. Strive for eating a handful or two of almonds, if you want to include more good fats in your diet. You can also add almonds to salads, smoothies, yogurt, stir-fries, bread or muffins to receive their beneficial properties.
  4. Coconut Oil—
    coconut oil
    Coconut oil not only tastes good, but is good for you. Coconut oil also contains monounsaturated fats (MUFAS), which are good fats that can help contribute to heart health. They also help protect your body from a variety of chronic and debilitating diseases. Coconut oil has other beneficial properties, as well. Coconut oil can help speed your metabolism, help fight and reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. It addition, coconut oil helps prevent wrinkles by plumping up your skin and aides in the digestion process. Make sure you add this super food to your smoothies, coffee, tea, yogurt and muffins to reap its many benefits.
  5. Maca Root—
    maca root
    Maca is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. While it has gained recent popularity, it has been around for thousands of years and is known for its medicinal properties. Maca is a nutrient dense root that is grown in the mountain regions of South America. It is typically harvested and ground down to a powder form, making it easy to use.
    Maca is extremely nutritious and is great source of vitamins and minerals. Some nutrients included in maca are calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium and iron.  A variety of amino acids and fatty acids can found in this root, as well.  Maca is a good source of protein, fat and fiber, which helps your body to sustain energy  and feel full. Maca root has many benefits and is known for its ability to balance hormones. It is also useful in treating PMS, menopausal symptoms, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and fertility issues. Maca helps with memory issues too, plus it helps increase energy and mood. Make sure you give this super food a try to reap its many benefits.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:

¹”10 Antioxidant Super Foods.” Web MD, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.

²https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php

³Gunnars, Kris. “Spinach 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 3 Oct. 2015, www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/spinach#section1.

4 Axe, Dr. Josh. “Top 5 Maca Root Benefits and Nutrition (No. 4 Is Best).” Dr. Axe, 21 July 2017, draxe.com/top-5-maca-root-benefits-and-nutrition/.

Warm Quinoa, Spinach, Tomato And Feta Salad…

In this blog, I wanted to share my recipe for some warm quinoa, spinach, tomato and feta salad. It is easy to make and a favorite of mine. This recipe includes some healthy vegetables and spices, which promote vitality and contain some anti-inflammatory properties. It also includes avocados, which have feel good-fats your body needs to move and function properly. In addition, it includes the ancient grain, quinoa, which is considered a super-food. Quinoa not only has a number of healthful vitamins, but includes a healthy dose of fiber and is rich in protein, which helps sustain energy. If you are looking to plan a meal, you might want to give this recipe a try. It is easy to prepare, wholesome and delicious.

Warm Quinoa, Spinach, Tomato & Feta Salad

Warm quinoa spinach tomato and feta salad

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 or 2  large handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 handful feta cheese crumbles (1/8 cup feta cheese, approximately)
  • 1/2 avocado cut in to pieces
  • cajun seasoning
  • tumeric
  • soy sauce or coconut aminos

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil.

olive oil

Add the spinach, onion, and garlic. Stir on medium heat, until the onion begins to brown and the spinach is slightly wilted. Sprinkle the top with the turmeric and Cajun seasoning. Stir in the quinoa with the warm with the vegetables. Add the tomatoes and stir, until they are just warm. Spoon the salad on a plate. Add the feta cheese and avocado pieces on the top of the salad. Sprinkle with a little coconut aminos or soy sauce, if desired and serve warm.

Note: You may also add black beans, chick peas, or another vegetable to the mix to make it your own.

Enjoy!

Barb

P.S. You can find this recipe, as well as other healthy recipes in my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, which is available on Amazon.

Iron Deficiency—Know Its Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

This article written for and published in Consumer Health Digest (10/07/17)

Iron Deficiency

Editor’s Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
Did you know that iron deficiency anemia affects more people than any other condition?[1] For some of you that may be surprising, given the fact that many people aren’t aware of the health concern and what it involves.

I was one of these people, until I was diagnosed with it myself a few years ago. The symptoms can be mild to severe and they usually develop over a period of time.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have an iron deficiency and may attribute their troubles to something else (such as stress, a hormonal imbalance, another malady or just daily living).

With an estimated 1.6 billion people globally suffering from iron deficiency anemia, it is important to be aware of the problem, the cause, the symptoms and treatment.[2]

What Is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where your blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. It typically is caused by an insufficient amount of iron in the body. This can result from numerous causes including lack of iron in your diet, iron absorption issues, or blood loss in the body from an ulcer, polyp, cancer or some other illness.

It can also be caused by heavy periods in women, especially during perimenopause. Without enough iron, the body can’t produce* hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body and a multitude of symptoms can occur.[3]

Iron stores in the body, measured by your ferritin level (a protein in your blood) can also become depleted; leaving you feeling tired all of the time and operating at a low energy level. In addition, it may cause problems that affect your thinking and could affect your personality.

Common Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency Anemia Include:

Fatigue, Disorientation, Memory issues, Moodiness, Irritability, Depression, Hair loss, Anxiety, Sleepiness And More

Iron Deficiency Anemia Info

How Is Iron Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed?

If you are concerned about iron deficiency anemia, schedule a visit with your doctor. Your physician should ask you various questions about your health and symptoms. Most likely they will run a blood test to see if your hemoglobin level is low.

Keep in mind that hemoglobin levels vary for men, women and children and there is a set normal range for each. If your hemoglobin levels are normal however, but your symptoms still match those of iron deficiency, make sure your doctor also tests your ferritin levels, which shows the iron stores in your body.

It is possible to have a normal hemoglobin level and still be iron deficient. This was the case for me. Having an iron-binding test is also a good idea to observe the iron saturation level in your blood.

How Is Iron Deficiency Anemia Treated?

If your doctor determines you have an iron deficiency, don’t worry, it is treatable. Your doctor will feasibly prescribe taking iron supplements, which will help build your iron levels back up. They may recommend a certain dosage and particular brand, depending on your situation.

Most iron supplements contain around 25 mg of iron and should be taken with food and some sort of a vitamin C supplement (to help avoid stomach upset and aid* in absorption).

I found a vegetable-based iron supplement worked best for me, after trying several brands. Some iron supplements cause bloating, nausea or dark stools. Play around to find one that works best for you.

Additionally, your doctor will very likely suggest eating an iron-rich diet. This is important, as it takes time to bring your iron levels back to a normal range. Remember your iron level typically doesn’t get depleted overnight, so eating a healthy diet, including plenty of whole foods, will help boost* your body’s ability to build iron and function properly.

Your body needs a variety of nutrients to produce* skin, muscle, hair, fingernails, bone and more. Moreover, it needs nutrients for your blood to carry oxygen to all parts of the body and to carry out hosts of other bodily functions.
Most nutrients you need come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and meat. Processed foods may contain some nutrients your body needs, but definitely not the same amount or the quality you get when you eat whole foods.

If you do choose to eat some processed foods, make sure you look for products fortified with iron, such as breads and cereal. Make sure you also read the packaging labels to determine the amount of iron contained in the product, as well as the other ingredients.

It is always best to avoid packaged items with a long list of ingredients, those with hard to pronounce names, additives and ones with sugar at the top of the list.

What Foods Will Help Build Iron?

There many foods available that contain iron to boost* your energy. Although not everyone eats meat, it is a good choice if you are iron deficient. Meat contains heme iron, which is found in animals and typically attached to proteins, called heme proteins.

Heme is the best source of iron for people who are iron deficient. Non-heme iron food choices are beneficial too. They can be found in vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, some processed foods and iron supplements.[4]

Good Sources Of Heme Iron:

Beef, Chicken, Oysters, Turkey, Ham, Veal, Tuna, Liver, Salmon, Egg, Shrimp, Chicken Liver, Lamb and Pork Loin

Good Sources Of Non-Heme Iron:

  • Cereal
  • Beans – Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Noodles – Rice
  • Apricots
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.)
  • Molasses
  • Broccoli[5]

Alternative Treatments To Try For Iron Deficiency Anemia

Acupuncture and Herbs

Besides taking iron supplements and eating an iron-rich diet, there are a number of other things you can try to build your iron including: acupuncture, herbs and essential oils.

Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat* anemia and symptoms of tiredness, weakness and more.[6] Often times, it is used in conjunction with herbs to build and nourish the blood.

There are also a number of essential oils that can be beneficial to those suffering with iron deficiency. Lemon oil in particular helps stimulate the production of red and white blood cells.

I used to add a drop of lemon oil to my morning glass of water to help get my energy going for the day.

Other citrus oils such as grapefruit and orange can help promote iron absorption and alleviate* fatigue, as well. Make sure you choose a therapeutic grade and read up on application methods.

References

1 Wpadmin. “22 Shocking Iron Deficiency Anemia Statistics.” HRFnd. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
2 Wpadmin. “22 Shocking Iron Deficiency Anemia Statistics.” HRFnd. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
3 Mayo Clinic Staff Print. “Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Overview – Iron Deficiency Anemia – Mayo Clinic. N.p., 11 Nov. 2016. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
4 “Iron We Consume.” Idi. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2016. http://www.irondisorders.org/iron-weconsume/
5 “Top Iron-Rich Foods List.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
http://www.webmd.com/diet/iron-rich-foods#1
https://www.theacupunctureclinic.co.nz/acuncture-for-anemia/

Image Credits
Feature Image: Shutterstock.com
In-Post Image: www.medindia.net & Shutterstock.com

Fibrous Fruit—Spotlight On The Health Benefits Of The Pear

In this blog, I wanted to spotlight the health benefits of the pear.

Pear

Pears are a popular choice for many consumers, especially in the fall when they are abundant. Like the banana and apple, pears are convenient to eat and are quite tasty. They are sweet and have a soft, appealing texture. Pears are loaded with many nutrients that help your body function optimally too.

Some nutrients in pears include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • And more

Pears grow on trees that produce a high energy, nutrient dense fruit. While pears do contain some natural sugar, they are one of the lowest calorie fruits available. Pears contain right around 100 calories, making them a popular choice for many people, especially those looking to lose weight. Pears contain a healthy amount of fiber, which is beneficial for the digestion process. The high fiber content, which helps make you feel full, coupled with an assortment of vitamins and minerals, makes the pear a perfect food choice and delicious snack.

pear tree

There are other health benefits of the pear too. Pears are an anti-inflammatory food and can help boost your immune system, which is great, especially for those suffering from arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Pears also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and are beneficial in the prevention of a number of different forms of cancers. In addition, pears help improve blood circulation and may help build your red blood cell count, making them a good choice for many, especially those dealing with iron deficiency anemia.

Pears come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. In fact, there are approximately 3000 different species of pears available world-wide.  Wow—that’s quite an assortment. Some varieties look similar to the apple, where others have more of an elongated look and still others have several color tones, making them unique.

pear varieties

Pears can eaten for breakfast, enjoyed as a snack, or mixed in your favorite smoothie or bowl with other healthy ingredients. There are many possibilities.  Some people enjoy baking with pears too. Pears make a tasty pie, cobbler, crisp, muffins and more.

Make sure you reach for this nutrient dense fruit, while it is in season to enjoy its many health benefits.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/pears.html

Jolly, Rajan Singh. “The Nutritional And Health Benefits Of Pears.” HubPages, HubPages, 3 Jan. 2016, hubpages.com/health/The-Nutritional-And-Health-Benefits-Of-Pears.

Balance Your Life With Routines And Rituals…

With the obesity epidemic on the rise, many people are concerned about their health and are eager to eat right and exercise more. Unfortunately, for many of us this is easier said than done. People today lead busy lives. Many people are running from work to a child’s sporting event, or this meeting or that meeting and don’t feel they have time to breathe, let alone follow a normal routine or hit the gym. Yet, a routine can be just what you need. Many people break their regular routines when they are busy, thinking they will get more done and feel better about themselves. This thinking however, often backfires and may leave you feeling and out of sorts. In reality, you can feel more alive when you balance your life with routines and rituals.

exercise

Routines and rituals keep us grounded and help us perform better. Routines are habits that give structure to our daily lives—brushing your teeth, a morning cup of coffee, organizing your calendar, a daily walk, visiting the gym, or eating dinner at the same time. Routines help keep us organized and on track, although they do require discipline and will power. Rituals, on the other hand, are a little different. They are more celebratory in nature and include, going to church, praying, meditating, attending a wedding, or celebrating a birthday. “Rituals connects us to community and to society in general. Routine reinforces our sense of control over our every-day lives.”¹ The bottom line is we need them both to feel balanced. When one or another is missing, we can feel off and feel like something is wrong.

meditating

For years, I’ve had a morning routine that included a walk outside. Well for some reason the other winter, I became little lax with my walking. Walking is  part of who I am, so when I miss going a few days in a row, I really feel off. Walking is uplifting to me and gives me energy for the day. I find the sounds of nature soothing too, so it is no wonder I wasn’t like myself. Funny how simple routines can keep us in balance.

walking in nature

In my book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, I talk a little about self-care and how important it is in our lives. Routines and rituals are a from of self-care, and are something we all need. They can help re-energize your body, provide activities for enjoyment and feed your spirit.

Hal Elrod, in his great book, The Miracle Morning, gives us a set of daily practices that he calls S.A.V.E.R.S. When done daily, he claims they will change your life. Give these routines and rituals a try to help balance your life and feel more alive.

Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning Life S.A.V.E.R.S:

S= Silence: Take at least 10 minutes to be silent. You can just sit still, pray, or meditate. This time is important and gives you some time to just be.

A= Affirmations: Use positive phrases to affirm your goals and aspirations. (e.g. I am positive, I am a hard worker, I am a caring person, I am loving, etc.)

V= Visualization: See yourself as having already achieved a goal. Picture yourself already having accomplished a task. You can use a vision board with drawings, or pictures of certain items, or can just envision them in your mind.

E= Exercise: Set aside a minimum of 10 minutes each morning to do some sort of exercise, whether it is walking, yoga, biking, stretching, etc.

R= Reading: Set aside at least 10 minutes each morning to do some sort of reading, preferably read some thing that is inspirational. This helps set the tone for the day and establishes a positive mind-set.

S= Scribing: (Journaling) Set aside at least 10 minutes to record some positive thoughts that came to you from reading, meditating, praying, etc. This allows you to record your thoughts and generate ideas, etc.4

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Reference:

¹ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rhoda-p-curtis/routine-and-ritual-two-pi_b_1113845.html

² Elrod, Hal. The Miracle Morning. ©Hal Elrod International.2014. pg. 53-81

Easy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

In this blog, I wanted to share a recipe for some Easy Chocolate Zucchini Bread that I made over the weekend. I had a few zucchini’s in my refrigerator that a friend gave me from her garden I needed to use. I decided to make a recipe from another friend who made me some Chocolate Zucchini Bread last year for my birthday. I like traditional zucchini bread, but I am a chocolate lover and I have to admit, this chocolate version is delicious. I did substitute honey for some of the sugar the original recipe called for, as well as put in some other substitutions you can use.

This recipe is easy to make and contains some healthful ingredients including fiber, vitamin C and magnesium from the zucchini, plus some good fat from the chocolate, (especially if you use a high cacao version of the chocolate chips). Give it a try if you are craving some chocolate or having a seasonal craving for zucchini.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

chocolate zucchini bread
chocolate zucchini bread

2-1 oz. squares chocolate
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
(You can also use coconut palm sugar for a lower glycemic load.)
1/2 cup honey
(You can substitute 1 cup of honey and omit the sugar.)
1 cup oil
(I used olive oil)
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
(You can substitute rice flour, if you are looking for a gluten free option.)
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
(I used one with a higher cacao content)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two loaf pans. Using a double-boiler, or similar, melt the chocolate squares. Stir until smooth and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, honey, oil, zucchini, vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Add the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold in the flour. Add the chocolate chips. Pour the batter in the two loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 60 minutes, or until a toothpick in center come out clean.

Enjoy!

Barb

P.S. If you are looking for more good recipes to try and ways to live a healthy life-style, you might want to check out my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living. You can grab a FREE chapter here to preview.

5 Ways To Boost Your Smoothie!

Smoothies have become a popular choice for breakfast these days and why not?Many people are concerned about their well-being and are looking for ways to eat healthier. Smoothies provide a quick, easy way to include a variety of healthy, whole food ingredients in your diet. They also can be fun to make, as there are many options and combinations you can try. While many people use protein powder and fruit, there other selections you can add to your smoothie mix to add more vitamins and boost your nutrient intake to make it better for you. In this blog, I wanted to share 5 ways to boost your smoothie. Let’s take a look…

Learn 5 Ways To Boost Your Smoothie:

Boost Your Smoothie

  1. Greens—Many people naturally add a banana or another type of fruit to their smoothie, but adding vegetables, especially greens, is a great way to boost your nutrient intake. Try adding a handful of spinach, or kale to your smoothie for some added vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, iron and more. When I was dealing with iron deficiency anemia, smoothies became a staple in my diet. Many protein powders contain a healthy dose of iron and when you add greens and other vegetables, it boosts the iron content even more. In my book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, I talk a little about the importance of eating vegetables at every meal and how adding more greens to my breakfast smoothie helped improve my energy level. As an added bonus, I became less prone to getting sick. Make sure you experiment with adding more greens to you diet to experience a boost in your nutrient intake and health too.
    spinach greens
  2. Super Foods—Why not start your day with an added boost of energy? Super foods are foods that are considered nutrient dense and extremely beneficial to the body. Try adding super foods such as coconut oil, maca powder, cacao nibs, or chia seeds to your morning smoothie to help improve your well-being.  Super foods can help make you feel super good and super energized and who doesn’t like an extra kick-start to get the day going? Try adding one or 2 to super foods to your smoothie to see how they make you feel. As you go along, you can try more or mix them up and see how your energy improves.
    coconuts
  3. Protein—Over the last several years protein powders have become extremely popular and many people like to add them to their smoothies. There are many options when it comes to protein powder including, whey, vegan and bone broth varieties.  Make sure you choose one that works best for you and look for a good, quality brand, (one without a lot of additives and sweeteners).  If you are not a protein powder fan, try adding peanut butter, another nut butter, nuts or seeds to your smoothie to get your morning dose of protein. Play around and see what you like best.
    peanut butter
  4. Healthy Fats—Avocados are another nutritious item you can add to your smoothie. Avocados contain healthy fat and fiber your body needs and craves. Try adding a half of avocado to your mix to not only get some good fat, but some extra vitamin C, E, potassium and more. You can also add cashew butter, peanut butter, almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds.
    avocados
  5. Spices—You can also add a variety of spices to your smoothie to enhance the nutrient content and flavor. Try adding cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, nutmeg or ginger to your smoothie. Many spices contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help promote good health. Some of them also contain warming properties, which are especially beneficial during the winter months.Try adding some fresh ginger to help fight a cold, the flu, or aid in digestion.
    ginger

Thanks for reading and happy smoothie making!

Barb

P.S. If you are looking for more ways to improve your health and live a healthy life-style, you might want to check out my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living. You can grab a FREE chapter here to preview.

Recipe: Easy Sausage Spinach Vegetable Lasagna

In this blog, I wanted to share a recipe for some easy sausage spinach vegetable lasagna that I made over the weekend. This recipe is a favorite of my family and I make it quite a bit, especially in the fall and winter months, when your body craves more comfort foods. It combines a healthy dose of vegetables including spinach, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions and olives that not only are good for you, but provide a host of vitamins and nutrients your body needs. I also put in some options if you have a gluten sensitivity, or prefer a vegetarian version. Give it a try if you are looking for a new recipe to try for dinner.

Easy Sausage Spinach Vegetable Lasagna

spinach lasagna

  • 1 small box lasagna noodles (1/2 lb or approximately 9 noodles).
    You can use a gluten-free variety if you have issues with gluten.
  • 1 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
    I used a local brand called Anna Lisa Spicy Pasta Sauce I got at Whole Foods that had no sugar or preservatives added. I really like this brand, but you can use any variety you like.
  • 1 container cottage cheese
    You can also use ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
    I usually shred my own to avoid the added cellulose in cheese and other pre-packaged foods used to prevent caking. It is derived from wood pulp. Yes-wood pulp.
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
    You can also leave this out if you prefer to make a meatless version of lasagna
  • 1/2 bag of fresh spinach
    You can also you kale
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 small green pepper chopped
  • 1 small package fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1/2 jar green olives
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 medium size tomatoes diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cajun seasoning

Fill a large pot with boiling water and add the lasagna noodles. Turn down heat a bit and boil the noodles for 10 minutes and then strain off the water and set aside.

In a large skillet, brown the Italian sausage. Add the garlic, onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Stir the mixture until the vegetables are slightly browned. Add in the olives and the salt, pepper and cajun seasoning to taste and stir. Add the spaghetti sauce to the meat and vegetable mix and stir to combine all of the ingredients. Add the tomatoes to the top and stir, just so they become warn and then remove from the heat.

Grease a 13″ x 9″ cake pan with olive oil. Place 3 noodles on the bottom of the pan. Then spoon about 1/3 of the meat and vegetable sauce over the noodles. Grab a handful or so of the spinach and place it on top of the sauce. Next scoop about 1/3 of the cottage cheese on top of the spinach and then add a layer of the mozzarella or cheddar cheese.

lasagna layers

Repeat these steps 2 more times to create 3 layers total.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the prepared pan of lasagna in the oven and bake for 30-40, or until slightly crisp on the top. Remove from the oven and let set and cool for another 30-45 minutes. Serve warm with a fresh garden salad.

Enjoy!

Barb

P.S. If you are looking for more good recipes to try and ways to live a healthy life-style, you might want to check out my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living. You can grab a FREE chapter here to preview.

A Change Will Do You Good!

With the fall season upon us, it is hard not to think about change—A change in the weather, a change in the colors, a change in your schedule and more. In fact, I noticed a bunch more leaves changing on the trees this morning, as I was out walking. They sure are pretty. I don’t know about you, but I really do love the fall. Sure it’s always hard to say good bye to summer, but fall has a unique appeal—the crisp, cool morning air, a beautiful array of vibrant colors, warm afternoons and the plentiful fall harvest. I know not everyone may agree. Many people do not like change and often try and fight it. Change however is something that is a constant and expected, so why not adopt the attitude of a change will do you good instead?

change is good
change is good

Seasons will come and go and each one brings their own beauty, expectations and gifts of opportunity. Why not take advantage of the new season and commit to some changes of your own? If you are interested in making some changes to your health that involve better eating and more exercise, fall is great time to get going and change up your routine and develop some rituals.

fall tree leaves
fall tree leaves

With the days getting shorter, why not commit to joining a gym to get a little exercise in instead of sitting front of the TV and dwelling on the early, dark evenings. You can also buy some sessions at a yoga studio, get a group of friends together for basketball at your local community center or join a fall bowling league. There are many choices. The point is to find some activity you enjoy and commit to it. In my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, I talk a little bit about the importance of finding appetizing activities you enjoy. Taking care of your body includes not only eating the right foods, but also activity and exercise. Your body was meant to move and not be sedentary, so make sure you get in plenty of activity in your day.

yoga
yoga

Fall is also a great time to experiment with some new foods. Many people are inside more and may have some extra time on their hands. Why not pull out one of your cookbooks and dust it off? You can also look for some healthy recipes on the internet or look on Pinterest. They have thousands of recipes to choose from. Maybe you can find a recipe that includes some seasonal vegetable, such as zucchini, from the fall harvest or some other vegetable you like. You can also look for a new recipe to try for a fall get together with friends or look for something new to try for dinner one evening with the family. There are many options and you might just discover a whole new way of eating that you enjoy. Yes indeed change can be good!

Thanks for reading!

Barb

P.S. If you want to preview my book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, you can grab a FREE Chapter here.