What the Health

Food

As summer is in full swing I have finally had some time to sit down and enjoy some much needed Netflix time. I have always found documentaries extremely interesting and one in particular stayed with me a little longer than usual. If you’re an avid Netflix watcher i’m sure you’ve seen What the Health on the trending list. Interestingly enough it was not what I expected. I anticipated a typical healthy lifestyle promoting film, maybe some new information on organic eating, or something similar to Food Inc (I highly recommend watching  if you have not already). To my surprise it was solely focused on promoting a vegetarian lifestyle. I have been involved in the health community and researched healthy living, eating and exercising for years, and have always been an avid promoter of a meat inclusive diet. But for some reason this documentary sparked an

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unease in my confidence. While I have always known that organic, grass fed, hormone/ antibiotic free meat is the best I did not realize the extent to which processed and essentially “dirty” meat is harmful to our health.

*Disclaimer- I am NOT  promoting this documentary and do not plan on adopting a

vegetarian style of eating for myself, I still consume meat on a regular basis, I am just emphasizing the importance of consuming the proper types of meat.

After watching this documentary I was scared and led to believe that all meat causes cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but after doing some research I was again put to ease that it is not inhumane to consume meat, it is instead inhumane to consume corporate-raised antibiotic fed meat.

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Where our meat comes from is crucial to our health and a major debate in and of itself (I will not get into it too much but if you have the time I suggest doing some research). Today meat producing companies claim that the only way to feed our growing society is to produce meat unnaturally, and in a harmful manner. Chicken and cows are raised in confined conditions, unable to ever walk, and forced to consume their own feces (in addition to the antibiotics and growth hormones they are fed). They are not living and thriving animals, they are a commodity produced to serve a purpose. These unlawful living conditions not only affect the animals themselves but us as consumers. When we consume even a bite of meat we are eating everything that animal has ever put into their mouth. It goes back to the old saying, “what you eat is what you are.” Those animals are everything that they eat, the chemicals and antibiotics all go into their bodies and morphs them into one gigantic hazard. On the contrary, when animals are raised naturally, on big and open farms, fed grass and plants, (the way they are supposed to) they grow to become healthy and strong. We as consumers then have the assurance that what we are putting into our bodies is natural, and of value to our health.

The documentary What the Health fails to address the importance of healthy meat. They are promoting  a blanket statement that all meat is bad, and all meat causes disease. This is wrong. While a vegetarian diet may be beneficial for some due to health reasons it is not the way we were made to eat. Humans were made to consume meat, it is the circle of life and the most natural way to eat. It is where the meat is sourced that is the problem.

Health is a growing and ever changing subject. It is a science and will forever be developing and modified. The biggest take away from this is to not believe everything you hear. Do some research, try it out for yourself. Diets and healthy lifestyles are subjective and every body is different. While a vegetarian lifestyle may work best for some people, it is not the be all end all, and it is most definitely not the way we were intended to live. The best advice I can give when it comes to eating is to consume whole foods. Eat natural, farm raised and organically produced foods. Stay away from anything processed, including meat, and live as naturally as possible. The world was not made to be full of chemicals and artificially produced commodities.

A good way to stay away from processed and disease causing foods is to try to cook at home more, avoid restaurants and places where you are uninformed about what you are eating, because it is more than likely to be unhealthy. Even when a food is labeled “healthy” and “natural” it may contain pesticides, antibiotics and or hormones. When you prepare your own food you have the luxury of knowing where it is sourced and everything that goes into it. For me personally I avoid eating meat when I go out, and when I cook I only purchase grass fed and hormone free meat. It is possible to feed a world naturally and we as consumers are responsible to make the first steps.

Monday is for Matcha

Food, Stress

While I do have quite the obsession with tea I have to admit, sometimes it doesn’t cut it when it comes to early mornings and studying. It was not until this past semester that I gave in to the allure of coffee and unfortunately since then it has become a part of my morning routine. Coffee can be a fantastic tool to get moving  but for some of us it has unwanted side effects. I personally struggle with anxiety and even one cup will keep me on my toes for the rest of the day. It’s good in the sense that it gives me that extra boost and helps me to focus early in the morning but there’s just something about that burst of caffeine that sends my anxiety levels through the roof. I’ve been searching for something that will give me the energy boost from coffee along with the calming effects of tea.

My solution-MATCHA.

Matcha is finely ground green tea. Instead of submerging a tea bag into water you are actually drinking the tea leaves themselves. It appears as a light green powder and can be consumed with just about anything. I have been drinking mine as tea and in smoothies but i’m sure it would taste great in a host of different drinks and even food! This green tea is specifically native to Japan and has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years. Monks are notorious for consuming the leaves to assist in meditation practices. It gives them just the right amount of concentration and relaxation.

After quite a bit of research I have found that matcha has a multitude of health benefits that exceed those of green tea. (It is to my understanding that this is because you are consuming the leaves directly). One cup is equivalent to 10 glasses of regular green tea in terms of nutrition and antioxidants. It is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins (particularly vitamin C) and has been proven to naturally detoxify the body and enhance metabolism. In addition, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for relaxing the mind. The combination of L-theanine and a high caffeine content results in a sustained calm alertness. You basically get the active and alertness that comes from coffee but without the unwanted jitters. For anyone suffering from anxiety or unable to handle the intense effects of caffeine matcha is a great option. It has a compelling, almost creamy taste followed by a bit of a lingering sweetness. Matcha on it’s own can be strong and overpowering but when mixed with smoothies, milk, pastries etc. it has a more subtle flavor.

Matcha has made a world of a difference for me and I am excited to make it a part of my routine. For some people coffee is a must but there’s no hurt in trying something new, especially when it has a few extra health benefits!!

 

Tip-only purchase organically grown matcha from Japan. Other sources may be contaminated with pesticides and various chemicals. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, I found it to be the best price for the amount.

 

 

Simple Eating

Food

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As Americans we have this warped conception that everything needs to happen as quickly and  conveniently as possible, especially when it comes to food. In the world of healthy eating we have been programmed to believe convenience and easy access is simply not possible.

I’m here to tell you that is false.

Yes, I will admit that in order to reap the benefits of a healthy meal normally it takes a little extra time. Fortunately this does not always have to be the case. I am the QUEEN of rushing and moving onto my next task as quickly and efficiently as possible (exhibit A-I made this salad and am writing this post between work shifts) and in doing this I have found loop holes in the healthy eating time trap.

My go to meal is a salad. I’m talking a big, nutrition packed, stomach filling salad. I have mastered the art of salad making and have the practice down to a tee in terms of time. I do not believe in recipes when making this nutrition packed dish, all it really takes is throwing some of your favorite ingredients on a bed of lettuce and voila! You have yourself a meal. Salads can be made any “theme” if you will. You could be  in the mood for something light and fruity, or maybe something savory with a little spice for that extra kick. The beautiful thing about salads is they are completely your own.

Start with your base-mixed greens, spinach, romaine, and or kale and then decide the flavors you want to go for. Are you feeling sweet or savory? Maybe Mexican or Asian? Once you have an idea in mind you can begin to put together your ingredients. Choose three to five vegetables and then add a few of what I call “extras.” Possibly chopped almonds or walnuts, maybe coconut flakes or some fruit. Finally decide on a form of protein. If you’re  a vegetarian add beans, tofu or even hummus for some extra flavor. If you’re in the mood for meat add some grilled chicken or salmon. Eggs are always a great option as well. Make your salad as big or as small as you like, just ensure you are including healthy ingredients.

Here are a few steps to guide you through the process:

Step 1-CHOOSE YOUR BASE

Romaine

Spinach

Kale

Arugula

Collard

*stay away from ice burg lettuce (the white stuff) it has little to no nutritional value

Step 2-FRUITS/VEGETABLES

Cucumber, Tomato, Onions, Beets, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Celery, Corn, Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Peppers, Edamame, Mushrooms

Apples, Oranges, Cranberries, Raisins, Mango, Peaches, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Watermelon, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Grapes, Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries

Step 3-EXTRAS

Coconut Flakes

Almonds

Walnuts

Chia Seeds

Jalapeños

Salsa

Pesto

Guacamole

Hummus

*try not to add croutons, if you’re looking for something crunchy go for nuts if they are in your diet

Step 4- PROTEIN

Vegetarian-Black Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Tofu, Edamame, Fennel

Meat-grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, shrimp, eggs, turkey, ham, beef

DRESSING

When choosing a dressing the first thing you should look at is the sugar content. A lot of store bought dressings tend to claim they are “healthy” yet they fill them with unnecessary sugar. Look for something lighter such as a vinaigrette. There are a lot of different flavored vinaigrettes  if the typical oil and vinegar does not appeal to you. I have recently been using olive oil and a blueberry based balsamic vinegar. I also use lemon or lime juice as well as Apple Cider Vinegar.

 

Salads are perfect for lunch or dinner when you don’t have enough time to prepare a full blown meal, and they can even suffice as a mid day snack you can pack for work or grab at home. Experiment with different types and flavors and allow yourself to enjoy cultivating new and exciting mixtures.

The best advice I can give is to make your salad your own. Keep some fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge, and ALWAYS make sure you have greens.

INGREDIENTS

-Organic Girl 50/50 Spring Mix

-halved cherry tomatoes

-diced onion

-blackberries

-chopped cucumber

-raw cauliflower

DRESSING

-balsamic glaze

-olive oil

OPTIONAL PROTEIN

-Hummus

-Grilled Chicken

-Hard Boiled Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

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Lunch of the Day

Food

Black Bean Avocado Wrap

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Ingredients 

Whole Wheat Wrap

Cooked Broccoli

White Onions

Tomatoes

Black Beans

Avocado

*Hummus for dipping

Preparation

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Bring stovetop to medium heat, add avocado oil or butter and lightly warm wrap.

 

Add all ingredients except beans and avocado.

Once brought to desired heat add beans followed by the avocado.

Remove from stove and enjoy!

Tip-dip in hummus for extra flavor

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Face Your Fears

Stress

As Halloween quickly approaches we find ourselves surrounded by eerie stories, haunted houses, and some seriously menacing decorations. There is one purpose, one common thread branding this anticipated eve, and that is fear.

Fear.

It’s that feeling you you get when you turn off the lights and run upstairs, the pounding in your chest when you wake up from a horrific nightmare, the racing thoughts in your mind when you get that phone call.

It is all around us yet we are constantly trying to mask it and shove it in a corner to be dealt with at a later time. For some of us it is more than a mini heart attack, or a wave of goosebumps. It engulfs our lives prohibiting us from existing to our full potential. It leads us to second guess every decision, every occurrence, fostering insecurity and a lack of motivation. We find ourselves out of touch with the now and lost in a repetitive cycle of worry. For others it’s the little fears that sneak up and hinder our success. A lot of us fear rejection, failure, and embarrassment. We fear that we are not good enough, that no matter the effort we will never live up to our expectations or reach our goals. Why do we as human beings allow these feelings to manifest in our lives? Is it simply human nature or is it the result of an ill mannered society?

It could be a little bit of both.

There are two types of fears: innate and learned. Innate fears encompass those of which we are born with. These include the fear of falling, and the fear of loud noises. Yes, these are the only two, which means every other fear is acquired from our experiences. As children we are extremely susceptible to new knowledge and behaviors. We have nothing in the way of experience in the world and that means that every occurrence has some sort of impact on our mind. Parents play a major role in this development. Seemingly insignificant events such as scolding, negative talk, and threats instill the first traces of fear in young children. Now this is not to say that parents who reprimand their children are poor parents. It is natural to lead children down the right path and astray from improper behaviors, but it is important to be aware of the emotional future they are being set up for. Moving on from childhood and into adulthood fears continue to manifest through negative experiences. When we encounter events that stimulate troublesome emotions, our mind holds onto that feeling and associates it with the specific event. This way when we are reminded of the event or faced with a similar situation the same feeling of pain is triggered, leading us into fear. Fear then becomes a survival mechanism. The fight or flight response is activated and we search for a way to avoid the discomfort we anticipate. These feelings are natural, and play out in the lives of all human beings, the true test is wether or not we are able to conquer them.

Overcoming fear is a huge and daunting task, seemingly impossible for many. Fortunately, there is a way around it. When we encounter fear we often tell ourselves to simply get over it and move on. We reassure ourselves that we are not afraid, and believe that somehow if we continue the fear will magically disappear. Hate to break it to you but it doesn’t work that way. Conquering fear is similar to learning to walk, or ride a bike. It can not be done in one simple step, it requires a series of learned strategies and tactics in order to achieve the goal.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to move toward letting go of fear:

  • Become Aware-the first step in restraining fear is to full heartedly accept it. Bring yourself to terms with the fact that you are afraid and consciously recognize what it is that you are afraid of. Remind yourself that you are not your fears.
  • Find the Roots-one of the most important aspects is looking into what causes you to manifest these fearful feelings. What are you thinking when you find yourself feeling scared? Which thoughts trigger the fear? Once we are able to locate the source of fear we can then look into ways of addressing it.
  • Work With Your Imagination-our subconscious mind is unable to see the difference between imagination and reality. Buddha once said “what we think we become.” Picture yourself repeatedly overcoming your fear. Use all of your power to make the experience feel as real as possible. Eventually, this will flow over into your subconscious mind.
  • The Power of the Present-focus your thoughts on the present moment, do not dwell on the future or past. Center yourself. Take a deep breath and immerse your mind in the moment at hand.
  • Put it in Perspective-Avoid looking at your fears through tunnel vision. We often focus too much on the negative and fail to think of all the possibilities for success.
  •  Focus on the Positive-Everyone has had failures. It is human nature. Instead of dwelling on failed moments think about your success. Recognize your ability to be successful and cultivate a sense of confidence.
  • Prayer and Spirituality-seek refuge and comfort in your religion. Consider your belief system and address your fears in a spiritual way.
  • Take Action-Take a step in the positive direction. Do something productive and worth your while, avoid sitting around and letting negativity engulf your life. Think of everything you have to be grateful for, read a book, watch an insightful documentary, release your mind of tension.
  • Plan-this one can be a little difficult. Some of us are planners, we plan every minute of our lives down to the second. Others go with the flow and avoid preparation at all costs. If that’s you, ignore this one as it will do you no good. For all the planners out there, use it to your advantage to precisely work through your fears. Plan out the steps you are going to take to address your insecurities. Make a list and check each item off as you complete it.
  • Just Breathe-The breath is a powerful tool. It is the key to freedom and relaxation of the mind. When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed bring yourself back to the basics of the breath. Focus on each individual inhale and exhale, and allow your mind to find peace.

Surmounting fear takes time. Do not rush into conquering your biggest fears in a short span. It is about learning to cope with fear that will lead you to relief. Listen to yourself, focus on methods that work for you, and take action necessary to move forward in your journey.

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