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The 7 Surprising Habits of Healthy People

You probably clicked on this article wondering what 7 things could possibly keep you healthy. And I don’t blame you – health is a complex balance of physical, mental and emotional states that seems harder and harder to achieve these days. But while this list is by no means exclusive, incorporating these simple but often overlooked 7 habits will certainly push you in the right direction towards a healthier life.

1) Take more naps. Research has found that only 34 percent of working professionals nap on a daily basis, and that a third of these individuals made over $100,000 per year.  Not surprisingly, studies have shown that naps improve cognition, memory, and alertness and reduce stress. Taking a short nap every day can help improve your health as well as make you more productive in the workplace.

2) Clean daily. Researchers in Scotland have found that those who engage in regular housework live longer than sedentary people. This is most likely due to the extra calories burned by performing chores, which is beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart. Research has also shown living in a clean-smelling environment improves your mood and increases our likeliness to donate and volunteer to charitable causes compared to less clean environments.

3) Eat soup from a box. Giving up canned foods can lower the risk of heart disease, brain cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and infertility. A large number of studies investigating the effect of BPA, the chemical that is used to line canned foods as well as hard plastics, have shown its link in the development of such diseases. Opting for foods that are packaged in boxes or glass jars are a healthier and safer alternative to the canned options. Of course, choose the organic or natural options… or better yet, their fresh alternatives.

4) Give your body a break. We all know that exercise plays an important role in health maintenance as well as weight loss. However, pushing your body through long and intense workouts most days of the week can leave your muscles feeling stressed, sore and tired. Incorporating a few relaxation days into your regular exercise regime will therefore allow your body to recover and feel stronger.

5) Enjoy the meals you love. It seems that nowadays, eating can be more stressful than enjoyable when we are constantly analyzing our food choices and counting calories as we strive too hard to eat healthy. The reality is that this mindset may actually be sabotaging our efforts.

Forcing ourselves to eat a salad when we really want pasta can lead to an unsatisfied feeling and result in overeating later. So while it is important to eat healthy foods, it is equally important to listen to your body and not over-analyze our meal choices. Enjoy the meals you love, however instead of dining out try making your favorite foods at home. This will not only satisfy your food cravings, it will also help you control the ingredients you use.

6) Eat with family and friends. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that people who ate with the company of their laptops or smartphones consumed significantly more throughout the day than those who dined without distractions. This may be because overeating and snacking are often used as a way to escape stress and negative emotions, rather than true hunger.

In today’s busy and often chaotic landscape, dinner is one of the few opportunities in the day to spend quality time with friends and family and can create the positive feelings that are usually temporarily fulfilled by snacking. A great incentive to put away your smartphone and share a meal with your loved ones!

7) Rekindle your hobbies. It seems that as we get older, we put aside a decreasing amount of our free time towards activities that we love. Drawing, pottery, crafts, playing a musical instrument, biking… whatever your flavor may be, rediscovering your passions is a great way to de-stress, increase happiness and unleash your creative side.

Making small lifestyle changes such as embracing cleanliness and napping helps to bring your physical and mental health into balance and supports a long, healthy lifestyle. Of course, everything in moderation and don’t forget the other stuff – healthy diet, exercise, healthy relationships, etc., but these tips will have you well on your way.

References:

20 habits skinny people live by. Available at: http://fitbie.msn.com

How I accidentally lost weight by taking naps and eating crepes. Available at: http://www.mindbodygreen.com

No-Dread Detox Strategies

If the term “detoxification” has you conjuring disturbing images of unpalatable concoctions or unsatisfying liquid diets, think again. Nature is literally bursting at the seams with detoxifiers, the problem is that many of us are so attuned to hearing about the latest “detox” craze that we don’t even consider the fact that a healthy diet can do just as much to rid us of our toxic burden. Here are some great options that can be found in our everyday diets. Be prepared to feel healthy, energized and alert just by incorporating some of these potent detoxifiers into your regular diet regime.

Of course, detoxification doesn’t start with our diets. Our bodies are naturally equipped with many detoxification mechanisms which operate on a continual basis to protect us against harmful toxins that can accumulate and cause inflammation and disease. However, in our day-to-day life, we are all exposed to a wide variety of damaging toxins (from our air, water, foods, products we use) that can overwork the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

We can do the best we can to protect ourselves – by doing small things like using non-toxic products and drinking filtered water – but the reality is that we are bombarded with toxins from so many angles that our bodies are in a constant state of battle. This is where detoxifying foods come into the picture. We can boost our toxin defenses with these super detoxifiers and enjoy some great meals in the process.

 Gluthathione is an antioxidant compound in the body that helps to eliminate disease-causing free radicals.  As we age, tissue glutathione levels decrease and so does our ability to control damage caused by reactive oxygen species. Glutathione is also found in various foods such as avocado, watermelon, asparagus and walnuts (sounds like a delicious salad, right?) Interestingly, studies have shown that lower calorie diets (compared with typical North American calorie-laden diets) can increase longevity and contribute to sustained health because it helps to maintain glutathione in the tissues during aging.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory effects and acts as a powerful antioxidant scavenging free radicals and protecting DNA from oxidative damage. Green tea is another natural antioxidant as it contains catechins that are polyphenols that can activate detoxification enzymes in the liver and has been shown to protect against cancer.

Probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which can be found in probiotic yogurt or supplements, can help to replenish intestinal bacteria with beneficial bacterial species, thereby restoring the normal intestinal bacterial balance that is disrupted by toxins passing through the digestive system.

Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli are also potent detoxifiers due to their ability to stimulate antioxidant and detoxification (ie. phase 2) enzymes in the body.  This superfood group of vegetables are high in sulfur (as are onions and garlic… also potent detoxifiers), a mineral that is also associated with detoxifying effects.

This one may come as a surprise, but omega-3s certainly have a place in the realm of natural detoxification. Their anti-inflammatory benefits support immune function, which in turn help the body to eliminate as well as help the body repair damage from toxins.

Toxins trapped in joints causes inflammation, thus clearing out accumulated toxins is an essential strategy in relieving joint aches. The immune-boosting (and resulting detoxifying) effect of omega-3s contributes to their effectiveness in relieving aches and inflammation due to arthritic conditions such as joint aches.

SierraSil®, a patented, proprietary mineral complex, is another powerful natural detoxifier with benefits in relieving joint aches. Its ability to bind accumulated toxins stems from its charged structure, which attracts positively charged toxins into its negatively charged inner layers, allowing for their safe elimination from the body. It can be found at www.sierrasil.com.

It is important to keep in mind that your diet is intricately related to your ability to fend off the damaging effects of toxins. Diets rich in fibre and antioxidans help to eliminate waste and toxins from your system. When combined with a diet free of processed, high salt and high fat- containing foods, plenty of water and regular exercise, these detoxification strategies go a long way to help the body abolish harmful toxins in a healthy and natural manner, all without the struggle of traditional detox regimes.

References:

Ahmad, N., Mukhtar, H. Green tea polyphenols and cancer: biologic mechanism and practical implications. Nutrition Reviews. 1999; 57(3): 78-83.

The Natural way to detox…and why you should. Available at: www.cncahealth.com

Duvoix, A., Blasius, R., Delhalle, S., Schnekenburger, M., Morceau, F., Henry, E., Dicato, M., Diederich, M. Chemopreventive and therapeutic effects of curcumin. Cancer Letters. 2005; 223(2): 181-190.

Higdon, J.V., Delage, B., Williams, D.E., Dashwood, R.H. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. 2007; 55(3):224-236.

Jeffery, E. Detoxification Basics. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Available at: www.alternative-therapies.com

Jeffery, E. Diet and Detoxification Enzymes. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Available at:: www.alternative-therapies.com

Pastore, A., Federici, G., Bertini, E., Piemonte, F. Analysis of glutathione: implication in redox and detoxification. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2003; 333(1): 19-39.

Salminen, S. Nyborn, S., Meriluto, J., Collado, M.C., Vasterlund, S., El-Nezami, H. Interaction of probiotics and pathogens-benefits to human health? Food Biotechnology. 2010; 21(2): 157-167.

Wollowski, I., Rechkemmer, G., Pool-Zabel, B.L. Protective role of probiotics and prebiotics in colon cancer. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. 2001; 73: 451-455.

Three Reasons to Avoid Fad Diets

A quick weight loss program may sound like the perfect way to shed those extra pounds; however, following a fad diet can actually cause more harm than good to your body and your waistline, reminding us that there are no “quick fixes” in life. As their name suggests, fad diets are just that – fads that fade when the next hot trend arrives. These diets are typically characterized as being low fat, low-carbohydrate or high-protein, or concentrate on one particular food item such as the cabbage soup diet. Beyond the seriously lacking science behind their weight-loss claims, these diets usually go against established scientific principles on human health and nutrition. As has been proven again and again, long-term weight loss is most successfully achieved by adopting a low-fat diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins in conjunction with regular exercise and stress management techniques. The following are three key reasons to avoid the pitfalls of the fad diets and choose balance instead.

Dehydration:  The main draw common to all fad diets is the promise of rapid weight loss. However, it is important to understand how the body copes with a drastic dietary change. There is no “magic” behind the significant weight loss associated with high-protein, and low-carbohydrate diets. When the body is not consistently receiving a supply of carbohydrates, glycogen is moved out of the liver and muscles in order to supply the body’s cells with the energy they need to function.

As this lack of carbohydrate intake persists and the body’s glycogen stores become depleted, ketone bodies are produced from fat in order to continue providing energy to various cells and fueling the brain. These two metabolic processes are the body’s coping mechanism for starvation, and they both result in the loss of water. Each gram of glycogen is mobilized with two grams of water, and ketone bodies attract sodium to the kidney as they are being expelled, which in turn further increases water loss. The rapid initial weight loss associated with these fad diets is therefore largely due to significant amount of water that is expelled from the body and not fat loss, as one would expect.

Poor Health: On top of dehydration, studies have indicated that low-fat, high-protein and low-carbohydrate dieters frequently complain of headaches, constipation and fatigue. This is not surprising as fruits, certain vegetables as well as whole-grain cereals and breads are scarcely consumed in low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets. This unbalanced eating pattern fails to provide the body with the long-term adequate nutrients and energy it needs for healthy functioning. High-protein diets put a large amount of stress on the kidneys and increase calcium excretion that can eventually lead to the formation of kidney stones. In an effort to make up for the calcium that is leaving the body, calcium starts to be mobilized from the bones, which can in turn contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

Weight Gain:  Research has shown that the overall compliance rates with fad diets are quite poor over the long-term. Regardless of encouraging weight loss results, depriving the body of major food groups cannot be sustained for a prolonged period of time before nutritional deficiencies occur. In addition to the negative health impacts associated with poor nutritional status, deficiency can also cause cravings for certain foods and eventually lead to binge eating. Furthermore, fad diets can significantly disrupt the metabolism, which adapts to surviving on fewer calories and a limited variety of foods. When fad dieters eventually revert back to their usual eating habits, weight gain becomes virtually inevitable and rapid as their metabolism struggles to adjust. More importantly, at the end of this dietary roller coaster, fad dieters still do not have a clear understanding of the problematic eating habits that caused the weight gain weight to begin with.

Without a positive lifestyle change involving healthy dietary habits, it is virtually impossible to obtain sustained and long-term weight loss. Instead of seeking a quick fix that will lead you back to where you started, stick to the tried-and-true method of enjoying a variety of wholesome foods, watching portion sizes and of course, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine. These three steps are the key to maintaining weight loss and a healthy body for life.

References:

Astrup A, Larsen MT, Harper A. Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: Hoax or an effective tool for weight loss? The Lancet 2004; 364.

Denke AM. Metabolic effects of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. The American Journal of Cardiology 2001; 88: 59-61.

Katz D. Competing dietary claims for weight loss: finding the forest through truculent trees. Public Health 2005; 26: 61-88.

Katz D. Pandemic Obesity and The Contagion of Nutritional Nonsense. Public Health Reviews 2002.

Willy J. Fad diets: why they make you fat. 2009: www.express.co.uk

Staying Happy and Healthy in the New Year

At the start of every New Year, many of us start the yearly tradition of thinking about ways to improve their lives by making resolutions such as losing weight, exercising more often, or saving more money. We may conjure up a regular gym schedule and rigid new diet plan and cleanse our cupboards of all “culprit” foods to make way for healthier ones. However, as the month of January comes to an end, this all-too-often also marks the end of our lofty intentions, resulting in another year of unfulfilled goals. So the question becomes, where we are going wrong with our resolutions and how can we stay true to them throughout the year?

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to overwhelm themselves with change in January.  For lifestyle changes to cross the line into routines, a progressive approach with several small changes tends to be much more effective in achieving long-term success.

It’s no surprise that diet is often the first place people turn to improve their health. The problem is that many of us try to make drastic changes, cutting out entire food groups or extreme amounts of calories, which not only leads to an unbalanced diet but one that is unsustainable to maintain. Setting these types of unattainable (and unhealthy) goals is a sure fire road to disappointment and anxiety when we fall short.

A much healthier option is to balance your diet with healthy fats, proteins and carbs. Not only does a balanced diet promote optimal physiological health, but also better mental health and a state of well-being. Further, certain foods actually increase “happy” chemicals in the body. Fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel contains omega-3 fats and vitamin D, two nutrients with proven depression-fighting effects. Adding these fish to your meals twice a week will give you the health benefits of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in addition to decreasing irritability, low mood and worrying. Those of us in northern climates may particularly benefit from vitamin D, as the lack of sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder, or the “winter blues”.

If you are a carbohydrate lover, swap out flour-based products for whole, pseudo grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice and millet. These types of grains offer a balance of necessary protein fat and fiber, all of which will help to stabilize blood sugar and prevent sleepiness and dips in energy that usually result from the consumption of refined carbohydrates like white breads, rice and pastas. Some cereals are also enriched in folic acid, a nutrient that has been shown to reverse depressive symptoms in those who are deficient.

Other ways to boost your diet into the healthy zone include consuming more legumes such as beans and chickpeas as they are rich in magnesium, which plays a key role in the body’s energy production. Adding leafy greens such as spinach and kale to your salads is also a great option, as these “superfoods” contain minerals such as iron, which helps to carry oxygen to the cells, and B-vitamins that have been shown to help prevent symptoms of depression. Walnuts are an excellent choice for a snack as they are one of the richest dietary sources of serotonin, a hormone that helps create feelings of calmness and happiness. A recent study suggests that those who ate a 1-ounce serving of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds combined had more of this feel-good chemical than a nut-free group.

So, if losing weight is at the top of your list this year, try slowly introducing these foods to your diet to replace less healthy alternatives instead of eliminating major food groups altogether. This will not only prevent your body from feeling deprived (which can result in binge eating), but will also keep you feeling happy, healthy and energetic, in addition to benefiting your waistline.

Exercise is another well-known factor associated with health and happiness, and as with weight loss, the goal to regularly hit the gym appears on many resolution lists. Amidst the countless evidence indicating the health benefits of regular physical activity, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week substantially reduced the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events, proving that even light exercise has major benefits to your health. So instead of going overboard and hitting the gym every day so hard that it leaves you exhausted and reluctant to go back, try incorporating a slow and gradual increase in exercise into your lifestyle. This will help exercise become a daily routine that you will soon enough just do automatically.

Finally, reducing stress is another key factor in maintaining health and happiness. Stress depresses our immune systems, making the body more prone to infection and disease. Although completely avoiding all of life’s stresses is impossible, identifying those that are particularly overwhelming can help to pinpoint the areas that need change. If money is one of those stressors, instead of vowing not to go out on weekends or purchase anything for the next few months, make a realistic budget for your monthly expenses and stick to it. Avoiding unnecessary or impulse purchases caused by not keeping track of your spending will leave you with more money at the end of the month that can be put towards entertainment, traveling or that healthy cooking class you have been meaning to take.

Whatever your New Year goals may be, keep in mind that just as it took time to adopt your current lifestyle, turning them into healthier ones will not occur overnight.  Be patient, break your goals up into smaller and more achievable steps, and celebrate your success as you accomplish each one. This will help you stick to your resolutions making your New Year happier and healthier than the last.

References:

Wijayasinghe S. 8 Tips for staying healthy in the New Year. 2010. Available at:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/holiday-guide/holiday-survival-guide/8-tips-for-staying-healthy-in-the-new-year/article6675423/

Ipatenco S. Nutrition for Health and Happiness. 2011. Available at:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/418150-nutrition-for-health-happiness/

Rones N. Eat you way to health and happiness. 2012. Available at:

http://www.health.com

Salmon P. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: A unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review. 2001; 21: 33.

Smits J, Tart C, Rosenfield D, Zvolensky M. Interplay between physical activity and anxiety sensitivity in fearful responding to CO2 Challenge. Psychosom Med. 2011; 73(6): 498-503.

Brody J. “Even more reasons to get a move on.” New York Times. 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/health/02brod.html?_r=1&

 

Recipe Roasted Turmeric Sweet Potatoes

 

This recipe is a great low-glycemic option to substitute for any traditional holiday potato dish. The sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin B6, minerals and fiber. Turmeric is a potent source of antioxidants and deepens the rich orange color of this dish. Try it for an exotic twist on a holiday classic!

 

 

Ingredients

2-3 sweet potatoes, cubed (approx. 1.5” cubes)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp cracked black pepper

½ tsp sea salt

Sprig of rosemary

 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Add turmeric, cracked pepper and sea salt and toss until well coated.

3. Place into prepared pan, scraping any extra oil onto the sweet potato, and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until soft and golden in colour.

4. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 cups (500 mL)

Healthy Holiday Guide

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, many of us are contemplating the age old wrinkle-promoting holiday questions…. What do I buy for my family or loved ones? When am I going to fit shopping into my busy schedule? How do I avoid the goodie tray at work? How about exercise, is it ok to take a break for the entire month of December? Amidst all of this stressful mental chatter, it is easy to forget that the holidays are meant to remind us to cherish the joys in life…. Family, friends, traditions… and be grateful for the simple things.

The thing is, just because the holidays embody these sentiments and connecting with the special people in your life, it doesn’t mean we have to give up thinking about taking care of ourselves. In fact, maintaining a healthy and balanced approach to the holiday season gives you the enduring energy to lift your holiday spirit as well as those around you. Follow these simple tips to help your holidays stay focused on what really matters: Life, love, health and happiness.

Attitude of Gratitude

Just as laughter is infectious, so is stress… literally. Taking a few minutes out of your hectic holiday schedule to ponder or express your gratitude does wonders for your perspective and your health. Beyond shifting our perspective into the positive realm, choosing to be grateful instead of complaining about a situation actually boosts the immune system.

Studies show that optimistic people maintain higher numbers of white blood (CD4) cells that protect the immune system compared to pessimistic people. The power of positivity and gratefulness works in both healthy and immune-compromised people (one study was performed on AIDS patients)… further demonstrating the incredible force of perspective in maintaining and achieving health. A gratitude journal is a great way of training yourself to embrace this mindset… and also makes a thoughtful gift idea.

The Many ‘Cizes’ of Exercise

It’s excuse yourself for not squeezing in gym time with the plenitude of excuses around the holidays….and that’s ok. Don’t stress out if your routine is thrown out of balance. Stress only makes the situation worse and puts you at further risk of gaining holiday pounds because of the metabolism-slowing effects of the stress hormone, cortisol. You can still capitalize on the fat busting, anti-inflammatory and disease fighting benefits of regular exercise by embracing your new holiday routine (remember… gratitude is healthy!) and fitting exercise in where you can.

Shopping for gifts, readying the house for guests and even holiday travel all provide opportunities to raise your heart rate. Get some exercise and get into the giving spirit at the same time by giving up that great parking spot close to the mall door. Cleaning your home before and after hosting a party is another sure-fire way to fit some cardio in…. and another opportunity to train your brain to be grateful for a seemingly mundane activity. Even holiday travel is peppered with lull times that you can take advantage of. Opt for a brisk walk or stair climb instead of hopping on a moving sidewalk or escalator, and take advantage of the gym facilities if you are staying in a hotel during your holiday visit.

Avoiding the 12 Pounds of Christmas

Sugary treats and goodies are an integral part of the holiday tradition…. But they don’t have to be your only salute to the season. Be mindful of your food intake and only indulge in sweets on extra special occasions (the lunchroom holiday treats would fall out of this category). Opt to savor a bite or two and leave the rest… you’ll be surprised how satisfied you feel and be grateful to yourself for showing restraint. Lead by example and bring healthy treats or snacks to social gatherings. A little taste of a holiday-inspired spice like cinnamon or nutmeg in a healthy treat (like guilt-free chocolate chip ginger oat cookies) will conjure the same warm feelings of holiday nostalgia as a sugar-laden one.

Appetizers and main course dishes for the holiday meal also provide ample opportunity to infuse the season with a wide variety of healthy, nutrient-packed foods. Instead of making the traditional mashed potatoes, try sweet potatoes roasted in olive oil, turmeric and pepper for a low glycemic (carb friendly) and antioxidant-rich side dish. Usually associated with Indian cuisine, the addition of turmeric will peak your guests curiosity at this exotic addition and up the medicinal factor of your festive meal by adding anti-inflammatory properties (especially beneficial for anyone suffering from joint aches). Mediterranean-inspired appetizers such as baba ganoush and hummus served with pita and chopped veggies are also great low-calorie and tasty departures from the usually high-fat dips and meats and cheese platters.

Beyond your Bathroom Scale

The intent of this article is not to breed fear or anxiety about gaining a few pounds or losing your cool despite your best efforts. The important thing is to make your holiday season your own, incorporating all of the healthy and joyful aspects of the season and finding positive ways to handle the challenges and come out ahead. Of course, this advice applies all year long, but the holidays are a great time for a reminder to stay true to ourselves and treasure the simple things in life…. love, health and happiness come first, far before any material need or traditional expectation.

References:

Gleeson M, Bishop N, Stensel D, Lindley M, Mastana S, Nimmo M. The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nature Reviews Immunology 2011; 11, 607-615.

Ironson G, Hayward H. Do Positive Psychological Factors Predict Disease Progression in HIV-1? A Review of the Evidence. Psychosomatic Medicine 2008; 70 (5): 546-554.

Lyubomirsky S. et al. Pursuing Happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology 2005;  9: 111-131.

Teitelbaum J. How Stress Can Make You Gain Weight. Total Health 2003; 25(5).

Tilak JC, Banerjee M, Mohan H, Devasagayam TP. Antioxidant availability of turmeric in relation to its medicinal and culinary uses. Phytother Res. 2004 Oct;18(10):798-804.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Recipe – Guilt-Free Chocolate Chip Ginger Oat Cookies

Feel good about bringing a batch of these holiday cookies to your next social event or workplace. The spices and dark chocolate chips make the perfect combination for a delicious treat. The optional addition of cayenne pepper gives it that extra zing that leaves your company wondering what the secret ingredient is!

1¼ cup oats
1¼ cup whole wheat flour (or almond flour)
¾ cup coconut flakes
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger (fresh grated)

1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

½ cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips (preferably organic)
1 tsp vanilla (preferably organic)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
2 eggs

 

1. Combine dry ingredients (except chocolate chips)

2. Combine liquid ingredients

3. Mix dry and liquid ingredients together.

5. Add chocolate chips.

6. Place 1-inch scoops of cookie dough on un-greased cookie sheet.

7. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly browned.

8. Cool and enjoy!

Adapted from: http://www.doctordoni.com/2011/01/healthy-new-year-cookies-.html

Picture reference: http://www.sohowsittaste.com/2010/12/chewy-chocolate-gingerbread-cookies.html

vegetables

Recipe – Roasted Fall Vegetable Medley

Try this colorful mixture of fall inspired vegetables as a delicious side dish packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants derived from their rich pigments.

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

3 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 medium acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 large turnip, peeled and cubed

2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally (medium thin)

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

3 cups broccoli florets (chopped into 1 inch pieces)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Fresh rosemary (a few sprigs)

Sea salt to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Place the beets, turnip, carrots and squash and broccoli in a 9×12 inch baking dish. Cut an X in the root end of the onions and place them in the dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and add the rosemary and sea salt. Stir to coat the vegetables with oil.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the vegetables are golden brown and tender. Serve hot.

Happy Thanksgiving Turkey Burgers

This recipe is a sure-fire way to celebrate the harvest season while defeating the doom of the impending winter blues. Turkey, kidney beans and whole grains all have boosting effects on our body’s happy molecule, serotonin.

Ingredients:

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/3 cup low-fat cheese (Cheddar, Monterey jack or Havarti), diced

12 oz lean ground turkey (organic, if possible)

1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

2/3 cup chopped white or red onion

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce (a little extra to top bun)

1 tbsp canola oil

4 leaves leaf lettuce

4 slices tomato

4 whole grain buns, split and toasted

Low fat mayonnaise (to taste)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine egg white, cheese, turkey, salt, kidney beans, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, and cranberry sauce and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture and form into 4 patties. Tuck any pieces of cheese into the burgers with your fingertip to prevent scorching. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add burgers and cook 6 to 7 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve on whole grain buns, top with lettuce and tomato and a small amount of low fat mayonnaise and cranberry sauce (to taste).

Recipe inspired by: www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Southwestern-Turkey-Burger-230175#ixzz28AR7IlX5

Sunscreen Salad Recipe

Sunscreen Sweet Potato Salad

This summer salad is packed full of beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. Enjoy as a healthy meal and support your skin at the same time!

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup each olive oil and red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, stems removed

 

Directions:

  1. Bake sweet potatoes in an oven at Heat oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Make a slit in the top of each sweet potato.
  2. Whisk dressing ingredients in a large serving bowl.  Stir in tomatoes, onion. Serve or cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours.
  3. Just before serving: Add spinach; toss to mix.

Pour vegetable/dressing mixture on top of sweet potatoes and serve immediately.