Monday, February 18, 2019

to your good health!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably figured out from all my food photos that I'm not just into cooking and food, but healthy eating as well. I've talked a little bit here on my blog over the past few years about healthy eating and living, but I've gotten requests for sharing my knowledge of these subjects in regular blog posts. Healthy foods and eating are such broad subjects, that I'm hoping to do posts on individual subjects at least a few times a month. For right now, I'm just going to dive into some basics and give you a few healthy, simple recipes. These are things anyone can make. No cooking talent required!

Disclaimer: I am not a physician or any other kind of certified health professional. I am simply a lay person that reads and researches many aspects of natural health and clean eating; puts these things into practice in my own life as much as possible; and wants to share what I have learned and am still learning in order to help people lead healthier lives. The content provided in this blog and any linked sites are not intended to be medical advice. If you have any medical concerns, consult with your physician. I am not liable for any health advice that I write on this blog. 

I can tell you this much for sure: whatever you put in your mouth has almost everything to do with your health. You eat garbage, you're going to feel like garbage and your health is going suffer. "At least 80% of how you look and feel comes from your diet" (Dr Samantha Durland). You truly are what you eat. Thus said, I am far from perfect. Healthy eating is something I work on and strive for every single day. Some days I don't do as well as others. I try not to beat myself up over that. Instead, I start anew the next day.

I found a new family care physician through a friend whom I went to last week. He does some holistic care and is very much into working with the patient on a healthy lifestyle. He spent 45 minutes with me, actually talking to me and giving me healthy suggestions, and making me feel good about myself, my health and my future by the time I left. The only prescribed medication I was on was a miniscule dosage of Lisinopril for high blood pressure. I had been on it since I was 38 years old: 19 years!! I originally started out on 10 mg, but I was much heavier when I was younger. Over the years as I adopted a healthier lifestyle and lost weight, I was able to decrease my dosage of medication. I had asked my former PCP the past few years if I could go off the Lisinopril and she always said no - even though my blood pressure was always normal. This new doctor took me off the medication! My blood pressure in two different readings was low and then average. He said, "You don't need this medication." He said that if I continue to eat even healthier (i.e., more plant-based meals, less cheese) and exercise more, that everything will naturally fall into place...lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol (mine's pretty good, but could use some improvement), lower blood sugar levels (again, mine's good but wouldn't hurt to be lower). He also explained to me that if for example, I had've come to him when I was 38 years old with high blood pressure, he would not have automatically put me on hypertension medication. He would've worked with me on lifestyle change instead. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have found a doctor like this! And I can now announce that I am medication free. That feels so good!

I know some of you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, and while I think that is fantastic, it is not for me. (I have a hard time digesting beans/legumes and I don't eat soy or soy products.) I am also not here to discuss the ethics of meat eaters versus plant eaters. I am only focusing on clean, healthy eating. 

Thus said, I am incorporating more vegetables and fruits into my diet and eating less meat. This doctor wanted me to eat beets for my blood pressure, but I told him I loathe beets. Beets and mushrooms are the only two vegetables I just cannot stand. So he told me I could buy beet root powder (I didn't even know there was such a thing!) and use it in my smoothies. I found this organic beet root powder on Amazon. I use a teaspoon in my morning smoothie and can barely taste it. In fact, I love the taste of my smoothie even more than I did before! And it makes the color very pretty. I make my smoothies by using 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, a banana, some frozen organic fruit (I used blueberries in the smoothie shown below), 1 tsp. of the organic beet root powder, about 1 T. of hemp hearts/seeds, a sprinkle of turmeric (great for inflammation!), a spoon of organic, natural peanut butter (make sure the peanut butter you use doesn't have any added sugar and doesn't have any hydrogenated oils in want to eat a peanut butter that is just that - peanut butter - and nothing else...except salt, if you want the salted kind), and a big handful of organic baby spinach.

Another healthy, simple meal idea is to top toast (please don't use processed white bread; use a bread where the first ingredients are whole grains...Ezekiel Bread or Dave's Killer Bread are excellent choices) with mashed avocado (I added fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to mine) and top with a cooked egg. This will fill you up for hours. If you're vegan or don't like eggs, avocado toast on its own is delicious. You can sprinkle the avocado with nuts, sunflower seeds or pepitas, or even some pomegranate seeds.

I'll throw in one more quick, healthy meal idea that anyone can make...when you're craving pizza, it's much healthier to make your own at home. This is something I struggle with. Pizza is one of my favorite foods! And I live in the Chicago area, so we have THE best pizza.

Make your own pizza crust, or use a prepared one. Just make sure it has minimal ingredients and no hydrogenated oils (such as soybean) or preservatives in it. The one pitfall of this type of bread is that it is high in sodium. So even pizza at home should be a special treat. Most people don't realize that bread contains a lot of sodium!

Brush your pizza crust with extra-virgin olive oil or tomato sauce seasoned with herbs. Then load on the vegetables. I sauteed my vegetables just a couple of minutes before putting them on the pizza so that they wouldn't be TOO crunchy. I used red peppers, broccoli and red onion. You could also use fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and/or jalapenos. To do as the good doc said about cutting down on the cheese, I used fresh mozzarella sparingly. Bake at 400 degrees until done. My pizza took about 10 minutes.

I hope this post was informative and helpful and I look forward to sharing a lot more about healthy eating, nutrition and natural health in future posts. Please feel free to share any of your own stories or ideas about healthy, clean eating. We're all here to help each other.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

still in the throes of winter, but robins & valentine's day decor add some cheer

We're still in the trenches of winter here in northern Illinois and I'm officially sick of it and longing for spring. Two weeks ago we had a couple of big snowstorms, then we had record-breaking cold, and now this evening into tomorrow morning, we're under a weather warning for an ice storm. They're saying travel will be nearly impossible on untreated streets and not to be out unless you absolutely have to. I don't have to go anywhere, but both my husband and son will be traveling home from work tonight. They're also saying we could easily lose power from snapped power lines and falling tree branches. If we lose power, that means we won't have any heat either.

All worrisome indeed, but since I can't do anything about the weather, I can at least take pretty pictures. These were taken 1-1/2 weeks ago at a neighboring farm where I was picking up my custom pork order. Their hogs are pasture-raised and supplemented with a non-GMO, organic grain mix. If I'm going to eat meat, I feel better ethically eating meat that's been humanely raised and not fed GMO corn and soy. And our bodies thank us in the way of good health with that part, too.

 Last week I walked into my living room and saw a flash of orange out of the corner of my eye. I looked out the window and did a double-take when I saw a robin! I know not all robins fly south for the winter: there are "winter robins". Nevertheless, I have never seen one in winter. I ran to get my phone to take a photo and had to take this through the living room window, plus zoom in - hence the blurry photo. Someone on Facebook commented that she looked pregnant, too. Either that or she's just very fluffy!

 It's been gray and gloomy outside for what seems "forever". So I'm always glad when it's time to start decorating for Valentine's Day because the pops of red and pink add color and cheer around the house. Even though we don't make a big deal out of this "holiday", I've always liked it because there's no stress...and who doesn't like hearts?

In my bedroom, a tin heart and a hand-stitched Cupid pillow hang from the side of a bookcase...

and best of all, a heart banner made by Connie of Crafty Home Cottage hangs above my bed. I treasure all the things my blogging friends have made for me over the years.

In the kitchen...

Inside my small china cabinet...three out of the four hearts in the white box in the middle were made by Carol of Art and Sand. The fourth (the one in the back, right) was made by Penny of At Home in English Valley.

"The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love" (Hubert H. Humphrey)

Thank you for both. 💓