Our lives are hectic and busy. I know, but this week I encourage you to take a few minutes to examine your daily routine and consider removing activities and events that are adding unreasonable stress to your life and add some simple items to your routine that can reduce stress and increase vitality. Spring especially is a great time for making diet and lifestyle changes. The two actually go hand in hand. The state of our mental, spiritual and emotional health all contributes to our body’s ability to properly digest and assimilate the nutrients from the food we eat. Here are five simple steps to improving your overall health and life experience. One small change can make a world of difference. (Tip #5 is my personal favorite - although I don't always succeed at it)
1. Wake up with the Sun!
Provided that you are not up with a child or baby all night, try to go to sleep early enough to awaken without an alarm. I can’t overstate the importance of SLEEP! So many amazing things happen when we are properly resting. Now that spring is here this is easier to do! Try to arise at least 1 hour before you must leave home. Give yourself a few minutes to sit quietly and pray/meditate and visualize the plans you have for the day ahead.
2. Upcoming Rising - Drink 2 cups of water
One may have half of a fresh lemon squeezed into it to help with morning purification. This helps to hydrate your body after a long duration (sleep).
3. Eat & Drink Separately
General rule of digestion is to keep your liquid intake to a minimum during meals. Drinking too much liquid dilutes your gastric juices and hinders the acidity in your stomach needed to digest your food properly. Drink can be consumed up to 30 min prior to your meal and then wait until 60 minutes afterwards before enjoying that mid-morning or afternoon herbal tea.
4. Eat… then Rest
It is best to follow a good meal with a relaxation period or mild activity. A short walk after any meal can aid digestion and assimilation. This may be especially good after lunch if you work in an office all day and need some added fresh air to awaken your brain for the second half of your day.
5. UNDER Schedule your Evenings
The evening brings relaxation through reading, visiting, listening to music or romancing, depending on your wishes. The evening is a good time to nourish yourself in other ways besides eating food! In our world of “screens” it is easy to be in “work-mode” long into the evening with emails and texts coming in at all times of the day. Set a time to put is down and away and don’t schedule every night of the week with added activity. Leave room for creativity!
From my house to yours - Have a very Joy Filled Week!
This past Sunday we joined a local church and organized a “Smoothie Sunday!” After service, the regular coffee & cookie refreshment time also included this healthy option. Many parishioners enjoyed a smoothie for the very first time! How exciting!
For beginner smoothie lovers or children, I like to present very simple recipe full of flavor. I offered my “JoyFull Green Smoothie” as one of the options. This is a very simple and common recipe.
JoyFull Green Smoothie Recipe
2 cups fresh Spinach
1 cup frozen Mango
2 cups non-dairy Milk (almond or coconut)
1-2 cups water (as needed)
Add to Blender and Blend until smooth and creamy.
Add water to create the texture you enjoy (thick or thin!)
I love smoothies for their simplicity and variety. But maybe you are ready to JAZZ UP that basic recipe. Here are some ideas!
JAZZ UP Your Smoothie!
(Add one or more of the following to taste)
2 tblsp chia seeds (source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and the seeds also absorb up to 12-times their weight in water, which ensures better hydration throughout the day)
2 tbslp hemp seeds (source of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, vitmains & minerals)
1 tsp flaxseed oil or ground flaxseeds (rich in omega 3 fatty acids “good fat”)
1 tsp spirulina (good source of antioxidants, B vitamins, iron, copper, and manganese)
1 cup pineapple (digestive enzyme bromelain, anti-inflammatory, vit A & C, potassium, calcium)
1 tsp cinnamon (digestive aid, lowers blood pressure, protects against diabetes)
Remember - Healthly Food choices should become part of your regular lifestyle and bring Joy & Energy to your life!
Your taste buds will change as you eat better. If you don't like the taste of something now, give it some time and try again in a few months.
HAPPY SMOOTHIE MAKING!
Today is my birthday - so let's talk about CAKE! :)
When you are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and making food choices that are best suited for your own body, special life events like Feast days and Birthdays can be difficult when it comes to food. Often people are met with “oh it’s just one day, here have some cake”. But what appears to be “once in a while” can quickly turn into, once a month or every weekend in some households. Most social gatherings (religious or otherwise) always include food. So do you have to give up cake on your birthday? What about Grandma’s Holiday Pudding? I’m happy to say Yes! - you can have your cake and eat it too! Here are my 2 simple solutions when it comes to family feasts.
Two Simple Solutions when it comes to Family Feasts
Call me sister of substitutions, but this is one of the most effective ways of keeping traditional foods in your family. Most of my family doesn’t realize that the traditional recipes I create are not so traditional. Take my Grandmother’s Holiday Pudding (aka Carrot Pudding) for example. I replaced the brown sugar with small amount of maple syrup, the suet with butter or coconut milk and increased some of the spices to keep it full flavor. Grandma herself said “Best Pudding Ever” this year when I presented it.
I have made a pumpkin cheesecake (with tofu and maple syrup) and it was a hit! Last month I also made a Sugar-free diabetic cake for a friend. The challenge was the icing, but an easy substitution for icing sugar was cornstarch & stevia powder.
The trick? Don’t label your food (vegan/sugar free/healthy), just present healthier options full of flavor and substitute with ingredients that work for you.
"Don’t label your food, just present healthier options for you and your family and enjoy it!"
2) TRY SOMETHING NEW!
Family celebrations are also a great time to simple try something new! For my nieces 1st Birthday, we avoided cake completely – not only for the sugar, but she wasn’t eating foods with that texture yet. So I made her a watermelon fruit cake! She LOVED the cake we made and still had her “bash cake” moment when she plunged her full face into the center of the juicy watermelon! Happiest kid ever, and we didn’t have to worry about getting icing in her eyes (have hear horror stories of screaming kids with icing in their eyes). I made a larger version (seen below) for the adults with coconut whipped cream and it was a hit all around!
We have enjoyed many desserts, so here is one that I will enjoy on my Birthday! Chocolate Mint Cheesecake (dairy free, sugar free, gluten free). YUMMM!
Whether you tweak your family recipes with creative substitutions, or serve up a new tradition, remember: You can have your cake and eat it too!
CHOCOLATE MINT CHEESECAKE
(dairy free, sugar free, gluten free)
Create crumble in food processor
*Puree in blender*
To half cheesecake mixture add:
To half cheesecake mixture add:
Set in freezer until firm (minimum 1 hour).
*Top with fruit, mint leaves or chocolate chips etc.
Remove from Freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.
*Recipe Modified by Jennifer Levitan from www.onegreenplanet.org *
Let’s face it: Without being too dramatic about it – we live in a pretty toxic world. We consume toxins in our food, in our workplace, in our environment…even our thoughts can be toxic!
All this toxicity can be hard on our body and mind and sometimes the accumulation of toxins is so gradual that we hardly even notice. Feeling a little bit (or a lot) horrible every day becomes our new normal.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take time out of our regular routine every now and then to allow our digestive system some time to rest and for our bodies to undergo a little cleaning and fine-tuning. The change of season is a great time to do this and I will usually schedule in 2-3 cleanses each year to coincide with Spring, Fall and the New Year.
So, do you need to detox? This informal quiz will help you get a sense of whether your body may be functioning a bit less than optimally these days. And for many of us, that’s putting it mildly!
**The Detox Quiz is not intended to diagnose any disease or illness, nor is it meant to replace any advice that you may have received from your doctor or other health professional. **
My intention with this quiz and always, is to help you become more conscious about your overall health and wellness and to highlight how, before any disease sets in, you may experience any number of symptoms. By better supporting your body in a more preventative way and addressing any symptoms as they arise, my hope is that you can enjoy lasting good health and avoid many of the diet-related diseases which affect so many people these days.
~ Detox Quiz ~
#1. Are you tired a lot of the time? (Especially early-morning and/or mid-afternoon?)
#2. Do you lack concentration or find it difficult to stay focused?
#3. Do you get sick frequently (i.e. common cold or flu)?
#4. Do you have bad breath?
#5. Do you often feel congested?
#6. Do you often experience bloating, gas or indigestion after meals?
#7. Do you have less than one bowel movement a day?
#8. Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
#9. Do you have allergies or food sensitivities?
#10. Do you have skin problems (acne, eczema or psoriasis)?
#11. Do you drink less than 5 glasses of water daily?
#12. Do you crave lots of salty or sugary foods?
#13. Do you sleep poorly (difficulty falling asleep or waking up at night)?
#14. Do you have frequent mood swings or lack patience?
I’m going to suggest we look at the Detox Quiz Results from two perspectives – mine and yours. As with everything in life, there are usually no black & white answers. But my feeling is that everyone can benefit from eating more healthily and making a conscious effort to reduce toxic overload on a regular basis. It only makes sense that this will help your body to better maintain overall health & wellness.
So, in terms of the Detox Quiz Results, here’s my take on things:
So, could YOU benefit from a short detox? I’ll leave that for you to answer and that’s where the second perspective comes in when it comes to analyzing your results.
I’d like to ask you one question: HOW DO YOU FEEL?
That’s the most important question for you to ask yourself and I really encourage you to check in with yourself on a regular basis because your body will give you clues when it’s not doing great but sometimes those clues can be subtle and easy to ignore at first. Perhaps joint pain has set in – mild at first but getting worse. Or instead you get a headache every now and then but over time they become more frequent. Or maybe you feel tired and impatient and lose your temper more often than you’d like. For each person the symptoms can be very different.
The important thing is to catch your symptoms before they turn into disease!
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Who Shouldn't Detox? Anyone suffering from, or diagnosed with the following should not consider detoxing until their conditions are addressed: chronic fatigue, low immunity, heart problems, low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, cancer, peptic ulcers, diabetes / hypoglycaemia. Also, women should never detox during pregnancy or while nursing.
If you’d like to chat more about whether a detox is right for you, please contact me.
Jennifer Levitan, C.H.N.C. is a Northern Ontario based Holistic Nutritional Consultant specializing in a simplified approach to healthy eating. With a focus on delicious, whole, local and sustainable foods, Jennifer empowers her clients to make practical nutrition choices for optimal health and a life of JoyFull Eating!