Welcome to Cultivating Health! If you haven’t done so already, sign up for Juicy News, my monthly e-newsletter that gives you practical health and nutrition tips that will have a profound impact on your health and happiness if you’re ready for change. Juicy News topics include:
- menu planning
- digestive issues
- hormonal imbalances
- adrenal fatigue & stress
- cravings (especially sugar cravings)
- playful eating
- work-life balance
Of course, there is always a delicious, seasonal recipe in there, too!
In addition to juicy health tid bits, you will receive invitations to special events including nutrition playshops, cooking demos and classes and PLAY events.
As a token of my appreciation, you will receive a free 15 minute phone consult AND my Top Kitchen Tips & Tricks to save you time and aggravation and bring the fun back into meal prep.
Here’s to cultivating YOUR health!
Let’s face it. No one enjoys feeling bloated, but it seems to be even more uncomfortable when parading around in a swim suit. Do you sometimes feel like your stomach is a beach ball, ready to pop? Perhaps you happen to check out your profile in the mirror and wonder if others think you’re pregnant. You are not alone, Dahling! Often what we eat, how we eat and how we cope with stress has a lot to do with the size of our mid-sections.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help trim the belly bulge for the beach this summer.
Believe it or not, many people are sensitive to dairy and don’t even know it. Commercial, ultra-pasteurized dairy is not a real food, Folks. In fact, it can be too congesting for most bodies, wreak digestive distress, cause or exacerbate allergies and make people plain sick. Also, as we age, we don’t produce as much of the enzyme lactase which is responsible for digesting the milk sugar, lactose. Try eliminating dairy from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it and see what happens. Bloating is a very common symptom. If you must have dairy, look for raw dairy products.
Sadly, gluten in wheat and other grains can also cause the belly to bulge. Because our wheat has been hybridized to contain more gluten (the protein in wheat that gives bread it’s elasticity) it can be difficult for most of us to digest. Gluten can create inflammation in the gut which can damage your villi and microvilli which compromises their ability to digest food. Food in the gut that isn’t digested ferments, creating gas and bloating. In the end, this inflammation makes your intestinal lining more porous and allows undigested food particles to slip into the blood stream, creating an immune response that’s often unpleasant. This is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. See how you feel and look. You might be surprised.
Increase Fiber and Fluid
Sometimes bloating is simply due to constipation. Food fermenting longer than normal in the colon can cause gas and bloating. The solution is to drink your darn water and plenty of it. Why? Water lubricates the intestinal lining and moves nutrients into the cells and waste out, an essential part of the digestion proces. It also dilutes extra acid around the cells that can create inflammation. So how much water should you drink? Most holistic practitioners agree that you should drink half your weight in ounces. Fiber, of course, also helps scrub the colon and keep it moving. So eat your veggies and fruits with abandon! If you can tolerate grains, toss in some gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat for an extra scrub.
Sadly our society is all about multi-tasking and getting things done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t not work well for the digestive system. When you’re eating, focus on nothing but eating. Eat at a dining table – your coffee table or desk doesn’t cut the mustard! Take one bite and savor it for as long as possible. This may sound a little weird, but let you tongue play with it! Chew that bite until it’s liquid. This allows the enzymes in your food (if it’s raw or slightly steamed) and in your salivary glands to begin the digestion process. This means less burden to your pancreas (which secretes digestive enzymes) later! Eating should be playful and sensual. Enjoy.
Stress contributes to poor digestion and constipation. When you’re stressed, your whole body tightens up. Your colon gets tense just like your neck and shoulders and that just isn’t working well for digestive system health. When elimination slows, stagnation grows and so does your belly. So what’s a powerful antidote to stress and bloating? Play of course! Play is a way to connect to ourselves, be present and experience joy. So what sounds more fun – joy or bloating? I thought so… 😉
So try one or all of these tips and see how they work for you. Feel free to comment here and let us know which tip works best for your body. And maybe you have some additional tips or experiences to share with our Eat. Play. Love. readers!
It’s that that time of year when the body kicks its natural cleansing process into overdrive. If you’re like many folks, your body has built up a few extra toxins from the Holiday season. Too much sugar, refined carbs and poor fat sources congest the body leaving our cleansing systems backed-up. When your elimination systems aren’t working optimally, your immune system becomes compromised leaving your body open to colds, flus and other infections.
There are several things you can do right now to keep the “bug” at bay.
Increase your vegetable intake, especially antioxidant rich foods such dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots and winter squash. Dark leafy greens are full of nutrients that support a healthy body and mind. They are also hydrating and full of fiber which supports regular bowel movements. Both dark leafy greens and orange colored veggies like sweet potatoes and winter squash are full of pro-vitamin A/beta-carotene which is a crucial nutrient for the immune system. Vegetables should be the foundation of any diet as they are the most nutrient rich foods out there and won’t congest the body. If you’re not a fan of eating vegetables, consider juicing them, blending them into a smoothie or pureeing them into a soup.
Hydrate with bone broth and fresh vegetable juices. Hydration is key to keeping nutrients moving into your cells and wastes moving out of them. Water also helps to support elimination. Finally, your body has numerous mucus membranes which protect the body including those in the lungs, nasal passages, eyes and digestive tract. To keep the mucus from becoming too thin or too thick and sticky, the body requires adequate hydration. If your mucus membranes aren’t functioning well, you’re leaving yourself open to pathogens.
Eat your sea vegetables. Sea veggies are full of important minerals and omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial co-factors for many processes that the body must accomplish each daily to stay healthy. In particular, sea veggies are full of calcium, iron and iodine which nourishes the thyroid. The thyroid keeps the timing of all of the body’s processes on point. If the body is running too slow, one can become constipated, stagnant and eventually sick. If the body runs too quickly, it can wear out important tissues and organs. Last but not least, sea vegetables help to detoxify and transform toxins in the body so they can be excreted harmlessly.
Dump the sugar. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates are one of the most congesting and acidifying foods for the body. Holistic health practitioners agree that disease does not survive in an alkaline environment. Sea veggies, dark leafy greens, bone broths and other mineral rich foods help to keep the blood’s pH slightly alkaline. Instead of refined carbs, consume complex carbohydrates found in whole grains and vegetables.
Relax and take time to play. One of the biggest toxins attacking our immune systems is in our heads – STRESS. Believe it or not, stress is more toxic than a Big Mac (sorry to pick on you, Big Mac). So, it doesn’t matter how healthy your are if you’re a stress bucket most of the time! Your body is designed to respond to short-term stressors. It doesn’t know the difference between a bear and your boss (although for some of us, our bosses look more like bears every day). As a result, your body produces stress hormones which in time, take their toll and compromise the immune system. The only prescription for this condition is relaxation and play. Relax or play each day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. When you relax, you’re telling your body that the emergency is over so it can go back to doing what it does best – taking care of all your body’s systems, not just the ones involved in an emergency situation.
Pick the thing on this list that resonates with you the most first. Then add one new tip each week over the next month or so. If you can commit to it, I guarantee this works better than any flu shot!
Do you find it difficult to eat well and exercise during the Holidays? The Holidays don’t have to be a struggle or full of guilt around poor food and lifestyle choices.
Join Chelsea of Groove Dance Fitness, LLC and Kim of Cultivating Health for an exciting Healthy Holidays Open House at the Glenn Dale Community Center!
PLAY will explore healthy alternatives to sugar and ways to bring that sweet flavor into your Holiday menus. Learn and PLAY games that will keep your family entertained and fit during the Holidays. Explore movement that is fun for the whole family that will keep the trimmings from tackling your waistline.
Wear comfortable clothing and tennis shoes, and please bring water and your sense of humor.
This program will give you a taste of what’s to come in PLAY’s Fitness & Nutrition classes at the Glenn Dale Community Center this winter. We have PLAY for Success to help you set and keep your healthy New Year’s resolutions and PLAY for Energy to reinvigorate and energize you when you have those winter blues!
The big day is tomorrow and then the Holiday Season officially begins. When it comes to taking care of ourselves, this time of year can be a struggle. Often we are shuffling from one engagement to the next without thinking twice about the toll it’s taking on our bodies and spirits. So what can you do stay vigilant about your physical and emotional health this Holiday Season?
Here are five simple tips you can incorporate NOW to help you stay healthy during the Holiday bustle.
Tip#1: Eat breakfast every morning.
Yes. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you energy for the rest of the day and stabilizes your blood sugar levels. If you currently don’t consider yourself a breakfast person, start out with something simple like a hardboiled egg, oatmeal or a piece of fruit or sprouted, whole grain toast with your favorite nut butter. Just make sure your breakfast contains protein or complex carbs and fat. Avoid simple, refined carbs like cold cereal.
Tip#2: Have at least one alkaline drink every day.
During the Holidays, it’s easy to get caught up eating foods and drinking beverages that have an acidifying effect on the body. When your cells become acidic, they can’t hold oxygen and essentially suffocate. Tissues in the body become inflamed and begin to degenerate. Many experts say that cancer cells can’t survive in an alkaline environment. In addition to incorporating a lot of veggies into your daily menu plans, mix any of the following in 8 oz of water and drink at least once a day to help balance the pH of your blood and cells:
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 TBSP of raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBSP of chlorophyll
- 1-2 TBSP of greens powder
Consider making a green smoothie and if you have a juicer, juice some of your favorite veggie combinations. One of my favorite recipes contains apple, carrot and ginger. Yum!
Tip #3: Keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily.
Counting your blessings can keep you focused on the reason for the season. Our problems seem less dramatic when we focus on what’s going right in our lives. Then when things do go wrong, it’s not as big of a deal, allowing us to keep our stress levels in check.
Tip#4: Set a timer on the hour for breaks.
When the timer goes off, take five minutes to stretch, do breathing exercises, sit-ups, squats or close your eyes and meditate. Mix it up! In fact, decorate a box or other container and write about ten different activities on separate slips of paper. Keep this box near your timer or hourglass in your office, and pull out one slip of paper on the hour and do that activity. When you’re on the go, set several alarms listing different activities on your smartphone. You may not be in a place where you can plop on the ground and do sit-ups, but you could balance on one foot, close your eyes for a few minutes and take three deep breaths or do a gratitude check.
Tip#5: Take several deep slow breaths through the nose and smile between events.
Be intentional and playful about your schedule. If you have one (or ten plus) of those days that’s booked solid, be sure to take a few moments to acknowledge the present moment in between activities. Smiling lets your body and brain know that life is good and you can relax and enjoy the ride! Also, feel empowered, not guilty, about canceling if you do overbook and need to retreat.
Be sure to review my Healthy Holidays tips from last year to give you a few more ideas on how to live the next month more mindfully and playfully. In addition, Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness and I are hosting a Healthy Holidays Open House at the Glenn Dale Community Center on December 1st. Visit PLAY for more information. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing how these tips work for you and other playful ways that you create healthy habits during the Holiday Season!
School is back in session and most of us don’t have as much time for food preparation as we would like and are looking for quick healthy options for ourselves and our families. We also want to instill good eating habits in our children. The most important piece of this puzzle is planning. You need to plan what snacks you will have on hand, when you will purchase them and when you will prep them for your children.
The next thing you need to consider is how you are going to involve your child in the process. If she takes ownership in creating her own snacks, she will be much more likely to consume them! I recommend finding a shelf or area in the refrigerator and a spot in one of your kitchen cabinets that is in reach of your youngster. Stock these areas with healthy options that they are allowed to explore and sample.
Consider giving them an apron and stool to help them reach the counter and feel a part of the kitchen. You can always have the ingredients ready-to-go so that your child can put them together whenever she feels like having a snack. Spend some time teaching your child how to prepare the snacks so she feels comfortable making them on her own. Once your child practices a few times with you, she will be able to make snacks on her own. Heck she might even invent a few new and creative combinations. Check out the following ideas that have been kid-tested and approved!
- Fresh, piece of fresh organic fruit
- Dried organic fruit
- Sliced apples, pears, celery or carrots with almond butter or hummus
- Brown rice crackers or whole grain crackers and hummus or nut butter
- “Ants on a Log” (celery topped with natural peanut butter or almond butter and raisins or dried blueberries)
- Cut vegetables such as celery, cukes, carrots and red peppers with hummus or bean pate
- Organic corn chips and fresh salsa or guacamole
- Organic, full-fat yogurt, muesli or sugar-free granola and diced apples or pears
- Edamame dressed with sesame oil and a pinch of sea salt
- Homemade Trail Mix (try a combination of any of the following: almonds, peanuts, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, dried coconut flakes, dried pitted dates or apricots and naturally sweetened chocolate chips)
- Tamari Roasted Almonds and other nuts (just be sure not to overdo it as too many nuts can be congesting and dehydrating!)
- Kale Chips
- Toasted Nori Seaweed and pumpkin seeds
- Popcorn popped in coconut oil and topped with sea salt and Parmesan cheese
- Fresh or frozen fruit smoothies
- Dried fruit slices without added sugar (apples, peaches, banana, mango, pineapple)
- Rolled coconut dates (consider cocoa powder, carob powder and/or almond meal)
- Sliced avocado dressed with olive oil, lime juice and sea salt (you can even make a boat with an avocado half and stuff it with salsa – scoop it with corn chips or a spoon)
- Frozen banana (dip in yogurt and roll in muesli before freezing for an extra treat!)
- Sprouted whole grain bread with nuts and fruit and topped with coconut oil
- Fresh smoothie
Enjoy and let me know which ones work for your child. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them, too.
Note: In this post, “she” is a gender neutral pronoun.
If you missed our debut PLAY Ladies Night Out! event, not to worry. I am posting a couple of the seasonal cocktail and mocktail recipes in this post for your enjoyment! We had a grand time with 18 lively women ready to PLAY! Chelsea kicked-off the fun with the thought-provoking, yet amusing game, “If I Were Queen of the World…” While sipping a glass of fresh, seasonal vanilla infused peach sangria, participants shared their wishes for the world which included everything from a world where everyone was kind to men relinquishing ownership of the remote control.
Other games included a fast-moving game of “PLAY charades” with a variety of food and movement related subjects and “Pass the Cucumber” which was a great thigh workout and team building exercise. I considered posting photos of the cucumber game, but decided to spare the participants from embarrassment. As one of our pregnant participants said, “It’s a good thing I’m not further along as I would have had the baby from laughing so hard!”
In addition to Chelsea’s delish peach sangria, we served a fabulous Fizzy Basil Watermelon Caipirinha and a Cucumber Lemonade Chiller with fresh rosemary from my garden. We used local fruits, veggies and herbs when possible and it made for outstanding drinks! The mocktail versions were served with extra sparkling water instead of booze. I also made a thirst-quenching herb water that included sliced limes, lemons, cucumbers, ginger and mint. This concoction can be served in still or sparking water and is a great alternative to plain water – tasty, refreshing and alkalizing!
Here is the recipe for the favorite drink, the Fizzy Basil Watermelon Caipirinha.
Inspired by Marc of norecipes.com
- 1.5 cups Cachaça (liquor optional)
- 1/4 cup coconut crystals (make into a simple syrup, can also used whole cane sugar)
- ½ cup basil leaves finely chopped
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 sweet lime juiced (optional)
- 1 small seedless watermelon peeled and cubed (from a 3-4 pound melon)
- 2 cups ice
- mineral water
- Muddle together Cachaca, coconut crystals, basil, and lime juice.
- Peel and chop watermelon; transfer to a food processor/blender and puree.
- Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. (Repeat if necessary.)
- Add watermelon juice and Cachaca mixture into a blender, add 2 cups of ice and blend.
- Divide among 4 glasses. Add a splash or two of mineral water to taste.
Equally, delicious and refreshing, here is the Cucumber-Lemonade Chiller recipe inspired by Delish.com:
- 3 large cucumbers
- 1 TBSP of chopped fresh rosemary
- ¾ cup gin optional
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 TBSP of agave syrup (you could also use raw honey or coconut crystal syrup
- Cut 12 thin slices of cucumber for garnish (optional).
- Peel and chop the rest of the cucumber; transfer to a food processor, add water and rosemary, and puree.
- Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. (Repeat if necessary.)
- Add gin, lemon juice, and agave syrup to the cucumber juice; stir or blend until the agave is dissolved.
- Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with cucumber slices and rosemary sprigs.
Finally, the evenings menu included a Summer Quinoa Salad, Tarragon Chicken Salad, green salad, crudite, hummus and cheese and crackers.
If you’re interested in joining us for our next PLAY Ladies Night Out! event, follow us on Facebook or sign up for Juicy News and be sure to select PLAY. Learn more about the PLAY Program at www.letsPLAYhealthy.com.
Chelsea and I are excited to debut the first event in the PLAY – Ladies Night Out Series: Games, Cocktails & Mocktails!
We designed this event to provide women in our community an unconventional opportunity to unwind, have fun, and experience new ways to create vibrant health in their busy lives.
Chelsea and I will inspire you to think outside the box when it comes to being “fit and healthy”. During the night you’ll be movin’ and groovin’ playing fun and sexy games and sipping on several delicious cocktails and mocktails made from fresh organic seasonal fruits and herbs.
Dress cute, and come ready to move and lift your “spirits”!
The night includes games, drinks and a light dinner. Checks are accepted, please contact us at 202-596-PLAY before Friday to make payment arrangements.
Date: Friday, July 27, 2012
Time: 7:00 to 9:00pm
Location: Greenbelt, MD
Not to worry, if you can’t join in the fun this Friday. We plan to make PLAY Ladies Night Out a regular event. So many games, cocktails and mocktails and so little time! Chelsea and I have begun to explore healthier versions of cocktails and their mocktail counterparts. We’ll share a few drink ideas with you for your next occasion or just to celebrate YOU and your fabulousness after a long day. The drinks will focus on natural sweeteners such as fruit, stevia, raw honey and coconut crystals instead of heavy mixers with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors.
We’ll show you how to use seasonal fresh fruits, veggies and herbs to infuse healthful nutrients into your adult beverage. They give the drink much more depth and flavor than their artificially sweetened counterparts. If the idea of fresh herbs in a cocktail throws you for a loop, consider them as sexy sprigs of flavor that jazz up any beverage. By themselves, they are quite potent, but when used in a cocktail, they are subtle and flavorful. Some of our favorite fresh herbs include spearmint, rosemary and basil.
One of my personal summer gems is a mojito made with fresh lime, sparkling water and muddled spearmint and stevia for sweetness. Of course the rum is always a nice touch, too!
There are a several organic spirits distilled from organic grains on the market. I’ve included a few to get your started:
There are also some mixers on the market that are made without the use of artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors. I’ve only tried a few of these, so I can’t vouch for all of them. Try them and let me know!
More refreshing drink ideas coming your way…
If there is one thing all of us could use a little more of, it’s time for play. Sometimes incorporating more fun and play into our lives seems like a daunting (perhaps even stressful) task. Who has the time between work, family, friends and keeping up with housework and cooking meals? Although it might seem like another thing on our “to do” lists, play is very important to our happiness, health and spiritual growth. On a physical level, it calms the nervous system and keeps our cortisol levels in check. When our cortisol levels are elevated, the immune system is suppressed. In addition, there is a correlation between high cortisol levels, increased blood sugar levels and extra abdominal body fat. On a spiritual level, play is a way of connecting to our inner child and our real selves that we often forget as we go about our busy adult lives. Play helps us find our center. It brings a smile to our faces and what’s the point of living if we don’t enjoy it?
So you’re convinced you need to play more, but aren’t sure how to make it happen. Well, Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness and I have partnered together to bring you PLAY – Play. Love. Achieve Youthfulness. PLAY is an innovative program designed to help you transition into a healthier lifestyle that is carefree and effortless. Our interactive approach and informal group setting provides an opportunity for maximum support and growth. You’ll find enjoyment in discovering new foods, experiencing alternative forms of traditional physical activity and practicing self-nourishment.
We’ll show you how to PLAY spontaneously, how to schedule in PLAYtime and how to incorporate PLAY into life’s seemingly mundane tasks. If you’re interested in learning a few powerful tools to bring more PLAY and joy into your daily routine, please join us for a FREE orientation on February 6th at 7pm at Signature Blue Events. Chelsea and I will give you a taste of how PLAY can help you create a vibrant, joyful life. This winter’s program at Signature Blue Events will focus on mindful eating, cravings, hydration and how to make movement an integral part of your day.
Looking ahead, we’ll be offering PLAY Detox in March. This program will give you the tools needed to incorporate a gentle, yet effective cleansing program into your spring cleaning routine. By detoxing your body with the help of an experienced Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant and Fitness Professional, you will have more energy, clearer thinking and better digestion. You will spend one week easing into and planning for the detox, two weeks detoxing and one week re-introducing foods and preparing the body for a healthy new routine. For more information, visit PLAY Detox. There is a special discount for participants who sign up for both PLAY and PLAY detox.
In the meantime, stay tuned here for PLAYtips…
In order to make room for more blessings, we first need to count the blessings we currently have in our lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and to forget what truly matters. Consider naming then things that you are truly thankful for every morning when you wake up. Your blessings can range from the comfy sheets on your bed to your children and other significant others. It’s important to affirm the gifts the Universe has given us to remind us how lucky we are to be here so we take nothing for granted.
If you don’t get all your decorations in place, gifts perfectly wrapped or your Holiday cards signed and mailed, let it go. There will be other Holidays. How fortunate are we to have homes to decorate? Gifts to wrap? Friends and family to send cards too? Amen to that! We often have unhealthy expectations of ourselves and other people that result in undue stress. Enjoy this time of year. Only do what you’re moved to do. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with your friends and neighbors and make unrealistic goals for yourself. Let it go and lose the guilt. Your friends and family will still love you. I promise.
We often have a tendency to get caught up in doing things for others during the Holidays. Just remember that you’re only as good to others as you are to yourself. If you don’t recharge, how effective will you really be? Incorporate down time. It will go a long way to keeping you chipper and energized during the Holidays. Your family and friends will thank you. Plus, this is a great time of year to re-connect with ourselves and reflect on what our souls are calling us to do and who to be.