Sunday, September 25, 2016

Our Challenge for the Week- EATING BUGS!

Hmmmmmmm not sure if any of you ever try to guess what our next challenge will be, but if you do I bet I would have stumped you this week. I am going to challenge you to eat some bugs. You’ll be relieved to know I’m not referring to the creepy crawly, and maybe even leggy and crunchy roaches, ants or crickets-- I’m talking about microscopic bugs—the beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in foods like yogurt or kefir. 

According to one of my favorite nutrition bloggers Monica Reinagel M.S.,L.D./N. from  “Every traditional cuisine has developed some sort of naturally fermented or cultured food. There’s Japanese miso, Bulgarian yogurt, Polish sauerkraut, Indian lassi, and Korean kim-chee. And each of these plays a central role in that culture’s cuisine … and for good reason. All of these foods contain lactobacillus bacteria, which are extremely beneficial to your health. In the days before antibiotics and other drugs, cultured and fermented foods were critical to staying healthy.”

Monica goes on to explain that “The friendly bacteria found in these foods actually set up housekeeping in your gut, where they do all kinds of good things for you: They help digest your food and produce certain vitamins for you. They keep the lining of your intestines slick and shiny. Most of all, they make it harder for unfriendly bacteria to take hold and make you sick.”

In other words if we have a basic population of beneficial bacteria in our gut our digestive system will work better and our body will be healthier and better able to fight off disease.
Monica goes on to explain that “Unfortunately, the traditional methods of fermenting cabbage in stoneware crocks, or burying salted vegetables in pits in the back yard, or culturing warm goat’s milk on the hearth are just not as common as they used to be. Instead, we have ultra-pasteurized milk that keeps for six weeks. Let me assure you that no beneficial bacteria survive the ultra-pasteurization process.”

Personally I love kimchi (I had a Kimchi taco last week- yum)  and Kefir (Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir grains and is believed to have its origins in the Caucasus Mountains. It is available in health food and many grocery stores and it tastes like a yogurt drink but almost like it has a bit of carbonation. My sons love it)) but probably the easiest way to get our daily lactobacillus fix is to eat yogurt regularly

Which brand of yogurt should you buy? Look for brands that advertise “living cultures” but it is not necessary to pay extra for fancy yogurts that promote digestive health. Regular yogurt contains all that you need.

It’s pretty easy to work some yogurt into your daily diet. Besides eating it as a breakfast or snack you can easily add it to smoothies or soups or use it in dips or spreads .

And I’m a step ahead of you ladies in your day dreaming. Does frozen yogurt (one of my all time favorite treats) contain live active yogurt bacteria and qualify as “eating yogurt’?  Maybe and maybe not. It seems that while the freezing process does NOT kill the yogurt bacteria some frozen yogurts use heat-treated yogurt, which does kill the live and active cultures. The best way to find out is to ask at your local frozen yogurt shop or look for the NYA Live & Active Cultures seal. What you want is live active yogurt bacteria. And remember if you find a frozen yogurt which contains live culture but also has sugar it DOES count as a sugar day! You might enjoy plain or unsweetened yogurt with some fresh fruit or non-caloric sweetener added. 

For every day that you eat at least 1/4 cup of a fermented food (sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, kefir, kim-chee etc.)  containing live and active cultures or take a probiotic supplement you earn the daily 5 bonus points. Happy yogurt eating ladies! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Doctor! Doctor!

You probably know how often you can go between pedicures, hair
cuts, and hair color, but it’s harder to remember when you’re due for
certain health screenings. Yet I can’t think of a healthier habit than
getting regular check ups so that you can become aware of any
problems or concerns in the early stages when they are easily treated.
I thought I’d share the current guidelines.

Note thought that guidelines should never be set in stone and that you and your doctor can make the best decision about scheduling certain tests more or less frequently than recommended. What tests, procedures and check ups that would benefit you will be based on the guidelines, but also on your personal medical history, family history, and lifestyle and behavior choices (For example because I have already had 2 instances of skin cancer I need a full body skin check every 6 months). If you have a worrisome symptom, do NOT delay having it checked. Early detection is a key to overall health. 

So am I really going to make you go to the doctor as part of our Fall Healthy Living Challenge? Yes. Our challenge for this week it is to SCHEDULE a needed medical or dental exam. I realize that with co-pays or lack of insurance these exams can be expensive and some doctors are booking several weeks out so I’m not requiring you to GET an exam or procedure this week. But to earn the 35 bonus points for this next week you need to make a list of what appointments and procedures you are due for and actually schedule at least one of them. It is amazing to me how it can seem like just a few months since I've seen a doctor but when I pull out the info to check it has been 4 YEARS (yes this actually happened to me.) So yes I am OK with you scheduling an appointment for 6 months from now but call the Doctor now and get on the books. And if you are current on all of your medical and dental check ups pat yourself on the back and claim your 35 points- good job without having to do anything special this week. No I am not going to require you to have EVERY check up that you may be due for, but please be prayerful about what is most important for you to take care of rather than just scheduling the easiest appointment. 

So now are you wondering what recommended screenings you might be due for? Here are the guidelines.


In your 20s and older:

1. Primary care physician, trained in either family or internal medicine: Once a year (at minimum every other year). Checkup should include reading and fecal occult blood test to screen for problems including gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. You should also get a fasting blood sugar test every two years or so to screen for diabetes.

2. Gynecologist: Once a year. Includes Pap smear, pelvic exam, clinical breast exam.

3. Dentist: Every six months for teeth cleaning and oral exam.

4. Dermatologist: If you're fair-skinned or have a family history of skin cancer, you'll want an annual appointment. Otherwise, go if you have any suspicious moles or skin problems.

5. Vaccinations: Make an appointment if: (a) it's time for your tetanus booster (required every ten years); (b) you're not immune to chickenpox (you need the shot if you've never had the disease or the vaccine); you're not immune to measles, mumps, or rubella (if you were born after 1956, you may need to be inoculated for all three, usually in one shot).

In your 30s, add:

6. Cholesterol screening: You need one every five years if your last test was normal. Some experts say you can wait until your 40s to start unless you're at increased risk for heart disease because of smoking, family history, obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

In your 40s, add:

7. Mammogram: The rigorous and evidence-based U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended starting annual screenings at 40; other guidelines suggest beginning at 50. Use your intuition and common sense based on your health and family history, and discuss your decision with your doctor.

8. Stress echocardiogram: Get a baseline analysis of how your heart is holding up.

9. Ophthalmologist: Many doctors advise going annually, although others recommend every two to four years until age 65, then annually. The visit should include an intraocular pressure measurement for glaucoma.

In your 50s and above, add:

10. Colonoscopy: Every five years unless family history or past results dictate more often. 

11. Bone density scan: Start routine testing at menopause—earlier if you're small-framed, your weight is very low, you have a mother with osteoporosis, or you've had fractures (other than in a freak accident) after age 45. Some experts recommend waiting until you are 65, unless there are risk factors.

Note if you have big pile of birthday or inheritance cash burning a whole in your pocket I also recommend a new DNA test called 23 and me (order at It's expensive ($200) but provides you with a wealth of information on everything from what diseases your may be most prone to experience to what nutrients your body does a poor job of up-taking. You can take the data 23 and me sends you and plug it into and also on to get stacks and stacks of info about how to best handle your stewardship over your body and your unique genome. 

So that's it for this week ladies. Make a detailed list of what check ups you are due for and schedule at least one. Let's be healthy together for many decades to come. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Green is the color of life!

Our challenge for the week is to eat at least one serving of green leafy vegetables every day. You can eat them raw in salads or green smoothies, or cooked. One cup of raw greens is one vegetable serving. My favorite way to eat greens is in my daily green smoothie (yes hubby and I drink this for lunch EVERY day) I have modified this recipe recently after doing the Whole 30 (30 day challenge to eat only whole foods- nothing processed) so where I used to use Stevia sweetener and protein powder I now sweeten with whole dates and use real whole seeds for protein. Anyway here’s my recipe: Serves 2
Blender stuffed full of fresh greens (I actually buy them fresh but usually store them in the freezer)
1 whole frozen banana
2 T. Organic Cocoa powder (yes it’s a chocolate smoothie)
2 T. Chia Seeds
2 T. Hemp hearts
2 T. Flax seeds (I grind them right before throwing them in)
5 dates
1 cup coconut milk (I sometimes use flax milk/I'm allergic to almonds)
1 cup water
1 cup crushed ice
Put on gun range head phones (yes a Vitamix can damage your hearing. I have pink gun range ear protection)

Blend and enjoy! Looks weird but tastes like a glass of fresh!

Eat Your Greens!
A nutrition professor once said that it was common for our ancient ancestors to eat up to six pounds of leaves per day. He imagined them walking along from one place to another, just picking and eating leaves as they went. Can you imagine eating a grocery bag full of greens each and every day? Few of us even eat the minimum USDA recommendations of 3 cups of dark green vegetables per week. And yet, these veggies deliver a bonanza of vitamins, minerals, and
Health Benefits
Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amount of Omega 3 fats.
Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K, and even a couple of cups of dark salad greens usually provide the minimum all on their own. Recent research has provided evidence that this vitamin may be even more important than we once thought (the current minimum may not be optimal), and many people do not get enough of it.
Vitamin K:
Regulates blood clotting
Helps protect bones from osteoporosis
May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques
May be a key regulator of inflammation, and may help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthitis
May help prevent diabetes
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to put a dressing containing some oil on your salad, or cook your greens with a bit of oil.
Almost Carb-Free
Greens have very little carbohydrate in them, and the carbs that are there are packed in layers of fiber, which make them very slow to digest. That is why, in general, greens have very little impact on blood glucose. In some systems greens are even treated as a "freebie" carb-wise (meaning the carbohydrate doesn't have to be counted at all).
So that is your challenge. Eat at least a serving of greens every day! I hope this is a habit that you will continue for your whole life!

Note: I am a huge Costco fan. I love their bags of Power greens. They contain Kale, (a cruciferous vegetable) Chard and Spinach in the mix. That’s what I always use for my smoothies. And you can’t beat their price on chia seed or hemp hearts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Let's take a strong step toward healthy living

Hoorah we are at the start of wonderful things and I'm so excited!

I apologize again for being so pokey in writing the weekly challenge. I usually try to get them posted here by Sunday so you can prepare for the next week. Alas a hurricane and broken computer nearly did me in but here we are. To earn the daily/weekly bonus points this week you need to:
1. Weigh and measure yourself (the competition requires waist and hips measurements but I like to take bust, abdomen, thigh and arm as well) and put these secret numbers in a safe place. No you do NOT have to share them with me. You will weigh weekly and report your results weekly. You will take measurements at 4 and 8 weeks.
2. Join my and if you haven't already done so add 3 new friends (note you can find them in my e-mail headers)
3. Read or re-read the FAQ's and RULES tabs on the blog
4. Make sure I have ALL of your and your partner's contact info (cell phone #, e-mail address and snail mail address)
5. This week make sure you and your partner touch base with each other every day in some way. Work on encouraging each other daily in creative ways to get on track with healthy living.
6. I have a good friend that is joining us again for this round of competition and today she asked me "What are you going to eat on the challenge?" I know when you commit to getting on track with healthy living there are things you are going to cut out or cut way back on and that's a bit sad. But are there healthy foods you look forward to eating? To earn the bonus challenge points for this week (35 points for the week) put a comment on this blog with something healthy you are looking forward to enjoying while on this challenge. It can be a recipe or just an easy treat (like frozen grapes). I am hoping we can all benefit from lots of great ideas of healthy things to enjoy!

Now have an awesome week and next week check here around Sunday for our next week's challenge!