Balance Your Hormones

Everyone thrives when their hormones are balanced. Lack of adequate hormone secretion can affect mood, digestion, and fertility. For female-bodied people, there are not any foods that contain estrogen or progesterone. However, certain nutrients support the body’s natural process of producing these hormones in a balanced way. Since most of the neurotransmitters that produce our hormones live in our intestines, using food to balance hormones is very effective!

After age 35, progesterone levels tend to decrease and estrogen levels increase. This slow process eventually leads to menopause. We can support this gentle change while we are still in the child-bearing years (until age 43 on average) by boosting progesterone levels.

Here is a list of progesterone-stimulating nutrients and their food sources in order of importance. Don’t feel like you need to get all of these nutrients every day. Focus on L-Arginine, Magnesium, and B Vitamins.

L-Arginine: aim for 6 grams per day

  • Turkey – 4 ounces contain about 16 grams

  • Chicken – 4 ounces contains 9 grams

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 1 cup contains 7 grams

  • Chickpeas – 1 cup contains 1.3 grams

Magnesium: aim for 500 mg per day

  • Spinach – 79mg per 100g

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 534mg per 100g

  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 97mg per 100g

  • Brown Rice – 44mg per 100g

  • Dark Chocolate (70% or higher) – 327mg per 100g

  • Vital Calm Magnesium powder – 320mg per serving

Vitamin C: aim for 1,000 mg daily (do not exceed)

  • Yellow Peppers –3mg per large pepper

  • Kale and Collard Greens – 120mg per 100g

  • Kiwi – 64mg per Kiwi

  • Broccoli – 89.2mg per 100g

  • Oranges – 69.7mg

Vitamin B6: aim for 25 mg per day

  • Sunflower Seeds –35mg per 100g

  • Pistachio Nuts – 1.12 mg per 100g

  • Tuna – 1.04mg per 100g (cooked)

  • Turkey – 0.81mg per 100g (cooked)

  • Prunes – 0.75mg per 100g

Vitamin E: aim for 150 mg per day

  • Almonds – 2mg per 100g

  • Sunflower Seeds – 3mg per 100g

  • Shrimp – 2mg per 100g of Shrimp

  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 8mg per 100g

  • Olive Oil – 4mg per 100g

Zinc: aim for 25 mg per day

  • Beef – 12.3mg per 100g

  • Wheat Germ – 16.7mg per 100g

  • Pumpkin and Squash Seeds – 10.3mg per 100g

  • Cashews – 5.6mg per 100g

Here are some recipes that include hormone-balancing ingredients.

Easy Trail Mix

You will need:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

  • 1 cup almonds

  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1/4 cup cashews

  • 3 tablespoons pure Grade B maple syrup

  • A pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup prunes,chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients except the prunes until well mixed.

Spread mixture in an even single layer on the lined baking sheets.

Bake the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place back into bowl, add chopped prunes and toss to combine. Cool completely.

Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lemony Turkey Stew

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 pound organic ground turkey

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 cups kale, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, oregano and salt

  • 1 bunch kale

  • 1 inch chopped kombu or wakame seaweed

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté turkey on medium high heat with vinegar, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, ginger, cabbage, seaweed and spices. Stir well. Add the kale and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and stir in lemon juice. 

Serve and enjoy!

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Blueberry Bread

Winter is a wonderful time to prepare dishes that feature the summer's bounty and remind us of the warmer days that will soon come.

We froze a lot of blueberries this past summer and have been enjoying them in baked goods all winter long.

May this bread nourish and inspire you. It's a great one to make an advance and have ready for breakfast or a snack when you're short on time.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon each: baking powder and baking soda

  • A pinch of salt

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350.

Oil a loaf pan and set aside.

Mixed together the flours, spices, soda, powder, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and put the vinegar, syrup, eggs and oil into that well.

Whisk them together with each other then incorporate with the dry ingredients. The batter should be fairly thick and lumpy.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Run a knife along the edges of the bread and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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Green Lasagna

Spring is finding its way into summer here in Vermont. As we approach next week's new moon and the possibilities that it brings, consider ways to bring more vegetables into your life. This shift offers a host of benefits: from improved digestion and immunity to healthier skin and balanced weight.

Try this vegetarian lasagna recipe to bring more green into your next meal.

Green Vegetarian Lasagna

You will need:

  • 2 packages gluten-free lasagna noodles, oven ready (I like De Bole's brand)

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and oregano

  • 3 cups cremini mushooms

  • 5 medium zucchini

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • Two 15 ounce cans (canellini white kidney) beans (I like Eden Organics) or 3 cups cooked dry beans

I like this recipe because you can prepare the two sauces on a day off, assemble the lasagna whenever you have time, and refrigerate it for up to a day before baking it.

Chop the onions and saute them in olive oil for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme and oregano.

Coarsely chop and add zucchini. Saute for 5 more minutes and then set aside to cool. Blend with immersion or upright blender until you get a smooth sauce.

Then, prepare the second sauce.

Melt the butter in a deep skillet.

Chop the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and add them to the butter. Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Mince garlic and add that to the mushrooms. Add cooked beans and milk. Stir well saute for 3 or 4 more minutes, then and turn off heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with olive oil.

Assemble the lasagna by first spreading a thin layer of the mushroom bean sauce on the bottom.

Place noodles on top and make sure that they do not overlap for even baking.

Spread the zucchini sauce over the noodles.

Cover with a generous helping of grated Parmigiano.

Add another layer of the mushroom bean sauce, more noodles, zucchini sauce, and cheese.

Repeat until you get to the top of the dish. I usually make 4 layers.

After you lay down your last layer of noodles, do not add more zucchini. Just cover them with cheese and then wrap the dish tightly with aluminum foil. It's ok if it mounds over. It will settle as it bakes.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Remove foil, turn broiler on high, and broil for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Serve immediately with a side salad.

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Spring Cleanse

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. 

Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits. 

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring's flavor is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, horseradish, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, millet, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind. Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring.

In India’s time-honored tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

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Food-Based Cleanse

Spring is wonderful time to cleanse the internal organs with delicious fruit and vegetable juices. If you do not have a juicer, just use a food processor and strain out the pulp before drinking the juice. You can keep juice in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Juice recipes and health benefits:

  • To strengthen digestion - 1 granny smith apple, 2 carrots, 1 beet

  • To support the liver - beet greens, 1 beet, 3 stalks celery, 2 inches fresh ginger root

  • To cleanse the blood - 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1 granny smith apple, 2 handfuls fresh parsley

Enjoy! Drink a small glass of juice three times daily, from just after you wake up to times of low energy between meals.

Regardless of whether or not you are able to drink fresh juice, you can lighten your diet and include more lacto-fermented vegetables, bitter greens, lemon juice, and whole grains in your meals.

For a week, try to eliminate the following foods, which can tax the liver, gall bladder, and lymph over time:

  • alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages

  • meat: white fish is ok once during the week if it helps you meet your protein needs

  • cheese, cream, ice cream: choose avocados, coconut milk, roasted root vegetables, baked apples

  • popcorn, crackers, cookies

  • products containing sorbitol or xylitol (sugar-free gum and candies)

  • refined sugar: choose raw honey or maple syrup

  • gluten and processed grains like pasta/bread: choose spring grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet

Instead, enjoy the fresh nourishment of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Garnish food with high quality olive oil or flax oil and lemon juice.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Quinoa porridge with carrot spread and almonds

  • Baked sweet potatoes with hard-boiled eggs

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and quinoa

  • Roasted roots with hard-boiled eggs

  • Baked acorn squash with tahini (roasted sesame seed butter), coconut butter, and cinnamon

Lunch and Dinner:

Use recipes from the "spring" category of this blog.

Keep these on hand along with chopped carrot and celery sticks when you need a snack as you are cooking! Remember that flavor, which comes from spreads and spices, is crucial to enjoying your food.

Snacks:

  • Miso broth

  • Granola bar

  • Smoothie or juice (more juice and smoothie recipes on my blog)

  • Apple or orange

Liquids:

  • Dandelion root tea and a glass of warm water with lemon juice in the morning

  • At least 3 quarts water daily

  • Herbal tea in the evening: Traditional Medicinals’ Detox tea is a nice choice

Would you like more specific guidance, meal plans, and recipes for your cleanse? Try my two-week, food-based cleanse.

Green Drink to Boost Mood and Energy

As we head into the holidays, it's good to slow down and take care. Food is a wonderful way to soothe the spirit and keep the body healthy. 

When the sun sets earlier in the afternoon and we need energy to make it through the rest of the day, anti-inflammatory spices and energizing berries and vegetables can lend that energy.

Try this drink to support you during and afternoon slump and boost your immunity, too!

Green Drink

In a food processor, blend these ingredients well:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley

  • 1⁄2 cup frozen blueberries

  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon

  • 1 inch of of fresh ginger root, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk

Drink this beverage when you are feeling tired or cravings sweets / carbohydrates in the mid-afternoon. This kind of drink tends to slow down digestion in the morning, but provides a great afternoon energy boost. 

I like to heat it gently after I blend it to have a warm, soothing drink. You can make a double batch and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Blueberries: strengthen immunity and enhance overall health with power-packed antioxidants; support brain function and offer acid-alkaline balance in intestines. 

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms.

Parsley: Rich in Vitamin C to decrease inflammation, beta carotene to help prevent infection and strengthen immunity, and folic acid (B vitamin) to support cardiovascular health. Contains volatile oils that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens as well as ease the burn of insect bites and stings.

Spinach: high in fiber to support healthy digestion and intestinal flora, iron for energy and healthy immune response, and folic acid for heart health.

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Cabbage Recipes

Why cabbage? It is a healthy and inexpensive vegetable that’s in season in the fall and winter. It contains polyphenols, cancer-preventive plant nutrients. It’s packed with Vitamins A & C to boost immunity. It helps reduce inflammation and heal stomach ulcers.

Purple Cabbage Soup

You will need:

  • 1 head purple cabbage

  • 1 rutabega

  • 2 yellow onions

  • 3 tablespoons olive, grapeseed or sunflower oil

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander

  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop onions into thin crescent moons.

Heat oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add mustard and spices and simmer for 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile, chop rutabega and turnips into small chunks. Chop 1 medium red cabbage into threads, removing the hard inner core.

Add vegetables to the pot and add enough water to cover vegetables. Bring both to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook with the lid on until vegetables are soft.

Purée with a blender or immersion blender.

Enjoy with a dollop of unsweetened yogurt or sour cream.

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Comforting Cabbage and Noodles

This is adapted from a traditional Slovakian recipe, Haluski.

You will need:

  • 1 package wide egg noodles or gluten-free noodles

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 yellow onion

  • ½ head green cabbage, chopped (about 5 cups)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions (boil until tender) and then drain in a colander.

While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice the onion. Remove any dirty or damaged outer leaves of the cabbage.

Cut the cabbage into wedges, remove the core, then slice thinly.

After draining the noodles, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the sliced onions to the pot used to cook the noodles. Sauté the onions over medium heat just until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is tender (5-7 minutes).

Return the drained noodles to the pot with the cabbage and onion. Add the remaining butter and stir until the butter is melted and everything is evenly coated. Season the cabbage and noodles liberally with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve warm.

You can scramble an egg and serve that over it to add protein to your meal!

Savory Cabbage Fritters

This is adapted from a traditional Japanese recipe, Okonomiyaki.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4-5 cups shredded green cabbage

  • 1 carrot

  • 3 green onions

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce or sriracha

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Thinly slice the cabbage until you have 4-5 cups.

Peel the carrot and shred it using a large-holed cheese grater.

Slice the green onions.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth. Begin whisking in the flour, ¼ cup at a time, until it forms a thick, smooth batter.

Add the cabbage, carrots, and green onion to the batter and stir until the vegetables are mixed and everything is evenly coated in batter.

Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add ¾ cup of the vegetable and batter mixture. Press it down into the hot skillet to form a circle, about 6 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place a cover on the skillet to hold in the steam, which will help the cabbage soften as it cooks.

Cook the pancake until golden brown on the bottom (about 5 minutes), then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side.

Pile the cooked pancakes on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm until ready to eat. Add more oil to the skillet as needed as you cook the pancakes.

To prepare the spicy mayo, mix together the mayo and hot sauce. Drizzle over each pancake just before serving.

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Revamp Your Lunch Routine

Fall is here, and it's the perfect time to look inward, slow down, and change the way that we eat. Summer's expansive energy is culminating in the harvest of beans, grains, root vegetables and winter squash. These are also essential foods to eat right now because of their immune-boosting benefits.

Try these lunch ideas to strengthen your immune response and simplify your diet.

To prepare:

Set aside 3 hours of time on a day off. Make a list and go food shopping.

Prepare a double batch of these two recipes and you will have lunches ready for the week ahead.

Green Leek Millet Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup millet

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large leek

  • ½ teaspoon each: sea salt and black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh greens: dandelion, kale, chard, collards

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin and coriander powder

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard (no salt added)

Place millet in a stock pot with 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Add salt and black pepper.

The millet will reach a thick, porridge-like consistency as you stir. Once it does, remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Chop 1 large leek into rounds. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add leeks.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, black pepper, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add greens. Simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out of the vegetables.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie plate with olive oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with cumin, coriander, lemon juice, and mustard.

Spread the millet on the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Place vegetables over millet. Pour eggs over the top and bake for 40 minutes.

Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D.

Leeks: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Shitake Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms

  • 3 carrots

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon

  • 3 cloves garlic

Place kasha and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken. Add spices.

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop cauliflower and carrots.

Oil a rectangular baking dish. Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish. Season with spices, Toss well to coat. Roast for 15 minutes.

Chop shitakes and add them to the roasting vegetables. Roast for 15 more minutes.

Mince garlic. Remove vegetables from oven and mix in garlic. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha. Cover kasha with the vegetables. Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.

Bake for 15 more minutes. Cool, slice and enjoy!

Buckwheat: this little seed is not technically a grain, but is often treated like one. It is gluten-free and contains more protein than fiber or fat. It is filling, nourishing, and offers a warming quality during the colder months. Buckwheat helps maintain balanced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Its beneficial effects are due to its high flavonoid and magnesium content. Kasha is the name for toasted buckwheat groats, which cook up much more quickly than raw buckwheat.

Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.

Mushrooms: anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and anti-oxidant. These members of the fungal family have rich, earthy flavor (umami), are high in protein, and are the fruiting bodies of a network of mushroom mycelium that runs underground throughout the entire planet. They contain a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which may be able to bind onto aromatase enzymes in breast cancer cells and lessen their ability to produce estrogen.

Would you like to dive deeper into changing your lunch routine?

I have created a week-long menu plan of plant-based lunches, which includes recipes, a shopping list and cooking tips. You can prepare each of these lunches easily as you make breakfast in the morning.

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Blood Pressure and Heart Health

Reduce Blood Pressure and Promote Heart Health 

Eat 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal daily.

Sprinkle it on sautéed vegetables, salads, and whole grains. Consuming flaxseed in a variety of foods was linked to a reduction blood pressure when eaten daily over six months. Flaxseed’s alpha linolenic acid, lignans, peptides and fiber reduce blood pressure.

Use good quality olive oil.

as your primary cooking and garnishing oil. Spanish researchers compared a diet of polyphenol-rich olive oil to a diet that didn't contain any polyphenols and their effects on

blood pressure over a period of four months. The results: The polyphenol-rich olive oil was linked with drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure—especially among women with higher blood pressure to start.

Reduce consumption of saturated fat.

Try to cut out most dairy. Unsweetened yoghurt is ok 3 times weekly. Limit intake of coconut products to 3 times weekly. Whenever possible, avoid pork products, lunch meat, and beef/venison/beefalo. The peptides that are produced when digesting saturated fat are known to increase blood pressure.

Reduce consumption of nuts and nut butters.

Again, these protein sources are high in saturated fat and can aggravate rising blood pressure. Pistachios seem to be ok on occasion.

Limit sodium intake.

Please read labels on packaged food. If a food product contains more than 50 mg of sodium per serving, try to avoid it. Stop sprinkling salt on your food before you eat it and enjoy its natural taste.

Eat more beets!

A 2013 study in Nutrition Journal observed a reduction in systolic blood pressure six hours after participants drank beet juice, especially among the men. Beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure.

Enjoy foods high in potassium.

Consuming more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks was linked to a drop blood pressure (study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition). Other potassium-rich foods include bananas and potatoes.

Focus on omega-3 fatty acids.

If you aren’t doing so already, take a fish oil supplement. I recommend Nordic Naturals. Include salmon in your diet weekly and enjoy eggs daily or every other day.

Enjoy magnesium-rich foods.

These are known to lower blood pressure and are delicious, too! Choose chard, kale, avocados, pumpkin seeds, black beans, and quinoa.

Drink herbal tea.

A blend of linden flowers, hawthorn berries, motherwort flowers and hibiscus flowers promotes heart health due to the high anthocyanin and polyphenol content of these plants. Add a bit of raw honey to sweeten the tea.

Practice deep breathing.

Calming the nervous system has a proven effect on reducing blood pressure. Try this: breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2, breathe out for 4, hold for 2. Repeat this cycle 3 times.

Get cardio-vascular exercise.

Two or three times weekly, try to walk uphill or ride a bicycle at a rate vigorous enough to feel your heart pounding. Do this for at least 10 minutes. Slow down, then resume the vigorous rate for 10 more minutes. Remember to stretch a bit before and after exercising.

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Get Your B Vitamins!

Many kinds of B vitamins are important to human health: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Each of the B vitamins has a unique and essential function:

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate: red blood cell production and nervous system health

Biotin and pantothenic acid: healthy metabolism

Niacin and thiamin: cardiovascular health and energy production

Riboflavin: production of skin cells, nails, and hair

The B vitamins are necessary cofactors in an essential cellular process called the methylation cycle. In this cycle, all three B vitamins are used to convert a potentially damaging molecule called homocysteine into the useful amino acid cysteine. When levels of these B vitamins are low, blood levels of homocysteine rise—a situation that has been shown in numerous studies to significantly increase the risk for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Luckily, homocysteine levels can be kept in balance by eating a diet high in the following foods.

Whole Grains (high in B6 and B12): brown rice, oats, kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

Vegetables (high in folate): spinach (also contains B6), parsley, broccoli (also contains niacin & riboflavin), kale (also contains niacin & riboflavin), beets, turnip and mustard greens (also contain B6), asparagus, romaine lettuce, bell peppers (also contain B6)

Fruit (high in B6): banana, mango, avocado (also contains pantothenic acid)

Legumes (high in folate and niacin): all lentils, green peas

Nuts / Seeds (high in B6, B12, folate and niacin): almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds

Animal Protein (high in folate, B6 and B12): beef, chicken / beef liver (also contains biotin), chicken (also contains niacin & riboflavin), pastured eggs (also contain biotin, niacin & riboflavin), wild salmon (also contains riboflavin)

Be sure to include food sources of B vitamins all year round! Some of us may need supplementation of specific B vitamins. If you would like to learn about ways to tailor your dietary needs to your personal constitution, please schedule a nutritional consultation here.

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Healthy Eating Guide and Recipes

As the days grow shorter and we spend more time inside, it's important to focus on healthy eating as preventive care. This is also a great time to enjoy

foods that promote mental health

. Here are some healthy eating guidelines to keep in mind.

Healthy Eating Guidelines

Eat 90% of your food to nourish your body and 10% just for fun. Your eating doesn't have to be perfect, just look for progress!

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat between 9 and 12 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and important phytonutrients such as carotenoids and bioflavonoids that protect us from cancer, heart disease, and most other chronic degenerative illnesses. Fruits and vegetables also provide us with fiber.

Choose organic and/or local foods whenever possible. The average American eats a pound pesticides each year, which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Organic and pesticide-free foods have higher levels of nutrients because organic farmers pay more attention to their animals' health and to their soils. Also, the mineral levels in local and organic food are twice as high, on average, as commercially grown foods.

Try to eat foods that are in season. They usually have the highest nutrient content and the greatest enzyme activity. Eat foods that will spoil. This insures that the food still has life in it. Packaged foods lack this nutrient-rich vitality.

Increase high-fiber foods if you can tolerate them. Try to consume 20-30 grams of fiber daily. Richest sources are whole grains (brown rice, bulghur, millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, quinoa), legumes, vegetables and fruits. Fiber protects our colon health, and reduces our risk or colon and breast cancer. Try these high fiber recipes.

Eat high quality fats. Fats found in avocados, fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines), nuts and seeds, organic coconut oil and olive oil all provide essential fatty acids. These crucial nutrients reduce inflammation, calm the nervous system, and improve joint motility. 

Eat breakfast! This practice jump-starts your metabolism so you feel more energized, digest better, and use your calories for energy instead of storing them as fat. Find easy breakfast recipes here and here

Follow my healthy eating program. Treat yourself or a loved one to two weeks of clean eating with recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and nutritional recommendations tailored to your dietary needs and health goals. For $39, I will help you develop healthy cooking and eating habits to last a lifetime.

Learn more here.

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Freezable Meals

I so appreciate all who comment on these posts and make requests for more. Your feedback lets me know that this information is useful and allows me to learn how I can best be of service to you.

Thank you!

Based on requests, here are ideas for meals you can prepare in advance and freeze to have on hand in a pinch. Because we are pregnant, I am starting to freeze meals for the time after the birth. Whether or not you are expecting, this practice is a great way to incorporate healthy food into your diet no matter the circumstances.

Holiday time often gets full, and there's not always time to cook whole grains, mineral-rich vegetables, and nourishing proteins. By preparing this dishes ahead of time and enjoying them during the holidays, you will feel better, help ward off the cold and flu, and enjoy your down time more.

To start, get all the ingredients for two or three of these dishes. Have enough containers to store all the food in the freezer. Set aside two hours of time where you will not be interrupted, Invite a friend or a family member to cook with you if you like. Put on music and make it fun!

When you freeze, make appropriate portions. If a meal serves four and there are two of you, split it into two containers. Fill containers three quarters full so that they have room to expand once they freeze. Once you are done, label containers with the contents and date. I like using masking tape and a permanent marker.

Remember to make a list of what's in the freezer and tack it onto the fridge. This way, you will remember to eat these healthy delights! The night before you wan to eat them, remove from freezer and place in the fridge to thaw.

Chicken and Quinoa Soup

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 leek, chopped

  • 1 pound free-range chicken, with bones

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 cups chard or kale, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, oregano and salt

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté onion and leek for 15 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown. Splash with apple cider vinegar.

Add the chicken and sauté on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, garlic, ginger, and spices. Stir well. Add the chard, quinoa and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and stir in lemon juice.

Cool and store in portion-sized containers. This soup is a complete meal and serves four. 

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Chicken Breasts Baked in Rosemary Lemon Sauce

You will need:

  • 6 medium chicken breasts with skin

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup almond or cow milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place chicken in an oiled baking dish.

Whisk all ingredients together. Pour over chicken.

Bake skin side up 25- 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Freeze with wild rice pilaf in labeled, portion-sized containers.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Onions, Almonds and Peas

You will need:

  • 1 cup wild rice blend

  • 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon brown mustard

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups peas, fresh or frozen

  • ½ cup organic almonds

Cook rice in 5 cups water or stock. Add a pinch of salt as rice cooks.

Meanwhile, chop onion and cook in olive oil in a deep skillet. Add water to prevent sticking. Add salt, pepper, coriander and mustard. Stir well, close with a lid, and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes, or until golden. Once rice is cooked and onion is golden, mix them together. Add peas and almonds. Stir well to incorporate. 

Freeze with chicken breasts.

Aloo Saag - India-Inspired Potatoes and Spinach

You will need:

  • 4 medium white or red potatoes, boiled until just fork tender

  • 2 teaspoons coriander

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 5 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, roughly chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Boil the potatoes whole. Run them under cold water once they are cooked. Then, cut the potatoes into small wedges.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry until they are golden brown, gently stirring often, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, until each handful is slightly wilted.

Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, stir in the salt and cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid from the spinach has evaporated.

Serve with red lentils but freeze separately.

Red Lentils in a Spiced Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 cups cooked red lentils

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1 bunch kale or collards, chopped

  • 1/3 cup olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin and coriander powders

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • Salt to taste

Bring lentils to a boil with 4 cups water. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and then cook for 30 minutes, or until they are reduced to a soft paste.

Meanwhile, chop onions. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes. Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes. Add lime juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop greens and ginger. Add to skillet. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom. Add the cooked red lentils and ½ cup water. Cover and cook for ½ hour more. 

Freeze separately from aloo saag. Reheat separately and serve together.

Healthy Fats for Well-Being

Did you know that fat doesn't make you fat?

Weight gain occurs when we eat hydrogenated fats or consume carbohydrates without fat. Fats are crucial nutrients that provide up to 10 kilocalories per gram of energy, compared with four kilocalories per gram from carbohydrates and proteins. Fats are not taken up directly by any tissue, but must be hydrolyzed outside the cell first.

When metabolizing fats, the body must use energy, primarily from carbohydrates, to produce energy. One of our essential digestive enzymes, lipase, breaks down fat and helps us use it as energy. Lipases are produced in the pancreas and help digest and transport fats throughout the systems of most living organisms. Fats come from food, adipocytes (fat cells), and some amino acids. Lipolysis, or fat breakdown, occurs in the mitochondria. Next, lipogenesis, or fat synthesis, takes place the liver, adipose tissue, and intestinal mucosa. The fatty acids derived from this process are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates and using them as energy.

When we support our pacreatic enzyme production by eating whole grains instead of processed ones (bread, chips, baked goods) and consuming high quality fats, we also help our bodies use fat for energy and neuro-endocrine balance. Fat maintains cell regulatory signals (essential to combating auto-immune conditions), supple skin, balanced hormonal function, and healthy nervous system response. Without the presence of fat in the system, the body stores carbohydrates as fat because it does not know when it will next gain this essential nutrient.

Healthy fats are essential to our mental, immune, and digestive health. They are also anti-inflammatory and aid in soft tissue recovery. Here are some of the health benefits of high quality, cold-pressed organic fats.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temperature, first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Try these recipes using olive oil.

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Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Try these recipes using sunflower oil.

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Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.

Try these recipes using coconut oil.

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Most of all, take time out to prepare healing food. Rest easy in the knowledge that you are preparing your body, mind and spirit for winter with food as medicine.

Zucchini!

By popular demand, here is a compendium of zucchini recipes to fulfill the summer abundance of this

amazing food.

When I have too much zucchini, I shred it, put it in freezer bags, and freeze it for winter soups and breads.

Zucchini is a member of the cucurbitaceae family (along with pumpkins, melons, and summer squash). It provides a very good amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup); rich in pectin fibers to help regulate blood sugar; reduces inflammation in the cardio-vascular system and gastro-intestinal tract; rich in B vitamins.

Savory Zucchini Cakes

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, coriander, salt

  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded

  • 3 Tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 minced garlic clove

  • ½ cup cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a cookie sheet with olive or sunflower oil.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.

With a soup spoon, scoop out cakes and place them cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip with spatula, bake for 15 more minutes, and savor the results. Try these with quinoa pilaf

.

Grain-Free Zucchini Blueberry Bread

You will need:

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini

  • 1/2 cup blueberries

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 4 tablespoons coconut flour

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

This is great for breakfast topped with poached eggs or almond butter.

Classic Zucchini Walnut Bread

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Delicious. Freezes well.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a cake pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

These make great cupcakes, too! Just place the batter in muffin tins instead of a cake pan. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes instead.

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Foods For Mental Health

At some point in our lives, most of us experience anxiety and / or depression. Here are some foods that can help soothe those responses and bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit.

Herbs and Spices

Chamomile Tea

Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea helps decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks. Drink a cup after dinner. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if you like.

Dark Chocolate

It’s true! The Journal of Psychopharmacology has published a study revealing that people who eat about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (75% or more) per day, feel more calm than those who do not. Just be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine. Be sure to eat it before 3 p.m. to avoid it affecting your sleep.

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Turmeric

Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuro-protective quality and help enhance your mood. These antioxidants are an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. Cook with turmeric powder when you can and take a supplement to support your dietary intake.



Whole Grains

Oats

Oats are high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. They ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.

Brown Rice

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.



High Quality Meat and Fermented Dairy

Full-Fat Kefir & Yogurt

The gut is considered the "second brain" because it's home to 95% of your "feel good" hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, a healthy gut helps manage stress and reduce depression and anxiety. Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry. Kefir, an fermented dairy drink much like liquid yogurt, is a powerful pro-biotic, which contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K for brain health. If you prefer yogurt, choose the full-fat, unsweetened kind (I like Butter Works Farm or Brown Cow Brand). Add maple syrup and home-made granola for a delicious breakfast.

Turkey

This delicious meat is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat has been proven to reduce anxiety. Choose antibiotic-free turkey whenever possible.

Grass-Fed Organ Meats

If you eat meat, grass-fed, organic organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients (like zinc and Vitamin D) needed to reduce anxiety. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for balancing the hormones that regulate mood. Cook chicken or beef liver with onions and purée it in the blender to make a delicious spread.



Vegetables

Asparagus

This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to neurotransmitter impairment and cause anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.

Avocados

These fruits are wonderful for maintaining balanced brain health, thus reducing the stress that leads to anxiety and depression. They contain potassium, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich in beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the nervous system. 

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Leafy Greens

Those who feel stress and anxiety can increase intake of dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens. These plant foods are rich in magnesium, which helps us relax. It also regulates the connection between the brain and endocrine system so that we go out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into relaxation mode.


Fats

Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia and flax seeds, and winter squash can also help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.


Coconut Avocado Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch salt

  • ½ can unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 avocado

Blend well and enjoy!


Vegetable Walnut Cobbler

For the cobbler:

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped

  • 1 packed cups of fresh spinach

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • For the topping:

  • 2 cups quick oats

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, and paprika

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 5 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 1 cup milk of your choosing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes Add spinach, turn off heat, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

Bake the vegetables for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.

For the topping, mix all ingredients together except butter / oil.

Cut butter / oil into chunks in the mixture and gently fold together.

Add milk, mix briefly to incorporate, and set aside.

Remove vegetables from oven, top with clumps of topping mixture, and bake for 20 minutes more.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

GET CREATIVE: Use collards and sweet potatoes instead of spinach and zucchini.

The Journey of a Thousand Miles ...

...begins with a single step.
- Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching

You are at the root of wellness. Each day, you choose it by doing small, simple things for yourself that promote well-being. Non-judgement is an important one for me. I try to notice my choices and have compassion for myself. If I am not happy with the outcome, I remind myself to make a different choice next time.


For example: when I do not eat a protein-packed breakfast, I overeat at dinner and get a stomach ache. Next time, I will try to eat more protein at breakfast.

Here are three simple ways that you can build the foundation for making healthy choices. These suggestions will support you to hear your inner voice and trust your instincts as you navigate the day's events.

Sleep

Most of us need at least seven hours of sleep each day. Sleep improves our vitality and memory, lets our muscles rest so that we can use them effectively tomorrow, and promotes strong immunity and good digestion.

To get better sleep, engage in peaceful activities for an hour before bed. Read, watch a soothing TV show, take a bath, or drink tea and exchange a foot massage with someone in your household. If you meditate, do so for five minutes before sleep. Send yourself love and compassion. Good night!

Eat Wholesome Meals

Whether you make vast changes all at once or take a single step at a time, healthy eating is the foundation of well-being. Small changes add up. Even when I choose to eat something that's not ideal for me (sweet potato fries are my favorite!), I know that my system is resilient enough to handle that choice and bounce back.

Healthy eating looks different for everyone because we are all unique. Here are some healthy eating meal plans you can follow. See whether or not they resonate with you.

Move Your Body

Have fun with movement! As with healthy eating, exercise needs are different from everyone. Some of us need to accelerate our heart rate (not above 140 beats per minute) for 20 minutes 4 times weekly. Some need to train for marathons. Others need gentle stretching, isometric muscle building, and relaxation.
Whatever your needs are, honor them in a way that bring you joy. When we move our bodies, we send them the message that they are useful. This is a key to longevity. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". I can support you in your journey and provide tools and education for you to heal yourself.

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