Category Archives: Essentials

Health, happiness and hormone balance is easy by the numbers! You’ll love Kyle’s and Candace’s lists of essentials for an easy way to keep your healthy priorities in mind.

Now what was I coming into this room for???(musings on keeping your memory sharp)

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of "Menopaws"

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of “Menopaws”)

I would bet that most of you have experienced at least one moment of wondering why the heck you wandered into a room…..and then just stood there looking around in hopes that some sort of message would magically appear reminding you of your purpose. I cannot tell you how many times that has happened to me but I can say it has happened far too often.  I am also going to assume that most of you are concerned with memory loss and the possibility of dementia and/or Alzheimers as you age.  As many of us are destined to live longer lives, it becomes more likely that our minds will age along with our bodies: a scary thought indeed. Ah, but there are many strategies available to us in our quest to keep our minds and memories sharp as we age. Gracefuly aging in all aspects of our lives is the key to living a higher quality and quantity of life.

So let’s review some of the strategies that we have at our disposal to keep our minds sharp and our memories intact as we do begin to age.  I heard a wonderful piece this morning on NPR that talks about some of the latest research re: memory and the best ways to make sure that we stretch and grow new neuronal connections as we get older, which will enhance our ability to keep learning, stay vibrant and store new memories as well.

http://www.npr.org/2014/05/05/309006780/learning-a-new-skill-works-best-to-keep-your-brain-sharp?ft=1&f=3

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

In addition, getting regular exercise is another pillar of memory strength. I have always loved to work out in some form or another(running in my 20’s and 30’s, walking regularly since then, swimming, pretending to play golf(seriously that is one fun but frustrating sport!), hiking, and skiing.  I took up tennis almost 2 years ago and it has been a blast. There is quite a learning curve involved and I am definitely still climbing up that curve but it has forced me to think while I build new muscle memory. There have been some studies that promote this kind of thinking while exercising as one of the better ways to build memory, but any aerobic and active type of exercise enhances the brain’s potential for learning and storing new information. The most important thing is to just get out there and get active. Here is a link to the importance  between exercise and brain health:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Vitamin D also plays a role in brain health and cognitive strength. According to Dr. Oz, “Scientists hypothesize that improved cognition may be linked to the sun’s effect on the body’s internal clock; exposure to daylight(natural vitamin D) may boost the production of the neurotransmitter seritonin, which in turn spurs growth of the hippocampus, that part of the brain crucial to forming and storing memories.” He recommends( as do I) that every day we should go outside and spend between 15-20 minutes  before applying sunscreen so that our bodies can make Vitamin D ourselves. In general, we still do need to take additional vitamin D: more on that in a future blogpost. Bottomline, make sure you get outside every day possible as this will help both your brain and your mood.

Adequate sleep also clearly has an effect on our memory. Most of us(myself included, far too: often, mea culpa) get far too little of this precious activity most days.  In general, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended to help our bodies and our brain to restore and rejuvenate. Think of sleep as time to recharge your battery. I imagine you have the same reaction that I do when I see that dreaded message on my cell phone: “less than 20% battery” and I have left my cord at home: panic! I usually feel the same way towards the end of a busy work day when I stayed up and out too late the night before and I am dragging, just not as sharp as usual. Note to self: get more sleep.

A baby seal taking a 'catnip' on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

A baby seal taking a ‘catnip’ on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

One more memory/brain potential robber: STRESS!!! We have touched on this in previous blogposts but briefly, when we are under stress(prolonged, frequent, unrelenting stress), cortisol is released to help our body fight “the attacker”, real or perceived.  Unfortunately, this adaptive response often leads to a maladaptive state, leaving our mind and body depleted. The result: poorer learning capability and difficulty storing new memories. Studies of inner city children, faced with the stresses of poverty, crime, poor nutrition and inadequate social support, have shown over and over how difficult it is to try to learn in school when under chronic stress. The same concept applies to all of us, whatever our stresses may be.  So managing your stress is something each of us must learn to do.  Think exercise, meditation, eating whole foods, making time for yourself, your family, your friends, take regular vacations, prayer…more work is not usually the answer…

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress.  Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress. Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

I haven’t touched on everything that can impact your memory but these are some of the more powerful things that you can work on.  Obviously eating whole foods diet and balancing your hormones are both essential for brain health as well. Hopefully that goes without saying if you have been reading our blog for awhile.

As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas . Stay tuned as Candace and I are getting ready to do some webinars together starting in July. We will provide the links for these so that you can log in and listen.

To building  great memories…..and remembering them, LOL.

 

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Breaking news: Butter is back!

For all of you who have given up eating butter thinking 1. it is bad for you and 2. eating it will make you fat, take note: we, the American people , have been fed(pun intended) a whole lot of misinformation about what is good for us and what is unhealthy since around the 1970’s, maybe even earlier. As we have discussed in previous posts, it is just so confusing to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to healthy eating.  What is someone who needs to , and perhaps loves to , eat to do????

It just gets so confusing sometimes: how to choose healthy foods….

It just gets so confusing sometimes: how to choose healthy foods….

I guess it always comes back to basics, like most things in life. Personally, I have often been quite skeptical that food that comes from a NATURAL source and that is close to that natural state could possibly be bad for us when eaten in moderation. Honestly, how did eggs become so demonized for so long? For a long time, all we heard about in the media was that eating eggs leads to high cholesterol and heart disease. That just never made sense to me. Eggs are loaded with nutrients: one egg contains 75 calories, 5 grams of fat(1.6 grams saturated fat: the good kind, by the way), iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids(believed to prevent macular degeneration). It also contains disease-fighting nutrients and choline, which enhances brain development and memory. Hmmm, now how are eggs bad for you, unless you perhaps are allergic to them? Of course, we always recommend that you consume products that are organically raised and locally produced whenever possible for optimal wellness and a smaller environmental footprint.

So getting back to the butter controversy. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s when margarine was all the rage. I never liked it personally and couldn’t wait to go to my Ukrainian grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn where she kept unsalted butter on a plate in her kitchen: soft to spread and yummy to eat on her freshly baked loaves of Challah: a little slice of heaven. A far cry from margarine spread on a piece of Wonder bread or a Thomas’s English muffin(delicious but devoid of any real nutritional value). Funny thing is, my grandmother also had Velveeta in her apartment: what is that ‘cheese food product’ even made of that it can sit on a shelf unrefrigerated for years??? I did love it though as a kid: there was something almost magical about it, probably because my mom, who did stock margarine and TV dinners , would never allow us to have it at home.  A little bit of parental wisdom here: if you want your kids to eat something, make it a forbidden food: that will almost always guarantee that they will want it: the old reverse psychology trick.

As soon as I moved out on my own, I was able to make my own choices in terms of food purchases and I made the permanent switch to butter: usually unsalted because I love the flavor that comes through. And I have never given it up, despite all of the so-called research warning us of its link to cardiac disease. Again, I just didn’t buy it: it comes from milk, milk comes from a cow: and cows are animals, real live creatures, not products that are processed, wrapped up tightly and put on a shelf.

Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers, published a recent article in the NY Times : “Butter is Back” which does a terrific job of explaining why this is so:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/opinion/bittman-butter-is-back.html?_r=0

So this is great news for all of you foodies out there and those of you need help making healthy eating choices. Of course, as the article states, eat butter in moderation, especially if you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  Always buy the best quality of food that you can afford, because quality really does matter. I always like to use Michael Pollan’s quote about who to eat in a health manner as a simple reminder: “Eat food(whole food), not too much, mostly plants”. If you follow this simple rule, not only will you achieve your optimal weight but you will feel fantastic AND know that you are enhancing your health overall.

3 old favorites: back in your diet again

3 old favorites: back in your diet again

Oh, and before I forget: another piece of wonderful news came out this week: Salt is also okay: more about that later. So I am going to feel really good when I eat my favorite TV watching snack: Freshly popped, on the stove of course, popcorn with butter and salt: I always called it my guilty pleasure but I guess I don’t need to feel so guilty about it after all.

Bon appétit!

 

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Going gluten-free: what you need to know

In my last post, I talked about some of the issues surrounding the consumption of gluten and wheat and why someone might consider going without for awhile. As you may remember, I am going to go gluten-free myself for 21 days starting on March 1st ,which is a mere 5 days away. Gluten tends to be rather ubiquitous, hiding in not only foods(like black and red licorice, I just discovered) but also in makeup, toothpaste, personal health care items and prescriptions.

In November, I attended an all-day seminar on gluten-related disorders put on by Nadine Grzeskowiak, a nurse who discovered that she herself had serious health consequences from gluten consumption. Once she eliminated it from her diet, her quality of life changed so much that she started to devote herself to educating others on this topic. You can find out more about her and her programs at http://www.GlutenFreeRN.com.

Going gluten-free can feel a bit daunting if you have never really thought about it but it is also extremely manageable to do so. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest are particularly lucky as we have a wide choice of health-conscious stores to choose from . During the past few weeks, I have been perusing the aisles and have amassed a nice selection of gluten-free grains(remember I love to bake and cook) and things that I can snack on. The choices are amazing!  I have ‘practiced’ going gluten-free for a few days at a time and I can honestly say that it has not been very difficult. I know that I will miss Italian focaccia bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as New York style pizza….but I will live and not only that, I will thrive: of that I am certain. Perhaps I will even discover something without gluten that I will love as much: one can only hope.

Okay, here goes: the lists of what you can and cannot eat if you are choosing to join me. These lists are gleaned from “Wheat Belly” and Nadine’s workshop and may not include everything that you CAN eat but I believe that they do list everything that you cannot eat. I always advise my patients who are adopting this lifestyle change to pick up a book on this topic AND to take a ‘gluten-free’ tour in their local Whole Foods/ New Seasons -type grocery store.

What to avoid: Wheat, Spelt, Seitan, Semolina, Couscous, Durum,  Kamut, Bulfar, Farina, Emmer, Graham, Barley, Malt, Rye and Oats(there are gluten-free oats available by the way: more about that later)

What you CAN eat: vegetables, fruits, organic meats, fish, nuts, seeds, rice, corn , potatoes, beans, dairy , ‘safe grains’: this includes nut flours(such as almond, chestnut, coconut, pecan and hazelnut), grain flours(rice, corn, millet, sorghum , teff and quinoa), legume flours(peanut, lava and chickpea), seed flours(amaranth and buckwheat: yes buckwheat is NOT a wheat), tuber flours(potato, tapioca and arrowroot).

Some of the many choices available to bake with gluten

Some of the many choices available to bake with gluten

Something else you should know is that according to Dr. Davis(author of ‘Wheat Belly’),the tuber flours in particular can raise your blood sugar. This is particularly important if you already know that you have insulin resistance or are hoping to lose some weight by adopting a gluten-free diet. Before buying something, read the label and decide if this product is right for you.

If you are a baker, you can make your own gluten-free baked goods and know exactly what is in each item.  I am excited to try some new recipes in the gluten-free world as there are some delicious substitutes already out there. Here in Lake Oswego we have one of the best GF bakeries around: Kyra’s. The owner actually won a baking contest against bakers that cooked the traditional way. I have tasted her cinnamon rolls and cupcakes, which were simply amazing. Again, switching out sweets that are gluten-free for those that contain it will not be part of a weight-loss plan, but living without any treats forever is not a realistic goal for most of us and it is lovely to know that there are suitable choices for a gluten-free lifestyle.

There are some excellent mail-order sources for gluten-free products(like oats). Two that immediately come to mind are Bob’s Red Mill,located in Portland, and Lingonberries Market, which is located in Vancouver, WA. If you happen to live in the Portland metro area, take a trip to both of these stores to see the incredible selection of delicious gluten-free choices that are available. Otherwise, go to their websites and do your shopping online. Once you gain awareness of how many great choices you still have,  I promise that you will not feel deprived in any way.

Some of my new favorite snacks

Some of my new favorite snacks

So if you are joining me, take inventory of the things you have in your fridge and cupboards and make room for the new foods that you will be eating. I will be sharing some of my observations and recipes with you and I hope that you will do the same.  A toast(gluten-free of course) to healthy eating and living!

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Gluten: what is all the fuss about anyway????

Isn’t it amazing how hard it is to make sustainable changes in your diet and/or exercise program between all of the holidays and celebrations that just seem to keep coming? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE holidays, birthdays, parties for no apparent reason, book club meetings, happy hour, after-work get-togethers, lunches with friends: my point is that there never seems to be a ‘perfect time’ to try to create some new habits. I have been thinking about this long and hard as 2014 has started and is now well under way(almost 1/6 th over, how did that happen???). Lately I have been immersing myself into reading about gluten/wheat/inflammation/belly fat. I am just about done reading the excellent book “Wheat Belly” by cardiologist William Davis, MD. In addition, I recently attended a terrific conference on gluten and I am getting more and more convinced that for some of us, gluten can cause some significant health problems.

My beautiful birthday group: yet another celebration!

My beautiful birthday group: yet another celebration!

Candace and I are both fascinated by the links between diet, hormone balance and weight issues. This has become quite a hot topic in the last few decades.  There is so much information that it can be overwhelming for most of us to sort through: which diet is best?:  low-fat, low carb, high protein, no grains, no sugar, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo: the list is endless and the media is constantly profiling contradictory studies about each of these programs, therefore adding more confusion to the mix.

Obviously, there is not one diet type that fits everyone on this planet. Each of us is born with a certain ‘genotype’, or genetic code, that determines about 30% of who we are and how healthy we will be. The great news, however, is that our ‘phenotype'(how we look and who we are, in terms of personality, health and everything else you can think of) is shaped by our environment and the choices we make. In other words, we have a great deal of say in who we become and what level of health we can reach and maintain. 

Making the right choices when you eat is pivotal to how healthy you look and feel

Making the right choices when you eat is pivotal to how healthy you look and feel

Getting back to gluten and wheat: what we now know is that the wheat that we consume now compared to what we consumed 50 years ago is very different. There has been a push to make the grains that we eat grow faster(leading to greater yields of crops, i.e. more profit for the farmers and all involved in the food supply chain). The wheat we now consume has between 50 and 500% greater gluten content than what was available a mere half century ago. Why is this important? Studies have shown that an individual consuming present-day wheat has a jump in blood glucose(sugar) higher than when then that same person eats white sugar. This is very alarming indeed.

Here is a quick overview of what happens when your blood sugar goes up after eating: Your body can do only 3 things with an elevated blood sugar: use it as energy, store it as glycogen in the liver or store it as fat. Well, guess what? If you are consuming more calories than what you are burning, you don’t need the glucose for energy. In addition, your body can only store so much as glycogen, so the majority gets stored as fat. Insulin is the hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to an elevated blood glucose and allows your body to use the glucose(and store it as fat). Over time, if your body is continually bombarded by a rise in blood sugar, your insulin becomes resistant and you need more of it to utilize the glucose, leading to more fat storage: this becomes quite a vicious cycle! Once your body becomes insulin resistant, it is harder to lose weight, something we hear all the time: “I just don’t eat that much and I cannot seem to lose weight, especially around my middle”. Eventually insulin resistance leads to Type II Diabetes, a road that you would rather not go down if you can avoid it.  And you can: that is the excellent news. By changing your diet and your exercise routine, you can return to the path towards optimal weight and hormone balance.

You can look and feel wonderful when your hormones and diet is balanced

You can look and feel wonderful when your hormones and diet is balanced

So is going gluten-free for you? Honestly, I cannot answer that and I don’t know if it has a huge impact on me. What I DO know is that many of the women that I see as patients have given up gluten, either by my or someone else’s recommendation, and the effect for many has been profound. I am going to ask several of them to write some comments about what happened to them individually, as I think that will be more powerful than hearing it from me. Briefly, they have noticed weight loss, clearer skin and thinking, increased energy, loss of belly fat and an overall sense of well-being. If it sounds too good to be true, it is not. For the millions of people who are gluten intolerant, giving it up can be a game changer. My goal is to go off of gluten completely starting March 1st and stay off for 21 days.  Please feel free to join me, as so many of you have in the past with our ‘consciousness cleanses’. It is nice to have company when embarking on a new way of eating and it will be fun to see what we notice individually and as a group.

Stay tuned: more info to come on what you can and cannot eat. But don’t worry: there is still an amazing selection of food out there that is without gluten. We will eat well and hopefully we will notice some significant differences in how we look and feel.

That's me inside of a 1000 year old plus tree: now that's sustainable living!

That’s me inside of a 1000 year old plus tree: now that’s sustainable living!

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This year is ‘the year’ that I am going to….

Happy 2014 to all of our wonderful readers and followers. Candace and I have been blogging together for 2 years and this is the year that we are hoping to take a synopsis of our book, with several chapters written  up in the format we think will be the most readable and visually lovely, to a perspective publisher and see what happens. We realize that there are scores of books written on the top of hormone balance but we think we have a unique perspective and style that is not only accessible, but that resonates with our readers. We have punted around many ideas(you have no idea how many!!) from publishing an e-book, to self-publishing, to throwing in the towel(gasp) ….But we keep coming back to the idea of a real, hold in your hand, prop on your shelf, cuddle up in your bed, kind of book as that is what WE like and what most of our friends/family members/patients/colleagues/acquaintance turn to for the kind of content we are offering. So we would like to hear from YOU: what do you like about our blog, what have been some of your favorite topics, what haven’t we covered that you want to know more about?? Of course we value your honesty as that will help us write a better book so please give us your ‘from the heart’ feedback. We will keep you posted as to our progress, but that is MP’s overriding goal for this year.

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one's goals….)

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one’s goals….)

What have YOU been saying that you hope to do, to change, to re-invent, to re-consider, to move towards or perhaps away from, in this coming year?  Every newspaper and magazine that I have opened this past week had something about weight loss, exercising more, eating cleaner, etc but one thing I did notice that was different this year was the wording of the articles. Almost every one alluded to the concept that our goals should be towards making sustainable changes, not radical ones. To do that , it helps to make small changes, ones that you can stick to (like our 10 day ‘consciousness cleanses’, something anyone can do and benefit from): not saying , “I will NEVER eat potato chips and sour cream again after work(one of my personal favorite guilty pleasures…)” because that is just never going to happen. It is so much more realistic to write down what you hope to accomplish and then identify the obstacles, your strengths, a timeline and then formulate a plan. We will keep coming back to this topic in the upcoming weeks and months but I just want to leave you with a few simple thoughts as you think about the year ahead.

1. It DOES matter what you eat. This is probably the single most important thing that you do each day in terms of supporting or hurting your body. You can exercise until the cows come home, but if you are eating a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, calorie dense/nutrient poor foods(most of these come in a box/can/or a wrapper, by the way), you will gain weight in all the wrong places and you will not achieve optimal fitness….or fit into those favorite pair of jeans.

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

2.Follow the wise words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food(WHOLE food), not too much, mostly plants”. Do this and you will see results, sustainable ones.

3. Spend a few minutes each day being grateful for the wonders of your body. Focus more on how your body feels and how it does whatever you ask it to do day after day, a miracle in and of itself.  Take care of your body: feed it whole foods, clean water, take it out for a walk, a jog, a hike, expose it to natural vitamin D and the elements like the wind, the rain, the snow. Take note of how alive you feel when you have spent some time outside or just being active. Your body will thank you by continuing to do what you ask of it and by sticking around for awhile.

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

4. Take time to sleep, to rest and to restore yourself. You need this more than you know(see Candace’s last post).

5. Make time for play, for love, for friendship, for prayer and meditation, for doing the things you love to do, for visiting someone who needs you to be there. Life often goes by in a blur so paying attention each day to the moments that matter and making time for the things that matter to you is crucial for living a life that has meaning.

Our conversation will continue. We look forward to writing to you and hearing from you in the upcoming year. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We so appreciate all of you.

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

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At the finish line: day 10

Wow, well that went by pretty fast,  in retrospect anyway. Here it is, day 10 of the fall consciousness cleanse and I made it: phew! There were some challenges, some moments, when I almost caved in….. but just knowing that I am accountable to all of you kept me going when my own will/wantpower wasn’t quite enough.

This last weekend was probably the hardest for me in terms of not having that evening glass of wine so I purposely kept my days(evenings) clear of extra social gatherings. I did go to one party last week and then out with my friend Chris(who also successfully has made it through: today is her day 11!). Instead of wine, I had some perrier and water and it felt great.

So what have I noticed after 10 days without caffeine, alcohol, sugar and the whites? First of all,  my sleep was deep, filled with dreams and I woke up refreshed each morning(sometimes I was wide awake 20 minutes before my alarm clock and could just enjoy those last stolen minutes before getting out of bed). Second, my energy was more even throughout the day and particularly in the early and late afternoon. Previously, I often would reach for a cup of coffee at around 2 pm to fight the urge to take a nap, which doesn’t fit into my work schedule, imagine that! Third, I felt more satisfied and full after a meal filled with clean foods, each one a bundle of powerful nutrients. I stopped craving anything sweet after a few days, although by day seven I could have snarfed down some lovely rich chocolate. Instead I tried a new fruit, a persimmon: wow, is that one sweet and yummy fruit. Fourth, although I consider myself somewhat of a foodie, I pushed myself to try new things: quince, persimmons, carrot chips for starters. I also discovered some new teas for my collection:  sugar cookie sleigh ride(sounds decadent: it’s not!),sugar plum spice, pumpkin spice and several new green teas.  Fifth, my clothes are looser as my weight dropped between 3 and 4 pounds, which I really noticed around my middle: that dreaded menopot!

Overall, my mood was even, my energy great and my body feels strong and ready to gear up for the holidays. Most of all, I feel empowered in knowing that I CAN DO THIS when I set my mind and soul to it. I have heard from quite a few of you who went all for the ride, some of you the entire way, some for just a portion. However much you did, congratulations for even thinking about it, as thoughts become words, words become actions, and actions lead to results. Remember that small changes cause big shifts, in your thinking, in your eating and drinking patterns, in your hormone balance, in you and in your life.  Thanks for all of your feedback(sometimes people prefer to email rather than comment on the blog: soon we will have a Facebook page which many find easier to communicate through). We love hearing from you and sharing our knowledge and experiences back and forth.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, delicious food and beverages, relaxation and much to be grateful for. Take a few minutes to think of all that you are grateful for: the list is often endless and it helps to remember all of the blessings in our lives and to be present and grateful. That is the magic of Thanksgiving: a day with no gifts, no cards, just a day to share and enjoy one another.

My beautiful family: of whom I am most grateful

My beautiful family: of whom I am most grateful

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Day 5: halfway there

Okay, so that went by pretty fast. Hard to believe that we are almost 50% through our fall cleanse. I have to admit that there were a few moments when I yearned for a bite of chocolate or a chunk of French bread dunked in some yummy olive oil, or a nice glass of a full-bodied red wine on one of these cold fall evenings we have been having this week. But it feels good to stay focused on eating and drinking in a cleaner way for this time, particularly with the coming of the holidays, when I know I will indulge from time to time!

As I was shopping at New Seasons today(our local healthy supermarket), I wandered around snapping photos of the wide array of choices that are available to consume. I have had fun experimenting with various kinds of squashes and just today I bought a persimmon: any thoughts on how to eat one of these??? Last weekend I bought 2 quinces after hearing someone on NPR talk about how she had made them for her children, who loved them. I tried to replicate how she prepared them and honestly, they taste great!

What is a quince, you might wonder? Me too actually until just a few days ago. I have heard of them in English novels but honestly, I cannot remember ever trying one. So I took the 2 quinces home, washed them and placed them in a pot, covered them with water , brought it to a boil and cooked them until they were quite tender. Quinces when raw are quite hard and super tart and not very palatable, I would imagine. However, once they are cooked through(give it at least 30-45 minutes), it is easy to cut off the stem and remove the small seeds. Next I placed them in a food processor, added 1/4 cup of coconut sugar, a 1/2 tsp of cardamon and 3/4 tsp of cinnamon, pureed them and voila!  a lovely fruit sauce, similar in texture to applesauce but with a completely unique and wonderful flavor.

Of course my curiosity led me to do a little research on the benefits of quince: wow! These are some power-packed little fruits. They were known as ‘golden apples’ in ancient times and are loaded with nutrition and vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting substances. Quinces are full of fiber(I kept the peel on in the recipe that I just shared: no reason to peel it, by the way), tannins that bind to cancer causing chemicals in the intestine(helpful in fighting colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticultis), vitamin C, copper and many other minerals and it is believed to very beneficial in fighting allergies and inflammation. Who knew?

That is one of the many benefits of paying closer attention to one’s consumption: it forces us out of our comfort zones and gently encourages us to try new things. I hope you have had some of your own food adventures this past week. Looking forward to the next  5 days.

Wishing you health and balance and lovely foods to eat.

SQUASH: a lovely autumn treat: delicato is fast becoming one of my favorites

SQUASH: a lovely autumn treat: delicato is fast becoming one of my favorites

My produce bowl: the persimmon is the light orange fruit: what to do with it???

My produce bowl: the persimmon is the light orange fruit: what to do with it???

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