Tag Archives: anti-inflammatory

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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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Christmas 2012 in Balance: The Essential Gift List

Xmas ME

Christmas is one of those GOOD stress times I like to think of as  the  spice of life!

The holiday rush is upon us and I like everyone else I know find myself in a constant rush to fit in the shopping, the parties, and the round of Christmas craft fairs, concerts, and happy hours with friends. Actually I’m having far too much fun this season, but on top of work and chores, aging parents, aging dogs (who have lately forgotten they’re house trained), aging knees, and an empty nest (which is about to fill back up to overflowing just as we were getting used to it)….well it takes it’s toll. But far from complaining, oh no, ho, ho, I am simply stating a fact: Christmas time can be a stressful time!! Mostly GOOD stress, one hopes, but stress none-the-less.

So my challenge this season is to stay cool in the midst of all the holiday chatter and cheer, to keep Jingle Bell Rock from getting stuck inside my head, and to find gifts for my favorite people that  rather than cluttering their closets may help to unclutter their lives. In mulling this over, I keep arriving back at one of  Menopausibilities’ essential truths: It’s about BALANCE.  That’s it.  That’s all that stands between me and overeating, overworking, overspending, and overdoing the Yuletide. So with mantra in mind I hereby resolve that the only gifts I will give a moments consideration to this Christmas are those that speak to me of balance. Gifts meant to calm, soothe, enlighten, and rebalance the health, hormones, and lives of those I love best in all the world. Mature woman holding gift, portrait

Thus follows my very own Speak to Me of Balance Christmas Gift List for 2012. Hopefully my growing hodgepodge of favorites will speak to YOU of balance or help spark your own ideas:

MASSAGE: A gift certificate for a one hour massage, or even a 15 minute chair massage 2x a week studies tell us, can calm the sympathetic nervous system and lower stress levels significantly.

FLOAT: this is the act of suspending oneself voluntarily in a tank filled with warm water and Epsom salts for about 90 minutes in a darkened room! Hmmm… the idea being to block all sensory input so that sans the constant pressure of analyzing the world around you, your body lowers its levels of stress hormones while the neurotransmitters of happiness rise and the mind comes out to play. Fans of FLOAT say the 90 minutes go by fast when you’re in a state of “otherworldly relaxing.” (www.floathq.com for Portlanders – floatation.com for everyone else!)

Man examining his physique in the mirror

Dave and the after-effects of a “hot” yoga session: more strength and stamina, less spare tire!

YOGA: the essentials of stretching and deep breathing release tension, lower stress hormones, and among other things boost lung function.  More oxygen translates to relaxed muscles with fewer aches and pains, better mood and memory. The Bikram version performed in 100+degrees is a form of ‘hot’ yoga that has its’ followers, my own husband among them!

Gift certificate to Aveda Hair Salons  among the very few I have found that use natural plant-based hair dyes and products. Its about time….we need to give ourselves a break from the toxins in most chemical hair dyes that turn into bad estrogens and throw hormones out of whack.

Grayce Root Revive – this is a real lifesaver between colorings: a fragrance-free, naturally pigmented hair powder that can be brushed in as a temporary touch up for gray grow out. And I can tell you, it does the trick. Not only that, by reducing my visits to the hair stylist I’m reducing my exposure to the bad chemicals in hair dyes. www.graycerootrevive.com

Arbonne’s Instant Lift Gel (my secret weapon for looking the best I can for my age) and any of the RE9 line of anti-aging, plant-based, toxin-free, cosmetic and skin care products from this visionary Swiss company. www.arbonne.com to find a consultant in your town.

A year’s membership to the Sierra Club is available right now for 15 bucks at www.sierraclub.org. Check out their awesome range of outings: day hikes, peak scrambles, bicycling, cross-country skiing, bird-watching, conservation-walks, or forays into the remaining natural areas of our major cities. What better way to stop living in your head and start living in your body!!

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

Kyle in a moment of balance, halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

By the way, walking may be the single best and easiest exercise you can do to get healthy, or even healthier in 2013. In a recent Wake Forest Medical Center study, women who walked one to two miles 3 times a week shrank abdominal fat cells by a whopping 18 percent in four months. By the way, researchers did not find the same effects  in those who dieted but did not walk.

Woman  jogging

Walking or belly fat? Its a no-brainer.

Walking gear: warm hat with ear flaps and a must-have brim (for those of us who wear glasses), waterproof pants and anorak so there is no excuse not to exercise in the great outdoors no matter the weather. A growing disconnect with the natural environment has been linked in a host of studies to obesity and related “diseases of indoor living”.

Pedometer – taking 5000 steps or fewer daily is considered sedentary. Track your steps wearing a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps, which is considered active.

Dance classes – Speaking of making it to 10,000 steps a day, I wonder how many you can accumulate in a dance class? My daughter Jess just told me that she and her boyfriend recently signed up for lessons after realizing how out of step they were on the dance floor at a friends wedding  …from the waltz to the rumba they are now learning to move in synchrony. Just like hormones in balance!  www.arthurmurray.com

Soul balancing:  Beading, needlepoint, glass making, painting or cooking classes. Whatever speaks to you of creativity! This I know for sure: you can’t worry or distract yourself with internal chatter while stringing beads one at a time. And what better gifts than those made by hand for the particular person in mind.

Last but not least, let’s not forget the balancing presence of all presents: Red wine, Green tea and Dark chocolate – all in moderation but loaded with adaptogenic herbs, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties that keep hormones in balance and our immune systems humming along.

An example of a delicious rich organic dark chocolate

A square or two of organic dark chocolate speaks to me of balance! Not to mention that it raises serotonin, the pleasure hormone!

So did I get everything? What about tickets to the theater, an upcoming concert, or art exhibit for a friend who needs the gift of time. If money is no object a week away at a spa where nothing but fresh, organic, hormone-free foods go into your body, and nothing but peace and quiet into your mind. And on that thought I shall wind down my own thoughts ….still on a roll but not in a rush.

African American couple leaving concert hall

The gift of time to enjoy the best life has to offer, especially at Christmas!

Next post I’ll share our Menopausibilities best picks for books to help balance body, mind and spirit just in time for Christmas. In the meantime please LIKE us or comment on the blog to share any great ideas you come up with for gifting balance to the people you love best in all the world.

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Eat more chocolate and weigh less????

A recent study published at the University of CA at San Diego noted that people who ate chocolate 5 times a week had a BMI(body mass index) that was one point lower than individuals who did not regularly consume chocolate. A one point change in BMI is actually significant: for someone who stands 5’7″, that represents a 5 pound weight difference.
This was an observational study that looked at 1018 healthy individuals aged 20-85 and included both men and women. This cohort ate a nutritious, balanced diet and exercised regularly. The study gathered its data via a questionnaire which asked the participants “How many times/week do you eat chocolate?”(no distinction was made as to the particular type of chocolate consumed). In general it was noted that the individuals who ate chocolate actually consumed more calories than the group who did not.

So many different choices of chocolate to choose from: here is just one section of an aisle at the Whole Foods Market In Austin, TX



So what is going on here??? Several theories have emerged to explain why this occurred. First, chocolate contains compounds called polyphenols. The ones that are in chocolate in particular can inhibit pancreatic lipase, which is an enzyme that is responsible for digesting fat. This action has been observed in test tubes and in mice only so far and showed that after consumption, chocolate exits the body before its calories can be absorbed. This explains one possible mechanism of action. Another explanation is that chocolate contains compounds that actually increase the energy that cells produce, resulting in an increase in metabolic rate.
An additional health benefit of eating chocolate is that is contains anti-oxidants called flavenoids. These flavenoids are anti-inflammatory, lower blood pressure, improve vascular functioning, affect metabolism and increase insulin sensitivity.
Of course, chocolate consumption should not be unlimited, as there is clearly a point where some of these health benefits will be negated by consuming too many calories and in some cases, too much sugar. Recommendations for optimal health are to eat one ounce of dark chocolate a day or add cocoa powder to a beverage.
Of note, this study was NOT funded by the chocolate industry, but rather by the NIH(National Institute of Health), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the UCSD Clinical Research Center. And although this particular study didn’t differentiate between the types of chocolate consumed, dark chocolate contains higher levels of anti-oxidants and it is always healthier to choose organically produced chocolate. I have to admit I still love a high quality milk chocolate(Lindt is my personal favorite) but I have grown to appreciate rich, full-bodied and dense dark chocolates.

An example of a delicious rich organic dark chocolate

So enjoy some chocolate, in moderation of course, and feel just a little less guilty when you do. And please share some of YOUR personal favorite brands, as well as any wonderful chocolate recipes.
Bon appétit!

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness