Tag Archives: recipes

Cold and Flu Season are almost here: How to eat to boost your immune system: Part 1

Ah, October: one of the loveliest months with its fall colors and crisp days: I just love this time of year. I have my Halloween lights up, an orange berry wreath on the front door and candles lit throughout the house, making staying inside cozy and inviting.

Brilliant fall colors on my morning walk: breathtakingly beautiful

Brilliant fall colors on my morning walk: breathtakingly beautiful

But as we all know, fall is also known for an increased incidence of cold and flu viruses. Some of my friends have already been sniffling and coughing so it is time to think about the ways we can boost our immune systems.

As we have talked about in past blogposts, how and what we eat has a significant impact on how our bodies fight infections. Every magazine that I have opened lately has spent some time discussing this so obviously this is an important and timely topic. So what are some of the best foods that we can include in our diet?

Garlic and onions: these odorific foods are members of the lily family and they contain sulfur-containing compounds. One of the most important of these is called allicin, which has both anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties,which can help fight off many types of infections. It is so easy to include these foods in many of the recipes that you make every day: add them to soups, salad dressings, sauces, casseroles for extra flavor and immune boosting power.

Sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squashes and pumpkins are all rich in beta-carotene, which help your body fight off respiratory infections.  Try these in soups, breads, salads or serve them on their own. They are delicious and full of nutrients.

Pumpkin heaven: full of nutrition and wonderful to look at

Pumpkin heaven: full of nutrition and wonderful to look at

Mushrooms are considered to be powerhouses of the immune system and there are so many varieties to try: shitake, maitake, chantrelles, oyster, portobello, lobster, you name it, along with the familiar brown and white button mushrooms.  They help your body fight infections by boosting the activity of your natural killer cells and they are also rich in the mineral selenium, which helps you fight flu viruses. Try sauteeing them in olive oil and season with herbs, add them to soups, salads, omelettes and casseroles.

Yogurt has long been considered a ‘health food’ but often times it has been sold as over-processed and over sugared, a distant cousin from the really healthy kind. Look for yogurt in its natural unprocessed form: it should say that it contains live active cultures, such as S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus and Bifidus and try to buy types that are higher in protein(like Greek yogurt) and low in added sugars. These beneficial bacteria are known as ‘pro-biotics’, which help to restore healthy bacteria to your intestines(back to gut health, once again), which in turn help your body to fight the onslaught of infections that arrive in the fall and winter months.

Part 2 will review some more important foods to include in your daily diet but before I sign off, I want to share one of my favorite and SIMPLE recipes that combines a few of today’s ‘super foods’ : it is full of flavor, protein, immune boosters and easy on your waist.

Kyle’s recipe for Tsatsiki:

2 cups of high quality, high protein yogurt( I prefer Greek style, normal fat content)

1 cucumber: peeled and grated: squeeze out all of the excess liquid

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Stir all of these ingredients together in a bowl.  Cover, chill and let the flavors blend for at least a few hours . Serve with whole grain pita chips or crusty whole grain bread.  Yum! great for watching football games or your favorite latest TV series. Enjoy!

Back again with more foods and recipes. As always, we love to hear from YOU and how you incorporate nutritious foods into your daily lives.

Salud and bon appétit.

Don't forget to enjoy the wonders of fall's beauty each day, as soon the leaves will fall and only the memories will linger

Don’t forget to enjoy the wonders of fall’s beauty each day, as soon the leaves will fall and only the memories will linger

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Re-woman Returns to Confess and Re-balance Her Hormone Resolutions for 2013

A scant year ago in this blog I declared my New Years aspirations to remake my post-menopausal self into a more serene, cleansed, and hormonally balanced version of me. I believe I gave myself the first 30 days of 2012 to become a new woman, a re-woman if you will. Hah! 352 plus days later I am here to report back on the past years’ effort to live up to my aspirations and practice what I preach, followed by an honest as I know how to be, no BS commentary on how I did last year with readjusted expectations for 2013.

2013  Inauguration day

Rewoman and great friend Pamela Bateman (left), founder of the Seventh Woman Foundation (www.theseventhwoman.org) for breast cancer prevention, reinaugurate their pledge to stay (warm) and  balanced at the reinauguration of our 44th President in D.C.!

1) Get into that bed one hour earlier every single night.

Ooops! Well maybe not a total flop …. if you’re a night owl like me you know that getting to bed before midnight is a major feat.  Rewoman confession: I did not live up to the every night part of the aspiration, but did manage to get in bed with a book around 11ish a couple nights of the week. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Lights out by midnight every other night of the week. The earlier bedtimes will lower my cortisol stress hormones to resting levels sooner rather than later, leading to that much coveted deeper sleep and satisfied appetite hormones, thus reducing overeating, cravings and the dreaded result – belly fat!

2) Rise one hour earlier to a cup of green tea instead of coffee.

Green tea is one of the best alternatives to coffee, get to know the different brands….Joy is introducing the Genmaicha powdered version and sharing a cuppa’ with a friend…what could be more healing or stress reducing?

Small triumph: My typical waking time before I made this resolution was 9ish…I now get up about 30 minutes earlier most days, without an alarm clock, now that is progress.  Rewoman confession: I did not convert to the green tea in the morning until just last month when following Kyle’s group cleanse. Good thing I did stop the coffee a week before I went on to do my annual ‘master cleanse’ a detox that can bring on killer headaches, but I never suffered a single one. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Aim for the full hour earlier each day in concert with at least 8 hours of sleep the night before. Studies at Stanford and U. of Chicago observe that “short sleepers,” (defined as 7 hours a night or less) have stress-related hormone imbalances linked to weight gain and higher body fat, a raging appetite, mood swings, memory lapse and low libido.

3) Spend at least 15 to 20 mns. morning and/or evening in stillness: no talking, no electronic stimuli, no nothing – just breathing. (This practice will help me to calm down, FOCUS, and eventually become the most serene woman I have ever met.) Thumbs up: I certainly feel more focused and balanced throughout the day when I spend that first 30 minutes stretching, breathing, sipping or gazing into the distance. Rewoman confession: Well I’m not going to claim I’m the most serene woman I know … but then I have to ask myself how many women I know who describe themselves as serene…perhaps it is the difference between feeling half-crazy and stressed-out when your hormones are out of balance, and the feeling of calm that descends once balance is restored. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Learn to meditate for once and for all, and study up on more deep breathing techniques. Make cultivating stillness my mantra for finding balance within. Also, read: QUIET: the Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.

gaing out

Gaze into the distance, quiet your mind and find balance in silence some part of every day.

4) Rev up my 40-minute walk to 1 hour a day – and walk faster. No lollygagging and no excuses, even if I have to walk in the rain and the dark.  (This will help to humidify my skin and oxygenate my brain and body so that I will live forever, or at least look and feel like I can!) Getting there! I am up to an hour every other day… and exercising on average 6 days a week; it’s become so normal now that I feel completely out of sorts if I miss a day….have so far invested in warm, absolutely waterproof (don’t settle for water resistant especially in wintry climes) pants, gloves, hat with flaps, and am so far so good, perfectly warm and dry. Not only that, by deciding to take all my exercise outdoors I’m saving 160 bucks a month in athletic club dues. Rewoman confession: I have not done strength training or weight bearing exercises consistently enough to build lean muscle, the key to reviving strength stamina and natural hormone supplies as we age. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Join the Sierra Club to get in more hill walking and hikes that will boost my muscle and bone mass, metabolism, mood, memory and even libido. Always room for improvement there!

CandaceRainGearWeb

Re-woman aspires to walking not 6 but 7 days a week, every day in the great outdoors AND stay completely warm and dry…the key is waterPROOF (as opposed to water resistant …it isn’t protective enough if you’re walking in all weather) gear: windbreaker, vest, overalls, gloves, and boots, a warm hoodie and your favorite hat with a brim (essential for rewomen who wear glasses! ) …45 minutes to an hour a day boosts natural hormone levels, mood and muscle!

5) Learn how to make Brussels sprouts taste good! (Adding way more cruciferous vegetables: kale, chard, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage) to my daily diet will help to metabolize excess and/or toxic, i.e. ‘xeno’ estrogens from my body, thus clearing my onward path to natural hormone balance.) Done! was this ever a success thanks especially to all the great recipes YOU readers sent (see Jan. 15, 2012 blog comments for recipes!) Rewoman confession: I have become addicted to Brussels Sprouts.  Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Learn how to make cauliflower mouthwatering…any recipes for this one ladies?

6) Tune out talking heads before bedtime. (This will stop the overstimulation of the 24/7 news cycles and rid my tired brain of useless chatter AND prevent me from becoming one of those people who develops ADHD in her 60s, heaven forbid!) FLOP: Pre-election addiction to the latest news from the campaign trail made me a liar on this aspiration HOWEVER I did find that after following the cleansing fast this past month (and of course after the election was finally over) I did not feel like watching the news much at all. Rewoman Confession: I still watch Washington Week in Review on Friday nights and Meet the Press on Sundays, but I follow it up with Downton Abbey, a real escape from the here and now… makes me wonder how women stuck in the British class system at the turn of the century dealt with their symptoms of menopause? Readjusted aspiration for 2013: No-TV-at-all-nights, at least twice a week. Continue to beat husband at scrabble. Learn Bananagrams. And Chess!

Mind/body balance: part of the equation for all of us

Tune out to practice  balance

7) Reject all foods that are genetically modified and/or any household or personal care products  that contain  pesticides, synthetic hormones, xenoestrogens, antibiotics, or empty calories. (This will significantly reduce my risk of getting indigestion, a fat belly, and a leaky gut, gluten-intolerance, insomnia and hormone imbalance, not to mention diseases of aging like breast cancer!) Challenge: This one is tough since we health care consumers cannot be sure what we are getting…witness the failure of Californians to pass a ballot for GMO modified foods to be labeled as such (in the face of enormous pressure from the likes of Monsanto…but that’s another blog).  At the very least we can inform ourselves to choose foods raised without (make sure the label reads that way) synthetic hormones, RBST, or antibiotics. If you do nothing else, do this! Rewoman Confession: I have on more than one occasion had my hair colored in salons that do not use plant-based dyes and products. In my defense there are not many hair colorists who do use completely non-toxic hair products. Nevertheless this cannot be an excuse. These are toxic chemicals that once slathered on my head, sink into my very tissues, putting me at risk for gawd knows what, hormone imbalance at the very least, and I let it happen! Why? because the color lasts longer. So who is gonna’ last longer if I get cancer after all these years of allowing toxic chemicals to seep into my brain, just because I am not ready to go gray!  Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Never again upon pain of bladder cancer risks, use harsh ‘endocrine disrupting’ (e.g. man-made toxins lethal to normal hormone operating systems) chemicals on my hair; seek out more hair salons that offer organic, ammonia-free, plant-based hair dyes (Google: Aveda and local colorists that use organic hair dyes, bleaches and styling products.)

8) Cancel at least one appointment a week and banish anything, anyone, and everything else in my life that is an unnecessary stressor. (This will enable me to become more authentic and the most stress-free person I could ever hope to meet!) Score: I averaged 2 cancelled appointments a week, have erased at least 3 high-maintenance soul-draining so-called ‘friends’ from my contact list, and changed jobs! Rewoman Confession: I’d been carrying a few dysfunctional relationships  against my better judgment for far too long.  Shedding them at long last feels good, a liberation! Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Choose friends who nourish one’s strengths vs. one’s weaknesses; do not allow what I do to become who I am; and for goodness sake, stop overbooking however well-intentioned!

9) Re-testing my hormones was also on the list for 2012: Check! Rewoman confession: found out through testing that I’d been over-supplementing a bit, so made the necessary adjustments – this  by the way is one of the most important benefits of testing your hormone levels at least once or twice a year, especially when using supplementation, its’ essential to get the dose right!

10) Last but not least, I aspired to redouble my efforts to educate more women and I just might get the chance as I’ve been invited to travel to China to give a talk on hormone balance this March. Evidently this is a topic of interest to women around the world! If YOU have a Re-balance plan you’d like to share, or for that matter, a great mouthwatering cauliflower recipe you can pass on PLEASE sign up to become a follower and comment right here on the blog!! We’re all ears!

Masking the menopause madness

Rewoman behind the scenes:  getting your hormones back in sync can’t be a rehearsal, its a balancing act we practice every day.

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Thank you for asking: ‘the recipes’ and more

Day 7 of this cleanse, feeling pretty darned great, finish line just around the corner. As always, I have learned a lot from taking the time to evaluate my food and beverage choices, what Mark Bittman, author and writer for the NY TIMES, calls ones “personal food policy”. I heard him speak a few weeks ago here in Portland at the inception of a local event known as ‘Portland Feast’ and I was inspired by some of the things he had to say.

Being a cookbook junkie, I of course purchased his cookbook, “The Food Matters Cookbook” and have spent some time reading the introduction and the first few chapters before jumping into the recipes.  He, like Michael Pollan(“In Defense of Food”, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and so on) emphasize the plant-based diet. Pollan’s famous seven word summation of how to eat: ‘eat food(whole food), not too much,  mostly plants’ makes it very simple.  Bittman in his cookbook goes on to give us some basic pointers to guide us each day:

1. Strive to eat fewer animal products than the average American(which is , gulp, 1/2#/day!).

2. Eat as many plants as you can. There is an endless variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds: focus on these.

3.  Be sure to include legumes and grains into your diet every day. Don’t overdo but these will serve as terrific substitutes for animal-based foods.

4. Stay away from processed foods. This is huge. Read your labels. Try to avoid products that have more than 5 ingredients and especially ones with preservatives and things you don’t recognize.

5. All other things should be considered to be a treat. That goes for chocolate(choose the best you can find), wine, beer, occasional desserts and other items not listed above. Consume these in smaller amounts.

Bittman willingly admits that perfection is not an option nor is it a goal but by making small changes(remember how we started this cleanse!), these will add up to larger ones for ourselves and globally.  So this really has been a consciousness cleanse: awareness of how important it is to be aware of what we are feeding our bodies, as well as how our choices affect the planet.

Our precious and beautiful planet

As our bodies age, it is critical that we nourish them with the cleanest diet we can manage. This will help to maintain strong body systems: cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, digestion and endocrine. We really are what we eat after all.

We have had several requests for the recipes that I mentioned using this past week and as promised, here they are. I hope you enjoy them as much as my son Conor and I did. He gave me a big thumbs up, especially on the pumpkin soup and whole grain bread. I would like to give credit to the sources of these recipes. The pumpkin soup one comes from Parade Magazine, Oct 14, 2012 issue.  The bread recipe is from Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook”. The fruit jam was inspired by a recipe in Kim Boyle’s “Good to the Grain” cookbook, a lovely whole grain cookbook. As always when I cook , I made a few changes and noted them below.
BON APPETIT!

Final rose of 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup(serves 6: hmmm maybe….)

1 Tblsp canola oil(I used olive oil)      1 tsp minced garlic     1 tsp curry powder   1 tsp cumin

1 small onion, chopped fine  1/4 tsp cardamon     1/4 tsp salt      1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups chicken broth( I usually make my own but you buy organic broth)

1-15 oz can pumpkin(or make your own if desired)     1-12 oz can evaporated fat free milk(or regular milk)

6 Tblsp Greek yogurt and parsley leaves for garnish(I didn’t find these to be necessary) 

Directions: In large pot, heat oil over medium , add onion cook for 3 minutes until soft, add garlic , cook another minute, add spices , salt and pepper. Cook additional minute, stirring. Next whisk in broth and pumpkin: bring to boil, reduce heat  to low, simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add milk, simmer for several minutes. Last step: using an immersion blender(I used regular one in small batches), puree the soup until smooth. Taste: adjust your spices, salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and if desired, garnish with the yogurt and parsley.

Whole Grain Bread(this is soooo easy)

In large mixing bowl, measure 3 cups of whole wheat flour(I used ww pastry flour but you could use regular WW flour), 2 tsp salt and 1 and 1/2 tsp of yeast. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of warm, not hot, water into the bowl: lightly stir the ingredients together(I also used my hands to mix everything together into a loose mound) and place in draft-free place. Cover with a towel. Let this rise for approx 2 hours.

NOTE: I love salt yet I found that 2 tsp was a bit much so I cut this down to 1 tsp. You may substitute up to 1 cup of the whole wheat flour with another type: I had excellent results with barley and kamut flour. I plan to try rye next. Another time I add 3 Tblsp of coconut sugar to give it a faint taste of sweetness. I think honey would be great as well, but then you might need to adjust the amount of flour: maybe an additional 1/4 cup. 

Once the dough has risen to approx doubled in size, you may punch it down and place in well-oiled loaf pan. Let this rise until over the top of the pan. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven, lightly brushing the top with olive oil and sprinkling with corn meal, if desired.

Option: once the dough as risen in the bowl, you can add up to one cup of cooked grains(millet, oats, quinoa, etc) and mix this in. I tried 1/2 cup cooked millet and 1/2 cup uncooked oats and this was a great choice. You can also mix in nuts, seeds, raisins, olives. Add fresh herbs if desired, approx 1 tsp or to taste. This is a wonderful recipe, very forgiving and easy  to personalize. I made 3 different loaves last week and it has been fun to experiment and see which combinations work best. This is the easiest whole grain recipe I have ever tried.  The cost of making a loaf is minimal and it takes just a few minutes to mix the ingredients together.

Serve fresh hot bread with organic butter/honey/peanut butter/olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plus here is a quick and easy recipe for sugar-free jam.

Dried fruit jam

Place 1 and 1/2 cup dried fruit into small saucepan. Add 1 cup fruit juice. Bring to boil, cover, turn off flame. Let sit for approx 30 min or until the dried fruit has plumped up. Using immersion blender, puree until fairly smooth. Store in closed container in the fridge.

Note: in Kim Boyle’s cookbook she recommends pitted prunes with orange juice. I have also tried prunes and mango juice. I think it would be fun to try dried cherries and apple or orange juice; dried apricots and mango or orange juice. Experiment and find what flavor combinations that you like best.

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