Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World's Best Raw Burritos

Do you ever walk around the produce section of your local grocery store or farmer's market and think to yourself that all the green leafy stuff just kind of looks the same, even though they have different names? I had a little chat with a woman the other day who saw me picking and bagging up a few different leafy greens. She asked me what I did with it all and wouldn't a pre-made salad mix be just as good? Umm. No. 

While the green leafy veggies may look similar and be grouped together when talking about healthy eating ("Eat lots of green, leafy vegetables!"), the truth is that each of them provides its own unique phytonutrients that help our bodies to function at optimal levels. So, while spinach and kale, for example, are two nutritional powerhouses of the greens family, they can't cover all the bases just on their own. That's why it's a great idea to mix up your use of greens and eat a wide variety of them.

Let's talk about swiss chard. 

As of this writing, research has revealed that chard leaves have at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants. One of these, syringic acid, is able to regulate blood sugar by limiting the amount of carbohydrates that get broken down into simple sugars. Betalains are also among the phytonutrients in chard, providing antioxidant, ant-inflammatory and detoxification support. 

So, do you need swiss chard as a regular part of your diet?

Yes, without question.

Here's a recipe that has been very popular with my family and friends, and I love it because it's easy to make, versatile, surprisingly filling and absolutely delicious. For the filling, I use whatever veggies I have in the house or in my garden. Today, I filled the raw burrito with carrots, purple cabbage, sunflower seed sprouts, cucumbers and raw pine nuts. Use your imagination - you can even set up a "raw burrito bar" with different chopped fillings that your family or guests can use to make their own burritos to their liking.

World's Best Raw Burrito

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"B" Healthy!

Judging by how much food we Americans consume (and how much we throw out!), you'd think that we are far removed from the danger of malnutrition. But, you'd be wrong.

The truth is that, while we may have more food available to us than could have even been imagined just a few generations ago, we are not getting the nutrients our bodies need to thrive. This is partly because much of what we eat are empty calories that come from "foods" created in laboratories and sold to us in bright, colorful packages, and, also because even our healthful food choices are now grown in depleted soils that produce crops with fewer vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients.

So, we need to educate ourselves a little and seek out the best foods and supplements that we can find. Today, I want to give you a quick tutorial on the B-vitamin complex, why they are so important and how we can include them in our diets.

I do believe that a vegan diet is the most healthful way to eat, but, of course, we all have the right to follow the choices that we feel are best for us, so I have included both plant and animal food sources for these vitamins.

An excellent plant source for the B-complex vitamins is our very own E3Live

What are the B-complex vitamins?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Your Past Does Not Determine Your Future

Do you look at the past with regret? Do you find yourself thinking, if only I'd had better parents, better opportunities, more money - you fill in the blank - I would have done something better with my life. It's easy to fall into the line of thinking that you are where you are today because life dealt you a bad hand. After all, if you had a rocky start to begin with, how could you possibly achieve greatness? Our prisons and drug treatment centers are filled to overflowing with unfortunate people who lived through tragic childhoods that cast a dark shadow over their entire lives.

Are these unfortunate stories unavoidable? Is there a series of events early in life that predetermines the direction that that particular life must follow? Does a catastrophe occurring at any point in a person's life doom them for the rest of their life?


History, as well as the present day,  offer us so many examples of people who overcame unimaginable odds and achieved greatness in every field. Helen Keller, Malala Yousafzai, Frederick Douglass, Lech Walesa, Elie Wiesel, Oprah Winfrey - really this list is endless.

In my opinion, the common thread in most people's stories of overcoming adversity is this: in addition to inner strength, they had people who supported and believed in them. There was at least one person in each of their lives who said, "Here, take my hand, we can do this together."

Helen Keller had her tireless teacher and friend Annie Sullivan, Malala Yousafzai has her doting father, Frederick Douglass had Anna Murray-Douglass who helped him escape slavery and became his devoted wife, and so on with many others who beat the odds.

So, what I'm saying is, we're all in this together, folks. Look for ways you can support and uplift one another, even in small ways. Start your day with the question, "How can I serve?"

Not only will you take the focus off your own troubles, small or large, but, with more and more people living life with the attitude of giving, we will all be on the receiving end of other people's giving, as well. Our various strengths and weaknesses can be matched with those around us, so that we can all be lifted to greatness in many forms.

Here is a video about one of my all-time favorite musicians, who escaped a seeming life-sentence to poverty and crime, and became beloved by millions around the world.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tim's Place

I don't know why, but we humans tend to be afraid of those who are different from us.  We are friends with people who look like us, think like us, dress like us; we listen to radio personalities who agree with our views; and, in times past, we even killed and imprisoned people just because they didn't fit the norm.

But now, it seems to me that we are entering a new era of understanding and acceptance, at least in some parts of the world. And, some societies are even celebrating the differences that exist among us and make life more interesting. These days, there are opportunities open to people that could not have even been imagined just a couple of generations ago.

Watching the video about Tim Harris made my eyes fill with tears. The joy and love that flows from this young man just made my day. He brought back so many wonderful memories for me. When I was in high school, and for two years after I graduated, I volunteered with Down Syndrome kids, helping them to learn how to read and swim. Later, when I opened a local dance studio with my partners, I taught dance classes specifically for Down Syndrome and disabled children.

It was so very rewarding for me because these kids are the most loving people you could ever meet. They are so open, not judgmental at all. They thrive on hugs, love and smiles. They have no enemies and their view of life is so open and innocent. With the DS kids, what you see is what you get - no pretensions, no walls - just a love of life and everything in it.

And I wonder, why is it that we "normal" people can't be more like that?

In the video, Tim is excited just about going to work! How many people feel that way? How many of us start our work day with a happy dance?

How often do we let our ideas of what we can't do stand in the way of our dreams?

What can we learn from people who are different from us, and how can we use what we learn to make the world a better place?

Tim's enthusiasm and belief in himself was so strong that it swept up everyone in his path. I wonder how many people's lives he's touched just by being himself and following his heart.

Can we each take a piece of Tim's story with us, out into the world every day? Can we learn to think in terms of how we can achieve instead of why we can't?

It is possible. I'm a believer.

Friday, May 2, 2014

40 Pieces of Advice Challenge - Day 10

If you're reading this blog, chances are good that you're interested in living a healthy lifestyle. Chances are also good that you, like most people these days, understand that fresh, natural food is more beneficial than food-like substances created in factories with dyes, preservatives, fillers and chemicals not found in any food that comes from nature. There are countless scientific studies showing the effects of nutrition on health and longevity, as well as personal experiences of people who have transformed their bodies and lives through proper nutrition and exercise. It seems that every month, the covers of magazines are filled with the same enticing phrases - "lose weight, feel great", "exercise and look ten years younger", and so on, ad infinitum.

So, we know all this, but still many people get caught up in the convenience-food trap. With busy work schedules, weekends filled with catching up on chores and errands, and all the other things that seem to take hold of people's lives these days, it's easy to pick up "dinner" from a fast food joint, or pop a pre-made frozen meal in the microwave. But, the consequences of regularly filling our bodies with foods that provide very little in the way of nutrition and real energy are all around us: obesity, heart disease, cancer and exhaustion, just to name a few, have become mainstays of modern life.

As usual, the "easy" way out is anything but easy.

But there's good news, and I'm here to say that it is definitely possible to live in this busy world and still eat close to nature. Start by adding a green salad to one meal each day. You can buy bags of pre-washed and pre-cut organic greens at just about any store these days. Open up a bag, toss in a handful of raw sunflower seeds and organic grape tomatoes, squeeze some lemon juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil, cut up half an avocado, add a dash of salt and pepper and you've got a nutritious and refreshing prelude to your lunch or dinner. You can even have a salad for your afternoon snack, instead of a sugary, fatty dessert.

It really is that simple.

In the morning, instead of pumping your system with coffee and a donut to get yourself going, how about a shot of freshly made green juice? Toss a cucumber, some kale and an orange into a juicer and, voila! you have a glassful of energy that won't have you crashing by mid-morning. Don't have time to make juice? No problem, a quarter cup of E3Live will give you over 65 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential acids, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Are you still craving that chocolate bar? 

Don't beat yourself up over it. Just have a nice juicy orange first, or an apple, a ripe mango, a slice of the tropical goodness of pineapple, some sweet strawberries bursting with flavor. Then wait about 30 minutes. You will probably have forgotten all about that chocolate by then. But, if you still feel like you just have to have it, go ahead, cut off a small piece and eat just that much. 

And be sure that you taste every bite of it - no mindless eating in front of the TV or computer.

By adding in desirable foods, you'll have less room for the manufactured stuff. And, believe it or not, the less you eat of the processed junk, the less you'll crave it. It's just as easy to get "hooked" on good food - it's simply a matter of letting your body and palate experience the flavors and energizing effects of the varieties of food that nature offers.

This is a process of replacing the bad with the good, and it doesn't happen overnight, as much as we might want it to.

Yes, there is a bit of planning involved. For example, when you are doing your grocery shopping, don't fill your cart with packaged foods that will tempt you when they're sitting in your cupboards at home. Buy fresh foods that need to be refrigerated. If you're meeting friends for lunch, opt out of the greasy diners and go to a salad bar.

The important thing to remember is this - you make a choice every time you put something in your mouth. And every time you make that choice, you have the opportunity to do what you know is right. If you fall, pick yourself right up and make a better choice the next time. It really is no more complicated than that.

What choices will you make today?