Saturday, March 21, 2015

More on Thyme and Snoring

Ever since I published the post "Snoring Has Finally Met Its Match: Thyme," I cannot begin to tell you how many of you have approached me saying, "Is it true? I need to try this. My wife would love you forever if it worked!" Of all the posts on my blog, Google searches keep bringing people to this post more than any of my other posts! Snoring is that much of an issue. Some of you snore, some of you sleep next to a snorer, but all of you would give anything to either tone the snoring down or make it entirely obsolete.

Well, here's the update. Our thyme experiment has been two years in the making. At first my husband put a drop or two of thyme on the bottoms of his feet before bed. That evolved into putting a drop of thyme on the palms of his hands and breathing it in. Quickly that turned into him simply putting the open bottle under his nose and inhaling. (This progression happened over the course of a year and a half.) All in all, he would do that every night before bed. Without fail if I started to hear him snore, I'd nudge him and ask, "Did you put thyme on?" He'd grumble in his sleep and say, "No, I forgot," and grab the bottle off his night stand to take a whiff.

That's not to say thyme always worked. Will still snores on random occasions, but he doesn't bring down the house night after night like I wrote about in my post two years ago. (Click here to read it.) Some nights it didn't stop the snoring, but usually it did. If we were sleeping away from home, he would usually snore the first few nights. I have no idea why. New bed and pillow change your sleep positions? Or if his allergies were kicking in or he was starting to come down with a cold he would snore. But I'd say 13 out of 14 nights thyme worked amazingly well to prevent snoring.

Six months ago we moved, and the thyme got packed away. We temporarily lived at my parents' while we remodeled our new home, and my husband did not use thyme the entire six weeks we were there. But he didn't snore. Except for random nights like I already mentioned. We now live in our new home, and even though we unpacked the thyme, my husband doesn't need it anymore.

What am I saying? Will no longer needs thyme to stop his snoring. What does that mean? I'm not exactly sure. I can't tell you how thyme works and if it helps your body stop snoring, but I can't deny that it's worked for us. Will thinks maybe I've grown immune to his snores, which could be partially true. But considering that we have a baby who has me awake at night longer than I'm asleep, we can consider that a perfect opportunity for me to hear any snores if there were any. So what have you got to lose?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 years ago . . .

Five years ago I was given a unique opportunity to make a miracle happen. Five years ago I didn't know how deep my gratitude could reach and how much light and knowledge and truth could be mine. Five years ago I didn't yet know just how quickly my life could be turned upside down. And even at my own bidding! Because five years ago—in January 2010—I'd declared it the YEAR of HEALTH. Oh the irony. Sometimes it has to get pretty dark before the sun shines in again, but then, if you can wait it out and hold on with hope, it shines brighter than ever before. To get the health I desired I had to first be totally incapacitated. But at the time I didn't realize that my life was actually being flipped right side up.

Five years ago today I walked into a rheumatologist's office for the first time. She painted a picture of a life I didn't want. I wore orthotics and used a handicap parking pass. Sometimes I couldn't flip the blinker on or turn the gas cap of my car. I wanted more. I prayed for more. And I searched and searched until I got more.

Five years ago I was led like I've never been led. Friends, friends of friends, sisters of friends, coworkers of friends, and total strangers gave me the answers I didn't know were the answers.

Five years ago next month I went to lunch with Emily, and she told me about her grandpa with cancer who'd kept on living. I asked her endlessly, and she told me all she knew about choosing foods that were more alkaline—a 20/80 goal—to fuel my body with what it needed most in such a weak state. Plant-based and preservative-free. So I did what she said.

Five years ago I started listening. Listening to my body. Listening to my spirit. Relistening to the CDs of The Omnivore's Dilemma. And listening to the wisdom of people past and present. I remembered that I'd been told my whole life to "eat meat sparingly" and eat "every herb in the season thereof; and every fruit in the season thereof." Five years ago I started to eat real food—the stuff God made.
Five years ago I cried with joy in my discoveries. I dug deep into Chinese medicine and learned about the emotions behind illnesses. Get this. I learned that my colon's role to hold onto nutrients and let go of waste is directly tied to my emotional ability to hold onto and let go of—to let go of the past, to let go of anger, to forgive, and to hold onto the good. Every organ and every system functions according to my emotional health. If my emotions are smothered and ignored, my physical body becomes imbalanced and sick. Five years ago I couldn't get enough of this learning. Five years ago I stepped into a world of endless possibility and total accountability. Five years ago I learned I could change my reality and I could create a new future for myself.

I am forever grateful for five years ago and everything in between. It has been a health journey. A health scavenger hunt. A test beyond all tests. I am grateful for my miraculous body, the drive to keep asking, the inspiration (i.e., partial insanity) to follow, and the amazing people along the way who have changed me forever—body, mind, and spirit.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wild Black Rice & Edamame Salad

I don't know how many of you have heard of or watched the show "Chopped." To say that my husband loves it is an understatement, so by default I end up watching it with him. Not that it's boring or lame, I just am not so much a TV person. But in all honesty, it's actually a pretty great time—definitely inspiring and nail-biting to watch talented chefs create not only edible but gourmet dishes from three sometimes-obscure ingredients.

Well, yesterday I found myself at home without a car and the perfect opportunity to pretend I was on "Chopped." I glory in a good challenge, especially when it means being creative with what I already have. So I said, "Okay, Katie. Come up with dinner using only the ingredients in this house." (No cheating and running over to the neighbor's to borrow a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.) And I promise, there really wasn't much! I'd gone to Costco the day before and bought coconut oil and grapefruit (and a 2-year supply of kitchen trash bags!), but I hadn't made it to the grocery store after we'd been out of town all weekend.

I looked in our pantry and saw a small bag of wild BLACK rice I'd bought a few months ago just to give it a try, and it definitely called out to me! I'd been wanting to try it. Ingredient number 1. (Ingredients number 2 and 3 were Brussels Sprouts and Rosemary, but those ended up in a veggie side dish and in the main course.)

I googled "wild black rice" recipes and came upon this amazing dish! It's not only pleasing to the eye but also to the tastebuds! I made a few changes to make it my own, as I highly recommend you do too. It's way more fun to cook when you put your personal stamp on your food!

1 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 cups cooked wild black rice or regular wild rice (This was about 1 cup uncooked rice)
About 1/8 cup red onion, diced (I just cut a 1/2-inch slice from the middle of the onion and then chopped. Use a shallot if you have that instead.)
1 cup shelled edamame
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl.
2. Add the rice, onion, edamame, carrots, and cranberries to the bowl and toss.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, and a few shakes (or cranks) of salt and pepper. Pour over the mixture in the large bowl and toss. Taste to see if it needs more salt, pepper, or vinegar.
4. Cover and chill for at least one hour before eating.
5. Make enough for lunch tomorrow!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lentil Veggie Marinara with Angel Hair Pasta

This is a delicious hearty marinara packed with protein from the lentils. It's both gluten free and vegan, which makes my body super happy! It's also pretty darn tastey, which makes my mouth happy.

The first time I made this dish I created a smaller batch, so this time around I didn't hold back. I've honestly been eating this pasta for lunch every day this week, and I'm not yet sick of it. Pretty astonishing. Granted, I don't want it to go to waste either—lots of hard work and goodness down the drain—so part of me is wishing I'd frozen some or taken some to the neighbors. PS, I love sprinkling feta over top—yum!

Serves 8

1 cup uncooked brown lentils
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, diced
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons homemade Italian seasoning (click here for recipe)
Gluten-free brown rice angel hair pasta, cooked (or any pasta or veggie noodles of your choice—we love spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles)

To cook the lentils, put lentils, water, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook with the lid off for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. The water will be nearly gone.

Add oil to a large skillet and sauté garlic and onion. Once the onions are soft, add bell pepper. Cook for another few minutes. Then add tomato, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and cooked lentils. Let it simmer until the bell pepper are cooked as thoroughly as you like.

Spoon over top a steaming plate full of pasta. (Okay, not literally a whole plate full, because that would not be a very balanced "green" meal, so maybe fill half your plate with a spinach or kale salad.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meditation—What's all the hype?

Meditation is a state of deep peace due to the absence of thought—quieting your mind enough to then listen for answers you're seeking or to receive whatever peace or tranquility you need. Why do we need to clear our mind of thought? Well, according to a study done by the National Science Foundation, we produce from around 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day! Some of us up to 60,000 thoughts. Though baffling, the majority of these thoughts aren't the most productive or even self-supporting. Our minds are filled with worry about paying the bills, regret or self-belittling from rehashing a previous conversation, or fear that we won't have what it takes to succeed in our daily roles. Notice how most of our stress comes from what has already happened or what is to come! Whoever thought we could just enjoy this moment, right here, right now?

Meditation can be therapeutic, calming, and rejuvenating because we give our minds a break, which gives our bodies a break from stress, and takes us to a place where we can be free of that barrage of negative shatter. The American Medical Association has identified stress as the root cause of 60% of all human illnesses and disease. Stress often starts with skipping meals, overeating, insomnia, headaches or stomach aches, anxiety, ADHD, and lack of motivation. Click here for more fun facts on stress.

Meditation influences people in different ways, but from what I've found they are all positive influences. So why not give it a try? One article I found in Psychosomatic Medicine (Speca 2000) reported that after taking a group of cancer patients and having them participate in a weekly 1.5-hour meditation class for 7 weeks, the participants reported that a 65% decrease in Total Mood Disturbance and a 31% reduction in Symptoms of Stress. Patients reported less depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion, and more vigor. They also reported fewer cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, less emotional irritability, and less cognitive disorganization. This is just one report, and there are hundreds more out there!

Day 1 of a free 3-week meditation course starts today, offered by Deepak Chopra, an expert on calming the mind and inviting self-discovery through meditation. Click here to sign up. This is my third time participating in a 3-week meditation course with Chopra, and I've LOVED every one. I admit, in my last two courses I missed about half of the days. Some mornings I had a hard time making it through the whole meditation because I was already feeling the rush of my day, but the mornings I did allow myself to be still I felt a difference in my perspective on life and had less tension in my body.

This 3-week meditation course focuses on how each one of us is put here on earth with a purpose, and when we still our minds, clarity can come so that we can know what we are here to do. If you've never meditated before, give this course a try. You've got nothing to lose. Just find a quiet spot each day where you can sit comfortably and listen. If you've meditated before and it didn't stick, this is a super easy way to try again because they email the meditations to you, and the meditations are guided. Way easier than flying solo!

Enjoy your journey to mindfulness!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Coconut No-Bake Balls

By popular demand, I introduce to you the Coconut No-Bake Ball. It's edible, it's memorable, and it's just enough sweetness to hit the spot. Not to mention, it is packed full of much-desired lauric acid! Most of you know my healthy obsession with coconut oil because of all its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, so eating one of these coconut balls is kind of like getting a mini flu shot, but much much more enjoyable.

My husband is allergic to nuts, so instead of using almond butter we use sun butter, made from sunflower seeds. You can hardly tell the difference between peanut butter and sun butter, so it's a great substitute when recipes call for any kind of nut butter.

Makes 18, 1-inch balls

4 tablespoons melted coconut oil (raw and unrefined coconut oil)
4 tablespoons coconut milk
1 cup almond butter (or sun butter for nut allergies)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup + 5 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons xylitol (or stevia if you prefer)

Add all ingredients except the 5 tablespoons shredded coconut to a turbo blender. Make sure to add the ingredients in the order listed above. The mixture will get pretty thick very fast, so you want your liquids at the bottom of the blender. Blend mixture and then pause to push sides of the mixture down with a spatula. Blend again if necessary. The mixture is going to be thick like cookie dough, so be prepared to keep an eye on your blender so the motor doesn't burn out. The mixture should be thoroughly blended, but not smooth.

Now roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in the reserved shredded coconut. Place coconut balls on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

This recipe just so happens to be part of a candida cleanse, which I found on the Candida Diet website. Candida is a form of yeast found naturally in the intestine and the mouth. When you have an overgrowth of candida, it can make you get frequent colds and flus, feel lethargic or irritable, have chronic body pain, unable to focus, crave sugar or alcohol, unable to lose weight, and experience digestive problems. An overgrowth can happen with a slight change in your body, like going through a few rounds of antibiotics, eating a diet rich in carbs and sugars, or experiencing high stress. The Candida Diet website gives great background on what candida is, how an overgrowth effects your body, how to know if you have an overgrowth, and how to get rid of it.

You are meant to feel good! Listen to your body and do what it takes to get back to your natural state—health. There are so many resources out there to help you along the way!

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Reason Not to Go Raw

I just had an ah-ha moment. Did you know that some greens actually provide more of a certain vitamin or mineral AFTER they are cooked? Chard is one of those and so are spinach and kale. I got this data below by going to Self Nutrition Data and comparing cooked kale's nutrients to raw kale's.

Click on the images for a closer look. Are you surprised? It looks like if you're wanting more vitamin C, go for the raw kale, but if you're looking for an even more gargantuan amount of vitamin A, go for the cooked version.

What really caught my eye was the "Inflammatory Factor" numbers. Kale is already a highly anti-inflammatory green, but look at how that factor almost doubles when cooked. I had no idea! The lesson we learn, as always? Eat more kale. Eat more greens!

Just in case you're wondering why this information matters, stress causes inflammation and a whole lot of the foods we eat cause inflammation. People who deal with chronic or acute pain issues would do themselves good to eat more foods that are anti-inflammatory. I am always looking for ways to decrease the inflammation in my joints, so discovering this little secret about kale is huge. This morning, before I even made this discovery, I had some scrambled eggs cooked with garlic, bell pepper, and kale. Guess I'll be keeping that up and creating all kinds of new concoctions with cooked kale.

Go to Self Nutrition Data and type in chard and spinach (or any other food) to check out their nutrition facts and inflammatory factor.

(Out of curiosity I just looked up dandelion greens too. Same pattern of the nutrients skyrocketing when cooked. I'm going to have to look into this some more. Any insights? What is it that increases the anti-inflammatory property in greens when they are cooked? Time for me to do some research.)