Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Paleo Diet? 13 Facts About Eating Like a Hunter-Gatherer

Eat like a Neanderthal? It doesn't sound appealing on first read, but the so-called Paleo diet — supposedly influenced by the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate — has become increasingly popular over the past few years.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the diet, and some variations among those who follow it, but at its core it's a diet based on healthy animal protein, nuts, and vegetables, with no or restricted grains and legumes and high-sugar fruits and vegetables.

If you're wondering if the paleo diet might be right for you, here are 13 things you should know.
1. It's Not Just Plates Full Of Bacon: Yes, the paleo diet involves eating meat, but it doesn't mean that you'll just be eating bacon and eggs for every meal. Protein is important but your diet needs to include healthy carbohydrates and fats as well. 
2. It Can Be Easier On The Digestive System: Many people feel an improvement of digestive symptoms once they switch to a paleo-influenced diet, perhaps because it involves the cutting dairy and grains. People report that persistent bloating, gassiness, and general discomfort clears up, thanks to the elimination of grains, legumes, and dairy, which for many people have a negative impact on digestive health.
3. It's More Than Just A Diet: it's a lifestyle. And fitness and physical activity are encouraged. There is a focus on energy and getting quality sleep to ensure optimum health. And stress management is another area where work is done. Paleo has a lot to do with what you eat, but it also looks at improving or removing all of the unhealthy aspects of our culture.
4. It Might Help With Autoimmune Disorders: when people looking at holistic ways to treat multiple sclerosis, they'd had success that shows up in their scans. There is some evidence that a paleo-focused diet can help with other autoimmune disorders as well.
5. You Don't Have To Join A CrossFit Gym: A lot of people instantly think of CrossFit, the intense exercise program that focuses on strength, endurance and flexibility, when they think of the paleo diet, and vice versa. But while many CrossFitters do eat paleo, you don't have to fling tires around to give the diet a try.
6. It Can Help With Your Energy: When you cut out sugar and refined carbs, your metabolism and blood sugar can become more stable, which means you'll have a more constant supply of energy. For that reason, going Paleo can help you fight that 3 p.m. crash. 
7. Paleo Can Help You Fight Sugar Cravings: Always looking for a chocolate bar? Because it eliminates sugar and encourages you to eat in a way that keeps blood sugar stable, the paleo diet can cut that "hangry" feeling and reduce sugar cravings.
8. You Can Give It A Shot: Consider switching to a paleo-influenced regime for 30 days, then see what your results are and decide on going forward from there. 
9. The Fats You Eat Are Healthy: Yes, there are fats in some of the foods more common on the paleo diet, for example, in avocados, olive oil and salmon. But the point is to get healthy fats from a healthy source.
10. You Should Add In Fermented Foods: Fermented foods are a great addition to any diet, including the paleo diet. Choices like kimchi and sauerkraut are full of healthy bacteria that will help with digestion and may improve your immune functioning.
11. You'll Want Quality Sources Of Protein: Don't just run to the supermarket for the cheapest cuts you can find. Because animal fat can store unhealthy additives like the hormones that may have been used to raise animals, you'll want protein from as clean and high-quality a source as you can get. 
12. It's Not Necessarily Low Carb: Yes, paleo involves cutting out grains and legumes, which are sources of carbs. But that doesn't mean you'll have no carbohydrates in your diet — or that you should, for that matter. Root veggies like taro have carbs, as do other vegetables like broccoli and fruits like berries.
13. It's Friendly For The Gluten Intolerant: Because paleo diets cut out carbs like wheat and barley, which both contain gluten, it can be a good diet for those who need or wish to avoid gluten.  It's also a way to see how your body responds if you remove gluten from your diet for 14-30 days - then reintroduce it and see how you feel.
~Thanks to Terri Coles

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar

How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar
We love our canning jars for everything from storing grains in the pantry to shaking cocktails in the park. But by far one of our most favorite ways to use our pint- and quart-sized canning jars is to pack them with salads. Yes, that's right, leafy green salads. Dressing goes on the bottom, veggies and other salad goodies get piled on top. Everything stays separate and dressing-free until you toss the salad together in the bowl — never eat another soggy lunch salad. Even better, these salads last for days in the fridge so we can make a week's worth of lunches ahead of time.
How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar

How do the greens not get soggy?

The basic idea when packing salads in jars is to start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients with the dressing on the bottom of the jar and work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the salad greens themselves. As long as your jar doesn't accidentally tip over you in your bag, the delicate greens will be well-protected from the dressing until you're ready to eat.

How does everything get mixed together?

When you're ready to eat your salad, just unscrew the cap and shake it into a bowl. Everything gets pretty compacted in the jar, so some vigorous shaking may be needed! This shaking also helps to toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Once the salad is in the bowl, you can toss it some more with your fork to make sure everything is evenly coated.

What's the best jar to use?

Any canning jar can be used, but wide-mouthed jars are the easiest for both packing the salad into the jars and shaking them out again. Pint-sized jars are great for individual side-salads of mostly greens with just a few "extra" salad toppings. Use quart-sized jars for larger lunch and dinner salads that have a lot of extra veggies and salad goodies. Two-quart jars and larger are great if you're taking the salad to a potluck or cookout.

How long will jars of salad keep in the fridge?

With the lid sealed tightly, these salads can last for several days in the fridge — up to 5 days or so. If you're making salads with soft ingredients or perishable proteins, like avocados, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs, or cooked chicken breast, wait to add those ingredients until the day that you plan to eat the salad. Also, if you have a vacuum-sealer attachment for your canning jars, vacuum-sealing the salads right after assembling them will keep your greens and veggies even crisper and fresher.
Do you ever pack your salads in jars? What are your favorite combos? Any other great tips to share from your experience?


Makes 1 salad

How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar

1-4 tablespoons salad dressing
Mix of raw and cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, cheese, and other salad ingredients
Salad greens 
Wide-mouth canning jars with tight-fitting lids:
pint jars for side salads, quart jars for individual meal-sized salads, 2-quart jars (or larger) for multiple servings
Large bowl, to serve


  1. Salad Dressing: Pour 1 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. Adjust the amount of dressing depending on the size of the salad you are making and your personal preference.
  2. Hard Vegetables: Next, add any hard chopped vegetables you're including in your salad, like carrots, cucumbers, red and green peppers, cooked beets, and fennel.
  3. Beans, Grains, and Pasta: Next, add any beans, grains, and/or pasta, like chickpeas, black beans, cooked barley, cooked rice, and pasta corkscrews.
  4. Cheese and Proteins (optional): If you'll be eating the salad within the day, add a layer of diced or crumbled cheese and proteins like tunafish, diced (cooked) chicken, hardboiled eggs, or cubed tofu. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them on top of the jar.
  5. Softer Vegetables and Fruits (optional): Next, add any soft vegetables or fruits, like avocados, tomatoes, diced strawberries, or dried apricots. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them to the top of the jar.
  6. Nuts, Seeds, and Lighter Grains: Next, add any nuts or seeds, like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. If you're making a salad with lighter, more absorbent grains like quinoa or millet, add them in this layer instead of with the beans.
  7. Salad Greens: Last but not least, fill the rest of the jar with salad greens. Use your hands to tear them into bite-sized pieces. It's fine to pack them into the jar fairly compactly.
  8. Storing the salad: Screw the lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you're including any cheese, proteins, or soft fruits and vegetables, add these to the top of the jar the morning you plan to eat your salad.
  9. Tossing and eating the salad: When ready to eat, unscrew the lid and shake the salad into the bowl. The action of shaking the salad into the bowl is usually enough to mix the salad with the dressing. If not, toss gently with a fork until coated. 
~Thanks to Emma Christensen for The Kitchn

Monday, July 14, 2014

Really Healthy Lemonade!

Every once in a while you find a combination of ingredients that are tasty, cheap, easy to make - AND healthy! Such is my Really Healthy Lemonade. Here’s the recipe:
  • 12 oz. glass of purified water
  • 1/2 fresh-squeezed medium lemon (a whole lemon if you like more tart)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of xylitol powder (add 2 drops organic stevia for added sweetness
  • top off with a mint leaf
Nutritional Profile per serving:
Calories – 17 g (26 if you use a whole lemon)
*Sugar – 0 g (stevia and xylitol have zero net carbs. Net carbs are determined by subtracting carbs with negligible effect on blood sugar from total carbohydrate)
Fat – 0 g
Protein -0 g
Potassium – 58mg (116 if whole lemon)
Diabetics rejoice! Xylitol, the truly natural sweetener derived from plants, has a glycemic index of 7 (very low!) as well as being great for the teeth. In warmer months, add ice cubes or even some sparkling water for fun. In colder months, I usually suggest room temperature water or just slightly cool (eastern medicine philosophy). Kids love it! 
~Thanks to Greg Barsten
* for more information about xylitol, check out www.xlearinc.com

Gout: Alternative Therapies

Gout Natural TherapiesGout is a common type of arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the system. Gout can be very painful and debilitating in terms of mobility. The following whole food products are natural therapies for Gout. Whole food treatments are not only healthier than medication, but also to help the body use its own methods to heal itself, which is what it does naturally.
Elevated levels of uric acid in the blood can be an indicator of poor kidney function, so start there. Also, in the case of gout the body does not produce enough of the enzyme uricase, which oxidises uric acid into a soluble compound. Because uric acid is a by-product of certain foods, gout is closely related to diet. In fact, deficiencies of certain nutrients can actually provoke an attack.
Body Balance may be very helpful; minerals help to reduce serum uric acid and so do carotinoids. The protein from the seaweed is a complete protein that also helps to reduce serum uric acid; it is also low in purines. If essential amino acids are lacking, uric acid production actually increases. So, it is not the protein as such, but purine content that is the contributing factor. To learn much more about Body Balance, visit our Body Balance Detailed Information page.
TrueGreens are supportive, as the alfalfa (which is recommended supplementally with gout), bilberry and grapeseed extracts - which contain powerful antioxidant compounds - have been shown to be helpful specifically in a gout situation.
Calcium and magnesium are always great stress reducers, and glucosamine has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that help to support the joint tissue. TrueGreens contain Omega essential fatty acids which are needed to repair tissues, aid in healing and restore proper fatty acid balance. An excess of saturated fats is often the cause of gout.
Colon Cleanse is recommended to relieve the body of its toxic overload.
Other Suggestions:
Drink plenty of filtered water as this promotes the excretion of uric acid.
Eat lots of blueberries, strawberries and cherries as these neutralize uric acid.
Celery is wonderful, so drink celery juice and munch on the stalks as much as you can.
No alcohol, as this both increases the production of uric acid and also reduces its elimination.
Avoid any fried foods or oil (other than olive oil) that has been subjected to heat. When this happens the oil becomes rancid, which destroys Vitamin E in the body resulting in the release of increased amounts of uric acid. An excess of saturated fats is often behind this disorder—usually beginning somewhere in the past.
Extra Vitamin C also lowers serum uric acid levels.
Maintain a diet low in purines at all times. High purine foods to avoid if having a gout attack: 
  • all red meats and organ meats, 
  • meat gravies and broths, 
  • herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, 
  • all poultry and all shellfish, 
  • mushrooms, 
  • peanuts, 
  • any kind of yeast 
  • asparagus

~Thanks to Christa Way

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Asthma? 3 Easy Ways Yoga Can Help

 There are many yoga tools that can make a big difference to asthma sufferers - here are just three ways that yoga can help.

  1. Follow your nose
Like many people with asthma, my daughter is a mouth breather. Mouth breathing has many disadvantages and is linked to anxiety, sleep problems and reduced immunity. When we breathe through the nose, tiny particles in the air are filtered out by nasal hair and the air is warmed and moistened before entering the airways. Mouth breathing allows cold, dry and unfiltered air into the lungs, irritating the sensitive membranes of the airways. Yoga offers many techniques for encouraging nasal breathing and one of the most effective is Jala Neti – nasal irrigation. Regular Neti keeps the nasal passages clear of pathogens and makes it easier to breathe through the nose. You can buy a Neti pot in most yoga studios and many pharmacies and this video shows you how to do it.

2. Take a deep breath 
One of the distressing symptoms of asthma is the feeling of not being able to get enough air into the body. The solution? Exhale more deeply.  It seems counter-intuitive, but learning how to breathe out fully can help you breathe in more easily. Asthmatics are often diagnosed using tests that measure how fast and hard they can exhale. Weak, slow exhalation is a key indicator of asthma and improving the quality of your exhale can improve the symptoms of asthma. Here’s a simple technique that will help you learn to increase your exhale. If you want to use the correct mudra, or hand position, for this breathing practice, you can see a picture of it here

  • After doing Jala Net, sit comfortably and take a natural inhale.
  • Press your right thumb gently into the right side of your nose, blocking the right nostril. Exhale through the left nostril only.
  • Lower your right hand and inhale through both nostrils.
  • Press the tip of your right ring finger into the left side of your nose, blocking the left nostril. Exhale through the right nostril only.
  • Lower your right hand and inhale through both nostrils.

3. Relaaaaaax
Asthma and anxiety often go hand in hand. Several studies have shown that learning to relax the body and mind can improve asthma symptoms. Here’s a very simple relaxation that will help you manage stress, anxiety and asthma symptoms.

  • Lie down on your back. Make sure you’re on a comfortable, flat surface and that you’re warm and comfortable. Put a pillow under your head or a cushion under your knees if it helps.
  • Feel all the points on the back of your body where it meets the floor – the backs of your legs and arms, the back itself, the back of the head. Drop your whole bodyweight down through these points into the floor, letting go of all muscle tension. Relax your jaw and throat.
  • When you inhale, imagine that your body is gently inflating like a balloon. When you blow into a balloon, the air goes straight into the centre of the balloon, which expands outwards in all directions simultaneously. Do the same with your inhale – breathe into the centre of your body and feel it expand outwards in all directions. As you exhale, simply let go and feel the body soften and relax as the breath flows out.
  • Repeat for 12 breaths.

There are many specialized yoga practices that are very helpful for asthmatics. My daughter has a regular practice that makes a real difference to her symptoms. They key is to find the techniques that are right for you and then practice them regularly. Working with an experienced yoga teacher or yoga therapist is highly recommended and always make sure you check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program (and remember, while yoga can help you manage your asthma, you should always consult your doctor before changing the way you take your medication).
                                                                                                                            ~Thanks to Nikola Ellis

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