Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why buy organic?

Some people think that buying organic produce and products is hype, I am not one of them.  I buy organic whenever possible.  Here is an article from that I think is good information.
A friend told me about this video and I think it does a better job at illustrating why I buy organic that most of the articles out there.  And it’s only 2 and a half minutes long :-)

Here’s a list of the 12 most and least contaminated foods:

12 Most Contaminated
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
12 Least Contaminated
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May is American Stroke month.  If you think you aren’t at risk of having a stroke because you are in your 20’s or 30’s you are wrong.  The following lists are taken from the American Stroke Association’s website.  Some of the risk factors can’t be changed but many of them can be changed or treated.

What risk factors for stroke can’t be changed?

  • Age — The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the elderly, a lot of people under 65 also have strokes.
  • Heredity (family history) — Your stroke risk may be greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. Some strokes may be symptoms of genetic disorders like CADASIL (Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy with Sub-cortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy), which is caused by a gene mutation that leads to damage of blood vessel walls in the brain, blocking blood flow. Most individuals with CADASIL have a family history of the disorder — each child of a CADASIL parent has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. Visit the NINDS website (opens in new window) or read the AHA/ASA scientific statement (opens in new window) on this topic for more details about CADASIL.
  • Race — African-Americans (opens in new window) have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do. This is partly because blacks have higher risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
  • Sex (gender) — Each year, women have more strokes than men, and stroke kills more women than men. Use of birth control pills, pregnancy, history of preeclampsia/eclampsia or gestational diabetes, oral contraceptive use, and smoking, and post-menopausal hormone therapy may pose special stroke risks for women. Be sure to discuss your specific risks with your doctor.
  • Prior stroke, TIA or heart attack — The risk of stroke for someone who has already had one is many times that of a person who has not. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are “warning strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. TIAs are strong predictors of stroke. A person who’s had one or more TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn’t. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. TIA should be considered a medical emergency and followed up immediately with a healthcare professional. If you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at higher risk of having a stroke, too.

 What stroke risk factors can be changed, treated or controlled?

  • High blood pressure — High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Many people believe the effective treatment of high blood pressure is a key reason for the accelerated decline in the death rates for stroke.
  • Cigarette smoking — In recent years, studies have shown cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. The use of oral contraceptives combined with cigarette smoking greatly increases stroke risk.
  • Diabetes mellitus — Diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke.  Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more. While diabetes is treatable, the presence of the disease still increases your risk of stroke.
  • Carotid or other artery disease — The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis.  
  • Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. It’s caused by fatty buildups of plaque in artery walls. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke.
  • Atrial fibrillation — This heart rhythm disorder raises the risk for stroke. The heart’s upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, which can let the blood pool and clot. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.
  • Other heart disease — People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally. Dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease and some types of congenital heart defects also raise the risk of stroke.
  • Sickle cell disease (also called sickle cell anemia) — This is a genetic disorder that mainly affects African-American and Hispanic children. “Sickled” red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. These cells also tend to stick to blood vessel walls, which can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke.
  • High blood cholesterol — People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke. Also, it appears that low HDL (“good”) cholesterol is a risk factor for stroke in men, but more data are needed to verify its effect in women.
  • Poor diet — Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure. Diets with excess calories can contribute to obesity. Also, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke (PDF opens in new window).
  • Physical inactivity and obesity — Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So go on a brisk walk, take the stairs, and do whatever you can to make your life more active. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Recipe: Cinnamon Glazed Scones

Cinnamon Glazed Scones

Scone Ingredients:
2 cups flour (I used unbleached, but you could use half whole-wheat, half unbleached)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, separated
3 Tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar)

Crumb Topping:
1-2 Tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2teaspoons milk (enough to make a glaze)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Separate the egg white and yolk.  Set the egg white aside.

In a separate bowl, mix egg yolk, sugar and buttermilk (or milk/lemon juice mixture). Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Form dough into a ball on a floured surface. Roll or pat out to half an inch in thickness and eight inches in diameter. Cut into eight equally-sized pieces.
Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Whisk the egg white until froth forms and brush over the tops of scones. Mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over egg-white-topped scones.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Mix together powdered sugar, milk and cinnamon until glaze forms.  Drizzle over scones after they bake.
(Recipe adapted from The Coupon Project)

Monday, April 20, 2015

The benefits of lemon drinking water

Starting your day with a cup of warm lemon water has tons of benefits.  The following information is taken from the website/book Hungry for Change.  I highly recommend the book and the documentary.

Lemon is an excellent and rich source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that protects the body against immune system deficiencies
Lemons contain pectin fiber which is very beneficial for colon health and also serves as a powerful antibacterial.  It balances maintain the pH levels in the body
  • Having warm lemon juice early in the morning helps flush out toxins
  • It aids digestion and encourages the production of bile
  • It is also a great source citric acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium
  • It helps prevent the growth and multiplication of pathogenic bacteria that cause infections and diseases
  • It helps reducing pain and inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid
  • It helps cure the common cold
  • The potassium content in lemon helps nourish brain and nerve cells
  • It strengthens the liver by providing energy to the liver enzymes when they are too dilute
  • It helps balance the calcium and oxygen levels in the liver In case of a heart burn, taking a glass of concentrated lemon juice can give relief
  • It is of immense benefit to the skin and it prevents the formation of wrinkles and acne
  •  It helps maintain the health of the eyes and helps fight against eye problems
  • Aids in the production of digestive juices
  • Lemon juice helps replenish body salts especially after a strenuous workout session

Packed with all the goodness, make it a point to begin your day with a glass of warm lemon juice. Its cleansing and healing effects will have positive effects on your health in the long run. However it is very important to note that lemon juice when comes directly in contact with the teeth, can ruin the enamel on the teeth. Hence, it is advised to consume it diluted and also rinse your mouth thoroughly after drinking lemon juice.

Moving through the stages of grief.

Everyday someone asks me how I'm doing, for the most part I just smile and shrug my shoulders.  It's been 4 weeks today since my dad died.  The pain in my heart has gone from being a sharp searing pain to more like a dull ache.  I picked up my dad's ashes last Tuesday and that was tough.  By Thursday I was finally ready to look at the death certificate and found something that surprised me.  The cause of death was listed as "end stage senile dementia".  He didn't have Alzheimer's so I did some research.  I found this article about how the brain behaves after a stroke, or with dementia or Alzheimer's.  It basically outlined what we've been through the last year.  I wish one of his doctors had shared this with us before I think it would have been helpful.  I have to remind myself that I was very lucky, my dad never got to the point where he didn't know me and he never lost his speech.  And as much as I miss him I know it's better that he's not trapped in his body any more. 

Below are the 5 stages of grief, it's something every deals with differently...

How Do We React to Grief and Loss?

There are specific stages of grief. They reflect common reactions people have as they try to make sense of a loss. An important part of the healing process is feeling and accepting the emotions that come as a result of the loss.
Here are the common stages of grief that people go through:
  • Denial, numbness, and shock: Numbness is a normal reaction to a death or loss and should never be confused with "not caring." This stage of grief helps protect us from experiencing the intensity of the loss. It can be useful when we have to take some action, such as planning a funeral, notifying relatives, or reviewing important papers. As we move through the experience and slowly acknowledges its impact, the initial denial and disbelief fades.
  • Bargaining: This stage of grief may be marked by persistent thoughts about what "could have been done" to prevent the death or loss. Some people become obsessed with thinking about specific ways things could have been done differently to save the person's life or prevent the loss. If this stage of grief isn't dealt with and resolved, the person may live with intense feelings of guilt or anger that can interfere with the healing process.
  • Depression: In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true extent of the death or loss. Common signs of depression in this stage include trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and crying spells. We may also have self-pity and feel lonely, isolated, empty, lost, and anxious.
  • Anger: This stage is common. It usually happens when we feel helpless and powerless. Anger can stem from a feeling of abandonment because of a death or loss. Sometimes we're angry at a higher power, at the doctors who cared for a lost loved one, or toward life in general.
  • Acceptance: In time, we can come to terms with all the emotions and feelings we experienced when the death or loss happened. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our set of life experiences.
Throughout our lives, we may return to some of the earlier stages of grief, such as depression or anger. Because there are no rules or time limit to the grieving process, everyone's healing process will be different.

We're still a long way from our goal for the memorial, please contribute if you're able.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cleasning and a recipe for Detox Soup

This week my friend and I started teaching another class, this time on cleansing and juices, smoothies, and soups for the purpose of cleansing.  Most people hear the word "cleansing" and think you've got to go on some crazy fast.  Not true, the single most important thing you can do to cleanse your body is increase your water intake.  Our bodies are made up of more than 70% water.  Most people live in a chronic state of dehydration causing symptoms like headaches, back pain, skin problems, arthritis, digestive problems and many others.  For more information click here for and excerpt of The Seven Pillars of Health, a resource I highly recommend.

Most health experts recommend doing some type of colon cleanse before doing anything else, the reason is if your digestive system isn't cleaned out you wont be able to handle the toxins released from say a liver cleanse and you could end up feeling very sick.  This is the hand out we gave to our class.  We served water with lemon, made fresh apple juice, a smoothie with greens in it and, soup.  My mission once again is to show people that eating (and drinking) for your health does not have to taste bad :) 

While researching for this class I've come across a number of websites and blogs with great recipes.  Instead of reinventing the wheel and coming up with my own soup recipe I used someone else's for this weeks soup.  You can find the original post here

Normally I wouldn't peel any of the vegetables especially if using organic but this time I did.  It came out delicious.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Vegan Mulligatawny Detox Soup Recipe


1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons mild organic curry powder or paste
1 teaspoon organic turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less, to taste
1 medium sweet or red onion, peeled, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 heaping cups thinly shredded cabbage
1 quart fresh spring water
2 cups organic fresh veggie juice blend (or your fave V8-style juice)
1 14-oz. can organic chick peas, drained
A small pinch of sea salt, to taste
1 14-oz. can coconut milk, stirred
Juice from 1 medium lime, or to taste
1 tsp honey

For garnish:

Thin apple slices or shredded apple
Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a medium size soup pot. Add the garlic, ginger, curry, turmeric and cayenne and briefly stir for to season the oil. Add the onion, carrots, cauliflower, apples, sweet potato and cabbage, and sauté until softened, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the spring water, veggie juice, and chick peas; season with a touch of sea salt, if desired. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, lime juice and honey. Stir well. Taste for seasoning adjustments. Heat through gently; don't boil.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First loves, dignity, and feeling like your head is under water...

It's said that every girls first love is their dad.  For me that's 100% true.  My dad has been the one person that believed in me unconditionally.  He always told me I could do anything and that I could change the world.  (I haven't changed the world yet, but I'm sure one of my kids will).

Even though this song is written about a significant other I can relate it to my dad.... like the song I was his muse and we're each others end and beginning.

We disagreed on most things including politics and religion.  The greatest thing about my dad is that he taught me to think for myself.  That's not popular in parenting because most people want to raise clones of themselves....not Jim and not me.  One of my greatest accomplishments is that I've taught my kids to think for themselves, my dad's legacy will live on :)

Jim, wrote an Astrology column, weekly, literally until the end.  He was writing his column when the stroke happened.  When I first got to Las Vegas we had every hope of a full recovery.  I stayed for 5 days but 30 minutes after I got home the hospital called and he'd had another stroke, this one at the brain stem.  Most days he's lucid and oriented, other's not so much.  I moved him to Corona in June so we could be closer....going back and forth to Vegas was difficult and expensive.  Unfortunately, he's been in the hospital or a nursing home since April 28th... 

There isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't ask if he can go home with me.  At this point there is no way because Medicare/Medical won't cover someone from hospice being here 24/7.  So, I created a fund-raising site hoping I can raise enough funds to bring my dad home.  I think he deserves the dignity of being home and letting go of this life the way he wants heart-breaking as that is for me.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hospice, dreams come true, and the irony of it all...

Yesterday, I entered the hospice chapter of the journey with my dad.  Not necessarily because he is ready for it but because the hospital is having trouble placing him in a nursing home without it.  Medicare and Medical have ridiculous rules and have made my life a living hell with all of their bureaucracy.  I've signed the consent forms before but we've never ended up using hospice because my dad has rallied.

(For those of you who don't know what hospice is it's type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient's pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs)

Right after the hospice social worker got there my son called, he and his friend decided late Friday night to go to Mammoth for a snow boarding adventure.  Christian wanted to know where to go to rent equipment so I asked my dad.  His reply was "tell him to go to Footloose and ask for Tony, he's part owner and an old friend, tell him you're my grandson and he may be able to hook you up, or to to Kittredge's and ask for Bob, tell him you're my grandson and he'll take care of you."  Moments like these are encouraging but heartbreaking at the same time because mentally my dad is sharp and clear but his body is failing him.

I started taking my kids to Mammoth several years ago during the summer, the first trip they were pretty bored, they couldn't deal with the quiet of the mountains.  So the first trip was sort of a bust except for canoeing on Lake Mary and a visit to Whitmore pool.  Then four years ago we went again (minus Jade, our oldest daughter) for my Uncle Pat's memorial celebration.  This time Christian fell in love with Mammoth and has really wanted to go during the winter.  Well, this weekend he's there and staying with my dad's cousin.  He even got offered a seasonal job at the mountain yesterday! He posted a picture on Instgram saying "a dream come true, I think I just found where I want to spend the rest of my life."

 Displaying IMG_1296.JPG
The irony of all this is that Mammoth will be my dad's final resting place.  We lived there when I was a kid, after my parents divorced.  After I went to live with my mom, my dad stayed and I spent most of my summers, long weekends, and spring breaks there until he moved to Las Vegas when I was in high school.  The standing joke with my dad for years was him saying that when he couldn't ski anymore, strap him to a pair of skis and push him off the top of the mountain.  I can't tell you how many times we've looked into buying a place either in Mammoth or Bishop so my dad could live the rest of his days there.

There's something magical about living in Mammoth and it seems to be in the DNA of the men in my family.  My dad and one of his younger brothers, Pat lived there for years.  My other uncle had a second home there for a while and my dad's cousin has lived there for 35+ years.  And now my son is wanting to live there for the rest of the winter at least.

 Displaying IMG_1295.JPG