Tag Archives: healthy

5 Quick Stress Busters

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Stress is an everyday occurrence for most of us. Whether we work at home, in an office, or work as a full time parent, stress follows us everywhere and can take a toll physically and mentally.

When I contemplate ways to alleviate my stress, a tropical island getaway immediately bursts into my head like a ray of happy sunshine. A large majority of us stress huggers believe that lying on a beach with a fruity beverage is the only way to oust the routine aches and pains associated with too much to do and not enough time. Not so my friend!

Would you believe me if I told you that five minutes of quiet meditation a day can have a significant impact on controlling your stress and elevating your well being?  Did you know that a couple whiffs of essential oils calms your mind and relieves tension in your neck? A quick cup of green tea a day is a nice respite from an aggravating day and contains antioxidants that are fabulous for extra energy!

Here are five simple ways to reduce stress and lead a more serene lifestyle:

1. Take a walk – It doesn’t have to be a long one. 30 Minutes 3-5 times a week can have a significant impact on your health and well being. Simply put, the endorphins you are releasing make you feel calm, relieve pain, and keep you looking good! Don’t forget to bring your pup. Animals make everything more fun!

2. Start a journal – Writing down your thoughts keeps anxiety at bay, and if you are a worrier like me, helps turn off the part of your brain that constantly performs the worry dance. Clarifying your thoughts and emotions helps with all parts of emotional wellbeing.

3. Reach out and call a friend  – Too often, when we’re depressed and overwhelmed, do we forget to reach out to another person. Grab a quick lunch, a facial, or even a brief chat on the phone with a loved one can assuage the soul. A comforting voice at the other end of the line brightens the mood and lightens depression and anxiety.

4. Commune with nature – Head directly to the closest park or the mountains and just SIT! Even if it’s for five minutes. Feel the sun on your face. Listen to the sounds the wind makes as it blows through the trees. Really hear the birds. Appreciate the lingering smells throughout the park. Taking a nature break is beneficial for our minds and makes us more productive, thereby creating a more relaxed you. This works even when you can’t get away. Just go outside, even if it’s just in the driveway.

5. Reward yourself – This is my favorite one. Give yourself something to look forward to. No one can deal with the daily grind of life day in and day out, and not become a depressed, stressed, mess at least sometimes. Treat yourself to a massage, a hot bath, new running shoes, a stood movie or even just an extra hour of sleep a week. Anything that gets you out of your funk and into a smile. Trust me, you deserve it!

Making a few minor adjustments aimed at relieving your stress and tension can make all the difference in your work and personal relationships. As you make more positive lifestyle changes, you will notice your physical symptoms diminish, which will lead to a more happy and healthy you. Go ahead – I dare you to try one or all of these quick, easy methods to help improve your physical pain and promote emotional wellness. Just don’t forget to tell me all about it!

What is your favorite way to relieve stress? I’d love the hear about it in the comments below.

 

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DIY Bubble (Boba) Tea

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I know some people out there have a problem eating strange textures, I’m just not one of them. When Bubble (Boba) Tea came out, I was thrilled to chew on those big gummy balls. It was equally exciting to suck them up through that fat straw. What a fun drink! Right?

It had been a few years since I had one, so I stopped by the little shop in the mall excited to experience Bubble Tea again. This time I was seeing the place through new eyes. Instead of being lured by the sweet concoctions or swayed by the colorful powders lined up against the wall, I was a little horrified. What on earth is in Bubble Tea anyway?

Just like a million times before, I cursed my nutrition education and walked out of the store without a drink in hand.

Not to be dissuaded from my growing craving, I decided to figure out another way. Did you know that you can order Bobas (tapioca pearls) on Amazon? Of course you can! (Small soapbox: Please buy local when you can.) So, I ordered some Boba, and figured out how to make my own version where the ingredients aren’t a mystery.

The basic ingredients of Bubble Tea are great (tea, milk, a little sweet, and tapioca pearls) and easy to combine on your own.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Obtain your bobas
  2. Cook them up according to the directions. It should take a whole 5 minutes. Note: I learned the hard way that Boba doesn’t store well – only make enough for one day.
  3. Make your tea of choice (fruity, black, green, matcha, rooibos, white)
  4. Choose your creamer (dairy, non-dairy, full fat, non-fat)
  5. Choose your level of sweet (stevia, sugar, honey)
  6. Add your Boba
  7. If you’re really fancy, order the big fat straws too (I used an un-cool but eco-friendly spoon)
  8. Enjoy!

Here are my cooked plump Bobas:

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Here is my finished product … a decaf Chai with full-fat coconut milk and stevia – Yummo!

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Hey that sounds like a Starbucks drink. I wonder why they haven’t boarded this train yet? Let me know what your favorite combination is below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Filed under Healthy Eating!, Recipes

Healthy Kid Lunches Made Easy

Are you constantly on the go with the children in tow? Is the lunch packing, breakfast eating, fast track you call a school morning creating familial meltdowns? Trying to feed your family is tough. Trying to feed your family healthy, unprocessed foods, especially at school, can be tougher. If you’d like your kids to eat a healthy lunch that doesn’t take too much time to make, then keep reading!

Make a Plan…

I have two words for you: advanced planning. Five days a week we have to make lunch interesting enough for our children to want to eat it. Here are a few fun, quick, nutritious suggestions that will make the morning scramble a little less hectic.

Chop, chop…

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Chop fruits and vegetables up at the beginning week that will last until Friday. Veggies are a bit harder than fruit for children to get jazzed up about. You can cut up green beans, carrots, cucumbers, and corn niblets. Choose veggies that you know your children like and make them fun. I make little eye and mouth holes in the cucumbers, add a touch of light ranch to incite more interest in the carrots. Corn and green beans are fabulous warm or cold and great finger foods. Strawberries, sliced bananas, blackberries, and grapes are all wonderful, healthy treats for lunchtime. Throw the grapes in the freezer for snack time! A frozen, tasty tidbit!

Rollups the healthy way…

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Sick of PBJ and Lunchables? Try a deli-meat roll-up instead. You can use turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken. Any sliced deli-meat will do (preferably organic and without nitrates). Fill them with cream cheese, pineapple, peas, red peppers, greek yogurt….anything and everything. You can prepare these in advance so that half their lunch is already made for the week!

Get them involved….

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Have your children get involved with making their own lunch the night before. Ask them what they want for lunch. See what kind of suggestions they make, and counter offer with a healthier choice. Instead of cookies, suggest graham crackers. If they ask for a sugary yogurt, give them greek yogurt and sweeten it up with some strawberries or honey. Instead of chips, how about some pretzel sticks? Let them make their own sandwich, and make fun shapes with them using cookie cutters.

Try a blended approach…

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I’ve never met a kid who wasn’t crazy for a smoothie. Use your blender and add bite-sized pieces of fruit (or veggies). I love to add dark leafy greens. Add a dollop of yogurt and some crushed ice or some frozen fruit and blend. Voila! A healthy snack for lunch time (and they won’t know it’s healthy)! You can play around with different flavors by adding peanut butter, coconut, nuts, etc. This one is also easy to avoid particular diet allergies you may have.

Don’t forget to utilize that thermos…

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Remember that Steve Martin thermos song? “I’m picking out a thermos for you. Not an ordinary thermos for you.” I digress, but check it out for a laugh, here. How about chicken noodle soup or turkey chili for a cold day? Instead of sending them to school with juice, trade it out with some tea sweetened with a bit of honey.

Try a Bento Box…

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You can really shake your child’s lunchtime routine up by picking up a bento box. They make them specifically for kids now, and have several different compartments for a variety of lunchtime offerings! Let’s have fun with lunchtime and keep the kids from trading their dull lunches for Cheetos!

What works for your family? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

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Filed under Healthy Eating!, Healthy Kids

How Green Smoothies Saved My Life

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By: Dr. Jessica McCord, Guest Blogger

It’s been almost 2 years since I made my first green smoothie, and you can bet that I celebrate that anniversary!  I would never have thought that such a simple thing could change my health, my eating habits, my awareness (of what goes in my body), and my overall mood and well-being.

I used to drag myself out of bed, rush around the house with no time to spare, except for grabbing  the all-important large mug of coffee full of creamer and sugar.  No breakfast, perhaps a sugary snack sometime in the morning, followed by my afternoon ritual of Coca-Cola or a super-sweet White Mocha from Starbucks.  I needed my caffeine, I didn’t have time for breakfast, and I rarely ate lunch. When I did, it was usually something processed and microwaved with very little nutritional value.

I came home each day feeling tired, battled frequent headaches, caught every little cold that crossed my path, had terrible constipation and bloating (you ladies know what I’m talking about) and didn’t sleep very well.  I ate out most evenings, had little motivation to work out, and felt lethargic a vast majority of the time.

One day, Lisa (owner of this blog and one of my oldest and dearest friends) pointed out a few questionable ingredients in my sacred coffee creamer. We talked about alternatives and sweeteners.  She knew I needed to take baby steps away from my caffeine overload so she gave me advice she knew I could handle at the time.

It didn’t take long for me to start questioning other parts of my diet such as the amount of sugar in my routine, the lack of good healthy foods, and my continued exhaustion.  Changing my coffee creamer and sweetener was a good first baby step, but I knew I needed to do more.

Lisa talked me through my first green smoothie, and although I’ve made little tweaks here and there, it’s remained mostly the same over these past few years. I found a way to get a healthier version of my caffeine in there that even has anti-carcinogenic properties (green tea powder, or Matcha).

I know I’m a nerd for getting excited to wake up in the morning to make my smoothies, BUT they have changed my life.  First, it’s amazing that I am excited to get up in the mornings (ask my husband, he has often incurred my morning wrath). I now wake up 2 hours before I have to be anywhere so I have time to make my smoothie and enjoy it while I relax and do some reading to begin my day.

Not to mention, I now visit my bathroom like clockwork…every morning. Every morning!  That’s right, no more regular constipation and bloating! I leave the house with a happy tummy, a good head-start on my fruits and veggies for the day, and a desire to keep my daily habits in line with my awesome beginning to the day.

I never drank water before I began my smoothie regimen.  Now I drink it all the time. Somehow downing a Coke and a latte every afternoon lost its luster knowing how great I feel without them!  My body loves me for listening to it.

It’s so empowering knowing where my food comes from, reading labels, and taking on healthy habits. My morning smoothies are the way I begin my day with health and it truly carries through the rest of my day.

I rarely get headaches or colds, my stomach is regulated, I have way more energy, and I sleep great. Eventually, I started running and doing yoga because I feel motivated to compliment my healthy eating habits with some exercise. My skin is glowing and I feel wonderful… all from a little smoothie. What an easy and satisfying way to get on the path to better health!

I encourage everyone to try it out, so here’s my recipe below.  Try out different fruits and combinations to suit your style. That’s the great thing about smoothies – you can personalize them to your own needs and tastes.

Jess’s Green Smoothie

All ingredients are organic…it’s worth it!

Place the following in your blender:

  • Handful of spinach (or your favorite greens)
  • Handful of baby carrots
  • 1 scoop of Amazing Grass GreenFoods (I use chocolate or the berry blend, but you can choose your favorite flavor)
  • 1 cup or so of SoDelicious Original Coconut Milk (I’ve tried the unflavored, that’s good too)
  • I scoop of Natural Factors Whey Protein (unflavored) Helps keep you full until lunch!
  • A tablespoon of honey (I do this because I buy local honey and it helps with my allergies)
  • I teaspoon of green tea power (Matcha)
  • About a cup of frozen mixed berries

Then blend and enjoy! Cheers to your health.

ImageJessica McCord, PhD.

Jessica just recently graduated (with honors) from UNM with her Doctorate in Special Education. When she’s not drinking green smoothies, she spends her time trying to figure out how to save the world one student at a time. You might also find her riding bikes with her police officer hubby, playing with her two adorable dogs Bella and Indigo, and sometimes you’ll find her rollerblading along the Rio Grande with me.

 

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Recipe: Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes

Roasted beets and sweet potatoes
Ingredients:
  • 3-4 large beets, washed (you can peel them if you like, but I just scrub them really well), cut into chunks
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • olive oil (3 tablespoons)
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions: 

Heat oven to 400*F
In a bowl, toss the beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Place the sweet potatoes and onion in the bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat vegetables with the oil mixture.

Bake beets 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix sweet potato mixture with the beets on the baking sheet. Continue baking 45 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.

Yummy and ready in 1 hour 15 min! I served mine on a bed of arugula, but it would go as a nice side to a roast, or serve mixed with quinoa for protein!

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This recipe is courtesy of the fabulous Kristin Heineman. Kristin is a dear friend living up in Ft. Collins enjoying life as a hip professor of ancient times. When she’s not teaching and dreaming up wonderful recipes you’ll likely find her on the slopes kicking ass on her snowboard. Thanks for the recipe, Kristin! 

 

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Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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Ingredients

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

This recipe is courtesy of Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and tried and tested by me. You will not be sorry you tried this one and your friends will ask for the recipe.   

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