Monthly Archives: October 2013

Healthier Halloween Treats

6120740796_e37cee4552_qWith Halloween tomorrow, staying on track and keeping to your diet and weight loss goals can be a challenge.  Bags of chocolate, candy, cookies and baked goods fill grocery aisles, your coworkers leave baskets of treats in the office, your kids come home with handful of sweets- no wonder it is not easy to say no when presented with all these temptations!  To prevent sabotaging your hard work, it is important to plan ahead and decide how you will respond to each situation.  In addition, many of the treats found on store shelves are made with chemicals and additives that we can barely pronounce!  Information on which candies have the most toxic ingredients can be found here.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, many grocery stores now carry candies, chocolates and treats that are made without chemicals, food dyes, and pesticides, all which can affect a persons health.  The following treats are made with natural ingredients that are free of dyes, chemicals and preservatives, and are also organic and non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms).  This way you can enjoy a small treat while also taking care of your health.  And you can also feel better about distributing healthier treats to all the trick-or-treaters that ring your bell!

Have a safe and healthy Halloween!

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Rx: Nature

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Mother nature graces at all four cardinal points of the world. We are blessed with beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, parks, flowers, and a wide array of sunrise and sunset hues that keep us in awe if we just stop, look, and listen. Pay attention to the wonders of nature. When the mind, body, and soul need to heal…use the power of nature.

Citizens of our world, such as the Japanese practice Shinrin-yoku which is exercising in nature. As little as five minutes in spent in nature can decrease stress levels and decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol, boosts mood and self-esteem, and decrease blood sugar in diabetics just to say the least.

Consider a walk in your nearest park, by a lake, near a stream or by the beach where the positive effects of the ocean and its continuous waves pounding against the shore can sooth the mind, body, and soul.

Nature provides us many healing spaces. From the Tan Tan mountain top in Morocco, in Northeast Africa to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Take your pick of the natural resources readily available. Cast your worry, stress, and nerves aside in a natural space for a moment in time to improve your overall health.

Photo by:O’Connor College of Law License by:Flickr Creative Commons

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N is for Nuts

nuts varietyNutritionally, there is nothing nonchalant about nuts.  I’m sad for the unfortunate souls who can’t partake of nature’s nutritionally sound nuggets whose ‘nice’ list boasts fiber, vitamins, unsaturated fats, and Omega-3 fatty acids, and more.

The ‘naughty’ list isn’t so naughty when you compare a handful of dark chocolate covered nuts to other overly processed, sugar laden desserts.

I can’t think of a more versatile, portable snack that lends itself to both savory and sweet applications with minimal effort.  Nuts can take a simple salad to spectacular heights.

Their versatility places them not only front and center on your holiday cheese platter, but also finds them disguised as a gluten-free flour alternative that can turn a once forbidden cookie into a viable (and yummy) dessert option for the gluten intolerant.  As with any high-fat comestible, moderation is key.

If you’ve never deviated from the more ubiquitous peanut, I encourage you to try them all.  And when you’ve cracked and crunched to capacity, try a spoonful of healthful nut butter on your next slice of (whole grain) breakfast toast.  Consider adding almond milk to your morning coffee or your afternoon smoothie.  Impress your guests by whipping up a simple and delicious batch of pesto with your favorite combination of nuts and fresh herbs for a refreshing change from every day sauces. Basically (and in a nutshell)… just go nuts!

(As always, organic, unsalted, sugar free varieties offer the most healthful benefits).

Still need convincing?  Consider the following from the Mayo Clinic*:

The type of nut you eat isn’t that important, although some nuts have more heart-healthy nutrients and fats than do others. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts — you name it — almost every type of nut has a lot of nutrition packed into a tiny package. If you have heart disease, eating nuts instead of a less healthy snack can help you more easily follow a heart-healthy diet.

People who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower the LDL, low-density lipoprotein or “bad,” cholesterol level in their blood. High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease.

Eating nuts reduces your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also improve the health of the lining of your arteries. The evidence for the heart-healthy benefits of nuts isn’t rock solid — the Food and Drug Administration only allows food companies to say evidence “suggests but does not prove” that eating nuts reduces heart disease risk

Although it varies by nut, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

  • Unsaturated fats. It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s thought that the “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.
  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
  • Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
  • L-arginine. Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health

What amount of nuts is considered healthy?

  • Nuts contain a lot of fat; as much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it’s still a lot of calories. That’s why you should eat nuts in moderation. Ideally, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products.
  • Instead of eating unhealthy saturated fats, try substituting a handful of nuts. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won’t do your heart any good.

 Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat?

  • Possibly. Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts are one of the best-studied nuts, and it’s been shown they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. Even peanuts — which are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans — seem to be relatively healthy. Coconut, which is technically a fruit, may be considered by some to be a nut, but it doesn’t seem to have heart-healthy benefits. Both coconut meat and oil don’t have the benefits of the mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Keep in mind; you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.

Source:     *Mayo Clinic Online Health Forum 2012

Here’s a favorite (and easy) recipe for pesto.  Try it on top of steamed spaghetti squash for a healthful (lower carb) alternative. Recipe courtesy of Food Network (Michele Urvater).

Parsley Pesto

Prep Time:
5 min

Serves:  6-8
about 2  1/2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic
2 cups packed, stemmed Italian parsley
Coarse salt
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a food processor place the garlic, parsley, pinch salt, walnuts, and cheese. Process until they form a paste. Gradually blend in olive oil, taste adjust your seasoning if necessary. Great with pasta, poultry, vegetables and rice.

Written By: Michelle Frati, SJC Staff Member

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Being Green Just Got Easier

This is the homemade compost box that sits in the backyard behind my friend Ashley's home. Definitely a masterpiece, but who would want to walk out there multiple times a day? Lucky for us, the countertop composter has been invented!

This is the homemade compost box that sits in the backyard behind Ashley’s home. Definitely a masterpiece, but who would want to walk out there multiple times a day?

It always seems like the right thing to do is just a pain. For a while, composting was viewed as an annoying task in my household, to the point where family members began to argue over it.

My dad went out of his way to create a nice composting area in our backyard. The benefits of composting are obvious: it reduces the amount of waste in our landfills, creates fresh, rich soil that is great in the garden, and can save us money by eliminating our need for fertilizer. Composts are, however, not the best smelling outdoor attractions, which explains why my dad chose to put ours all the way in the furthest corner of the yard.

And so the debate begins.

What is worth walking all the way into the fringes of the yard to throw into the compost? Sure, an entire watermelon rind is worth the trip out there, especially on a nice sunny day in June. But what about two bad string beans that weren’t selected to go into the Thanksgiving Day casserole? Or one eggshell from an egg that was used to make a late night batch of organic chocolate chip cookies on a snowy night in December?

This became a constant argument in my household. Mom is the designated chef, who has enough going on with the oven going and two burners of the stove on. I could understand her decision to slip those little compostable items into the regular garbage instead of throwing shoes on to trek out to the backyard, but dad became annoyed. Why did he spend a day digging a hole and putting a fence around it if we weren’t going to put every single morsel of natural waste into it? Despite his pleas, the family slowly but surely abandoned all efforts to compost.

As an earth lover and a fan of our home grown vegetables, I began to wonder, “why isn’t there an easier way to compost?!

On a trip to visit a good friend / fellow environmentalist / yogini / mom of three in North Carolina, I discovered that my household wasn’t the only one that found composting to be a pain. My dear friend Ashley has committed herself to composting, yet found herself frustrated in similar situations as the ones described above. I mean really, how was she supposed to run out to the compost each time one of her kids ate an apple?

She, however, found a simple yet mind blowing answer to the issue: A Counter-Top Composter. The small pail that sits on her counter just next to the sink is specifically designed to hold compost items for days, allowing members of the household to easily throw their eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, and more, in the pail as needed. Equipped with charcoal to prevent odors and a tight lid to keep fruit flies from noticing the stash, the stylish container changed the entire game of composting; instead of having to run outside multiple times each day, composters everywhere can now make their trip to the big pile only once every few days.

To make YOUR green commitment a little bit easier, check out this Stainless-Steel Compost Pail from Williams-Sonoma.

For more information about how to start a compost pile or the benefits of composting read the information provided by the US EPA.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Brennan. Check out her Facebook Photo Album called From Seed (and Scratch) to Harvest to see photos of her organic garden. The adorable album shows her homemade backyard compost box, the cement lined garden plots, and the tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries and more that came from her hard work!

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60 Ways To Become The Person You LOVE!

Only the time and attention we give ourselves demonstrates how much we love and admire ourselves. Self love requires that we place ourselves at the top of our priority list. Self-nurturing is everything that makes us feel positive, happy and joyful.

When we decide to honor ourselves with the love we need and deserve like the sun we radiate a glow, touching everything and everyone in our lives.

Below are the first 30 ideas for glowing:

60. Eliminate shoulds.
59. Enjoy down time.
58. Run towards your fears.
57. Be dependable.
56. Embrace self-responsibility.
55. Be completely honest.
54. First meet your own needs.
53. Notice the beauty around you.
52. Open your mind to change.
50. Set attainable goals.
49. Go at your own pace.
48. Honor your individuality.
47. Open yourself to umlimited possibilities.
46. See the humor in things.
45. Celebrate your imperfections.
44. Reward yourself.
43. Be flexible.
42. Be gentle with yourself.
41. Be open to being wrong.
40. Laugh for no reason.
39. Light candles.
38. Enjoy nature.
37. Get a message.
36. Congratulate yourself.
35. Know yourself.
34. Appreciate where you are today.
33. Give yourself space.
32. Breathe mindfully.
31. Communicate your emotions.

Next week the last 30.

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Ashtanga Yoga | The Eight Limbs of Yoga

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he describes Ashtanga Yoga, or the Eight Limbs of Yoga, a system for living a peaceful and fulfilling life through awareness and contemplation. The Eight Limbs are:

Yama (Restraints)
Niyama (Observances)
Asana (Postures)
Pranayama (Breath Control)

Pratyahara (Introversion)
Dharana (Concentration)
Dhyana (Meditation)
Samadhi (Integration)

Before we get too in depth, according to Patanjali, the Eight Limbs are practiced in order, adding the next to the previous as one continues to progress. The reason for this is to slowly and mindfully move through the various layers of the self, preparing the individual for deeper levels of practice.

Often times one will see the Eight Limbs split into two parts, as they are above. The reason for this is because the first four facilitate the last four.  An individual would begin with the Yamas, then begin to include the Niyamas. Once these are being practiced then one would incorporate Asana, and then Pranayama. These four begin to cultivate awareness of the true self.

After having practiced the first four consistently, the last four limbs start to become accessible. I say accessible because they are more abstract than the first four because the first four are things one does, where as the last four are things one achieves. Once Pratyahara has been accomplished, the next stage is Dharana, then a deeper level in Dhyana, and the ultimate achievement being the final limb Samadhi. These four limbs begin to cultivate contemplation of the true self.

I’ve gone over the Yamas so far. Have you been practicing them? Just as a reminder they are: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aparigraha. Over the next few weeks I’ll go over the rest of the Limbs, picking back up with the Niyamas, and we’ll slowly and mindfully make our way to Samadhi.

Categories: Relaxation Space, Yoga & Meditation | 3 Comments

“Love After Love”- A Poem about Self- Love

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
Thank you to Dr. Anissa Moody for this contribution.
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Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

Lymphatic Drainage Therapy originated in Belgium in the early 19th century. LDT is also known as decongestion therapy. It is used to treat lymphedema, which is swelling in the legs and arms caused by blocked or damaged blood vessels.

The lymphatic system, drains waste and toxic substances that may be causing swelling or other health problems. Toxins build up in cells, and proteins accumulate, tissues fail to regenerate properly and healing becomes compromised. Lymphatic drainage therapy clears these pathways using the natural flow of fluid via wave-like rhythmic massage. Lymph nodes transport electrolytes, hormones, proteins, and toxins through the body. These nodes also contain lymphocytes and macrophages essential for immune system functioning.

Lymphatic drainage therapy providers utilize their fingers in light, feathery massage to redirect the flow of lymphatic fluid in specific areas of the body. It is with precise rhythm, pressure, and direction using massage that they clear stagnant fluid from lymph nodes. Activating fluidity and flow in blocked lymph
nodes seem to detoxify the body for overall health improvement.

Therapists use a person’s human anatomy to detect direction of lymphatic flow in a technique called mapping. This is done manually to evaluate lymph node flow at several layers of the body. Once the direction is identified, lymphatic drainage therapy involves gentle massage technique in the same direction to clear any blockages.

The Therapeutic technique uses massage to treat different ailments such as arthritis, bronchitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, immune disorders, as well some inflammatory disorders. LDT also improves tissue health. People use Lymphatic drainage therapy to get rid of excess fat and cellulite and as an anti-aging resource.

Always discuss and obtain an evaluation from your Primary Care Physician before starting any new health regimen.

For more information, please click here and here

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Spaces (inbtw) Thoughts

7777As we move through our days millions of thoughts stream through our minds like a running brook carrying us to places we like and places we dislike. The mind’s function, at least in part, is to actually think thoughts. Yet, there is another function that has become evident – to notice the spaces in between the thoughts.

Like the breath that transitions from an inhale to exhale, exhale to inhale, there exists a space, a slight pause before each inhale becomes and exhale and each exhale becomes an inhale. Confused yet? Good, that tends to get our minds out if it’s habitual way of thinking and for at least a moment, we experience this () space.

So how on Earth do we find this space in between our thoughts and why should we? Well, why not I say since it exists for some unknown reason far beyond my understanding AND since it provides relief and perspective to this wild roll coaster we have affectionately come to know as – Life.

Sample practice to get in touch with the space in between our thoughts as one can do this countless ways:

  • Wherever you are, start there – pay close attention to each and every thought as one thought (conveniently?) links to another.
  • Slow your thoughts down 1( )by( )1
  • Feel the aliveness in your body
  • Connect with your breath and the spaces that exist after each exhale and each inhale

…now that some awareness has arisen, be aware of what you go filling up all that space with…

“Three  things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the  truth” ~Buddha

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Jones Beach Breast Cancer Walk

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

5 Mile Walk on “The Boardwalk”

Parking Field 5 (Zachs Bay)
Rolling Start between 8-11AM

CLICK HERE TO SHARE

 

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