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Advice for Life

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Advice for Life

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I know it's not yet officially fall, but as soon as September 1st arrived, it sure felt like it here in the Pacific Northwest. As much as I want summer to hang in there providing us with more warm sunshine, I have always loved fall, and embrace the change. The cool crisp air, leaves changing, harvesting the garden, getting scarves & boots out, and soup season. I'm not saying I'm totally ready yet. I'd love to have just a bit more summer, and I'm sure we'll get it, but this early September cool down reminded me how much I love the change of seasons. Every season has it's charm and own energy, and I like change.

As I was gazing at the trees the other day, noticing that the color changing in the leaves a bit already, I remembered one of my favorite poems. This poem has always been special to me. In my opinion it's some of the best life advice around, presented in such a beautiful way.

I decided I wanted to share it with you here. Enjoy!

Advice From a Tree

 By, Ilan Shamir

Dear Friend,Stand Tall and ProudSink your roots deeply into the EarthReflect the light of a greater sourceThink long termGo out on a limbRemember your place among all living beingsEmbrace with joy the changing seasonsFor each yields its own abundanceThe Energy and Birth of SpringThe Growth and Contentment of SummerThe Wisdom to let go of leaves in the FallThe Rest and Quiet Renewal of WinterFeel the wind and the sunAnd delight in their presenceLook up at the moon that shines down upon youAnd the mystery of the stars at night.Seek nourishment from the good things in lifeSimple pleasuresEarth, fresh air, lightBe content with your natural beautyDrink plenty of waterLet your limbs sway and dance in the breezesBe flexibleRemember your rootsEnjoy the view!

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The above picture of me was captured by my dear friend, Renae on my birthday a couple of years ago in the redwoods of northern California. Having a moment with one of those majestic trees, giving thanks for another year of this beautiful life.

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Close to the Source

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Close to the Source

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You are what you eat. It's true. The food you eat literally builds the cells in your body.

This is why I'm on my soapbox about eating whole foods a lot. Our bodies want and know what to do with the nutrition that whole foods give us. They don't necessarily want or know what to do with processed foods with lots of questionable ingredients.

A whole food is a food that has not been processed or refined (or very little processing), and doesn't contain additives or other artificial ingredients.

Think of it as eating food as close to the source as possible. Let's take tomatoes for an example. As close to the source as possible is going out into your garden, plucking them off the plant and popping them in your mouth. Second close would be buying locally grown tomatoes at a farmer's market, from a local CSA, or food co-op. Third close would be buying tomatoes from a large grocery store chain that was grown in some other state (or for many foods another country). Fourth would be getting into canned tomato sauces & salsas. Fifth would be more refined like tomato paste, or a more processed version as an ingredient in many other packaged, processed foods.

When the goal is to give your body the best nutrition available in food, you want to go for as close to the source as possible! Home grown and locally grown produce is more rich in nutrients and enzymes, and it's more flavorful. It's allowed to ripen on the plant, it's fresh, and it's whole. These foods are what what you body wants and knows exactly what to do with. Eating this way leads to a happy, healthy body that is dis-ease free, feels good, and is full of energy.

I wanted to write about this today, because this is the time of year when getting so much of your food close to the source is so much easier! It's the end of august. People's gardens are overflowing, the farmer's markets are abundant, the small local food co-ops are teaming with fresh local produce, and even if you don't garden, depending on where you live, there can be an abundance of food that you can be taking advantage of right in your back yards!

How can you take advantage of the abundance?

Here is 5 ways:

1. If you are able to, grow some of your own food. If you can't grow a garden where you live, you could do something as little having a few pots of fresh herbs on your porch or window sill! There is nothing in the world like grabbing fresh food that you've grown yourself and putting it directly into your meal! Those of you that know this, know this. Those of you that have not experimented with growing some of your own food, I suggest doing what you can. Play with it in little ways. It's also a great way to really get connected with your food, and helps you to be more conscious of where all of your food comes from. There are also so many neighborhood/community gardens popping up. Take advantage of these! You can learn a lot about gardening from others by starting this way as well!

2. Frequent farmers markets. Join a CSA. Shop at your local food co-op if you have one. Stop at the local farm stand, or veggie stand. Eat local fresh foods where ever you can find them

3. Make friends with your neighbors that garden. Seriously. You want to be their friend! Gardening can be a lot of work to upkeep, and there comes a time of year when every gardener feels overwhelmed by the amount of food coming out of the garden, and there is only so much time to preserve what you can't eat right away. Offer some of your time to help them out in the garden, or with preserving and you are sure to reap some of the rewards of delicious home grown food! The extra reward is a new friendship and learning about gardening.

4. How often do you see a neighborhood apple tree, pear tree, or plum tree that is over-loaded and not being utilized? Talk to the owners and ask if it's okay to pick some. If you see a ground full of apples, and strained branches full of fruit, chances are they would be more than happy to let you harvest some!

5. Wild foraging! Unless you live in a large city, chances are there are opportunities to get out and do some wild foraging, especially for berries! (know what you are picking of course! This is important as some wild berries, mushrooms, & plants can harm you) I'm blessed to live in the beautiful pacific northwest where this time of year, almost anywhere I go outside has wild blackberries available with in arms reach. I could never pick and eat them all, they are so abundant. Learning about wild foraging can be really interesting. Find someone you know to learn from, find a MeetUp group that you can learn from, or educate yourself on the web. From harvesting delicious ramps, stinging nettles, fiddle heads, and mushrooms in spring to berries at the end of summer. There is literally endless amounts of food in our forests if you are interested in learning about them, and harvesting some of your own. Looking for a new hobby? This one could be fun.

Enjoy taking advantage of this delicious season!

Wishing you Wellness,

Shelly

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Change Your Story

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Change Your Story

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You know those times in life when it seems like so many people around you are really struggling with something or multiple life things, including yourself?  This seems to be the theme lately for me. It seems that every time I turn around, I'm hearing a new story about something tough that someone I care about is dealing with, and my life hasn't exactly felt like a piece of cake in many ways recently either. I thought it would be a good time to talk about changing our stories. I've been focusing a lot lately on 'changing my story' which can help any situation that may feel hard to deal with into one that can also feel like a blessing. It can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with uncomfortable circumstances, and leave us feeling grateful for a situation that we previously felt cursed by.

What do I mean by this?

Let me give you an example....

You arrive at work on Friday, and are called into the office to find out that you are getting laid off. You are shocked. Your initial story may sound something like this:

"I can't believe they laid me off with no warning! I didn't see this coming. How am I supposed to support myself? I barely get by living paycheck to paycheck as it is! My rent is due, and I've been saving a little and was really hoping to finally be able to afford to go on a vacation in a couple of months. There is no way I'm going to make it financially. I haven't updated my resume in years, and have no idea where to begin looking for a job. This sucks! Why is this happening to me? What am I going to do? I feel helpless."

It's pretty normal to react to a situation such as this with alarm, fear, and a story that doesn't feel good. The fact that you are getting laid off is not something that you can change. So, in this situation, what DO you have the control of changing? You can change your story. And it could sound something like this:

"Wow, I can hardly believe that they laid me off! This feels shocking, but if I think about it, I guess I saw some signs that this may be coming. Even though this feels scary, I'm going to choose to look at this as a blessing in disguise. I really haven't been very happy in this job recently. It's caused me a lot of stress, and I've been working hard, and still living paycheck to paycheck which has felt uncomfortable, but I've been too fearful to quit. Perhaps they have done me a big favor by pushing me out to find something better. I have a good friend who I know will help me spruce up my resume, and a community of people that I can reach out to in search of a new job. Since I'm getting laid off, I can collect unemployment for the time being to pay my rent, and I had some money tucked away in preparation for a vacation soon. I guess I get some time off now! Maybe I can use some of that money to cover some expenses and choose to visit some friends and stay with them for a cheaper vacation instead. I'm glad I have that option. I've been considering going back to school, or switching professions to something that is more fulfilling for me and provides me with a better income anyway. I guess this is the push I needed! I may not have done it on my own! I'm so excited to figure out what is next for me!"

Isn't that a HUGE difference?

I could continue with example after example, but you all are smart cookies, and I know you get the picture. We can change the story no matter what the experience is.

What's going on for you right now? Is there a negative story you have been telling around something that feels challenging in your life?

How can you change it? If you can change your story, you can change how your whole experience feels and how the situation effects you.

My challenge to you this week is to change your story. Pick one thing that you know you have been telling a negative story about and change it. Write it out. Tell a loved one. When people ask about it, tell your new & improved positive story rather than the doom and gloom one, and see how it feels.

How do you change it? Simply tap into the positives of it. Every situation has things to be grateful for, sometimes we have to look harder, but they are always there. Talk it out. Write it out. Work on it until it's a story that feels better to tell. I know you've got it in you.

Wishing you wellness,

Shelly

 

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Improve the Relationships in Your Life

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Improve the Relationships in Your Life

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There are a lot of things in life that feed us other than what is on our plate. Healthy relationships is a big one. You can eat all the spinach and chia seeds in the world, but if you have relationships in your life that are unbalanced and create stress, or simply a lack of connecting in relationships, it can affect not only your daily life, but your health as well. There are studies that suggest a lot of health benefits to having fulfilling relationships in our life, and we all know how much they can enhance how great our lives feel. On the contrary, having relationships that are challenging and create stress can cause ill health effects in our bodies, and take away from a life that feels really good. The absence of relationships and deep connections with people can also be a downfall for our health, and our happiness.

It's important to remember that we are all wired for connection and have an essential need to give and receive love.

Relationships can be challenging. All kinds of relationships from romantic partners, to co-workers, family, & friends. They can also help us grow tremendously if we are open to the growth. I'm a firm believer that the challenges in relationships are one of our biggest teachers in life!

Part of having a life that is healthy & feels fulfilling is making sure that we are keeping balanced in all areas. It's a good thing to check in with ourselves here from time to time, even if there isn't something major drawing our attention to the topic.

Some questions to ask yourself:

How are you doing in the area of relationships?

Are you aware of what your needs and desires are in the area of relationships?

Is there a relationship that you could improve by doing some work? Some clear communicating?

Are you feeling fulfilled in the area of relationships? Where could you do some work?

What are you craving? Is something missing for you in this area?

I'm a firm believer in continual personal work. The school of life continues as long as we are in this body. If you are on a path of self growth, I invite you to focus this week on your relationships. Take some time with the above questions, and then ask yourself this:

What came up for you as you answered the above questions?

Where could you benefit from putting some focus?

What is a specific action step that you can take this week to work on improving in the area of relationships?

I use the words 'action step', because we really do need to take action to create the life we want. We can talk about things until we are blue in the face, and it's great exploratory work, but until we put things into action, we are left with little actual change in life.

Here's my challenge to you for the week: After exploring the questions above, think of at least one solid 'action step' that you can do in the next week that will help you in some way in the area of relationships. This will look different for everyone. Ask yourself what would make the biggest difference for you right now, and follow through with it! You deserve to live a full, healthy, balanced life and working on healthy relationships to support that is an important piece.

Having a hard time deciding what a great action step could be for you? I've created a list of ideas to inspire you below!

Wishing you all a beautiful week full of time with the people that fill you up!

Shelly

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Action Steps to Improve The Relationships in Your Life:

#1. View each relationship with gratitude. The relationships that feel challenging can often teach us the most about ourselves. If you are currently struggling with any relationship in your life, take a little time to write a list about what you are grateful for or appreciate in that person. Maybe it is someone that you would want to show that list to? Or perhaps that list is just for you, to shift how you feel about that person to a more loving & appreciative way.

#2. Take time to communicate in close relationships. Take a few moments to express to each other what you both appreciate about your relationship, and what you feel like is going well. Taking a little time to express this can greatly increase the closeness. Then take turns expressing one or two aspects of your relationship that you wish to improve. Practice communicating about and hearing these things without blame, and focus on solutions.

#3. Focus on sharing passions, and fun time. Whether this is your significant other, or a friend or family member that you would like to feel closer to, focusing on meaningful and fun time helps the relationships deepen, and creates more fun!

#4. Create space to spend quality time together. It's so common for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and feel like we don't have time to really connect. It really doesn't take much to create even a little bit of quality time with someone you love if it is intentional. A couple of hours at a coffee shop, or a walk in the evening at the end of your day in good conversation can be great quality time. Put your phone away and make it quality time.

#5. Focus on the present, and let go of past things you may be holding grudges about. We are all imperfect humans and we all mess up sometimes. When we love someone, there are times that we need to allow the space for them to be human, forgive them, let go of grudges, and move on. Holding onto grudges is damaging, not just for the relationship, but for your own health & wellbeing. Forgiving someone and letting go of it is not just an act of love towards that person & the relationship, but it's a huge act of self-love as it hurts us to carry around such things. 

#6. Don’t take relationships for granted. Openly appreciate them! Express gratitude. Tell someone how much you appreciate them and why in person, via a message, or send them a card! It feels really good for both of you!

#7. Intentionally get to know each other better. Ask new questions, explore new things. We are all such complex creatures with different life stories & different passions. It's easy to become complacent in relationships that we have had for a while, and halt the 'getting to know each other' part. There is always more to learn about someone in your life, and learning more brings you closer. This can also be applied to someone new in your life that you'd like to create a stronger friendship with. Be curious in your conversation, and they will respond. Most of us LOVE to talk about ourselves :)

#8. Offer help & support. Is someone you care about struggling with something right now? Or maybe they are moving or working on a big home project that you know has them stressed? Reach out and offer your help & support. I think we know who our friends are when people show up to help you move or offer you a ride to the airport. Offering of help & support is so important in relationships. We really do need each other sometimes, and it can end up being great quality time as well.

#9. Take responsibility. Maybe you've messed up, and haven't admitted it. Maybe there is something that you could have handled with much more grace than you did. Maybe whatever it is, is still bothering you. Reach out, take responsibility and make the apology. It's so good to 'clear the air' so to speak on these things.

#10. Reach out to someone far away that you haven't kept in good touch with. I think we all have people in our lives that live far away from us that we care about deeply. Although our intentions maybe good, we are not so good at keeping in touch. Reach out to that person that you think about often, and let them know that you think about them, miss them, and take a little time to check in and see how they are.

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Eating Healthy On The Go!

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Eating Healthy On The Go!

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You know how to eat healthy, and it's pretty easy at home, but how on earth to you navigate away from the junk and convenience foods when you are on the go and traveling? The struggle is real! Summertime lends itself to lots of being on the go. From road trips & weekends away to day trips and picnics. Whatever you are getting into in the summer, for many of us it means a lot more running around.

It's a lot easier to keep on track with healthy eating when we are at home in the kitchen preparing our meals & snacks, and it's really easy to falter in healthy eating and lean towards grabbing convenience foods that are less healthy when we are busy, on the go, and on the road. Agreed?

I love road trips and have spent a lot of time on the road, traveling, and otherwise seem to keep an active schedule of busy & running around somehow, especially in summer. Over the years I've found great, easy foods for traveling with, because let's face it...If we are left with the option of grabbing food to go when we are traveling or even just running around town for a day, we are a lot less likely to make choices that treat our body well. Eating healthy, especially when traveling is so important. Besides the obvious reasons, it keeps us feeling good when we are out having fun... to keep the fun part at optimum levels!

I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite go-to foods if I'm on the go for the day, or on the road for a bit. I almost always prep ahead of time, and am sure to have what I need with me, whether it's snacks or a quick meal, or a basket of food and a small cooler for longer road trips. A little preparation sets me up for success, and leaves me feeling good.

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My favorite on the go foods:

  1. Nuts & seeds: They are high in protein and good fats, and can keep you nourished and feeling really satisfied as a snack between meals. I almost always have some in my bag for those moments that I need on the daily, as well as when I'm traveling.
  2. Nut butters and fruit, veggies, & rice cakes: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter are all great. Apples, bananas, or celery are delicious with any of them. A rice cake with some nut butter, and apple or banana is a hugely satisfying snack or small meal. Just dip your celery in your nut butter for an easy on the go & satisfying snack.
  3. Hummus and veggies: Hummus is packed with protein & good fats, and is delicious with really any vegetable you like, which makes for a very satisfying snack or meal. Some carrots, red bell peppers, broccoli, and jicama cut up and ready to munch with some hummus, and I'm very happy.
  4. Power shake made by PURIUM: I've fallen in love with this company and their products this year. Their green power shake is packed with green goodness, quite filling, and absolutely delicious. It's rare that I leave the house for a day with out my shaker bottle and some power shake powder to have an instant green juice. I CRAVE this daily, and is often my mini-meal when I'm on the go. (If you are interested in PURIUM products, drop me a line! I'd love to share more, and give you a gift certificate to try them out!)
  5. Fruit: Simple, right? Bringing fruit with you on the road is great. It always makes great snacks, provides great fiber which is important when you are traveling to keep regular, and it satisfies those sweet cravings when they arise!
  6. Kale Chips: I've been making a lot of kale chips recently as my garden has been providing a bounty. A basic recipe is easy to make, and they help me get my greens in while satisfying a salty, crunchy, snacky craving. If you have't made them before, I really recommend it. They are easy & delicious!
  7. Salsa, beans, avocado, and tortilla chips: When I'm truly road tripping or camping, this is a regular go to because it's so satisfying and unless I buy fresh salsa that needs to be refrigerated, I don't even need to use the cooler, except for any leftovers. I mix the salsa, can of black or pinto beans (drained), and cut up avocado in chunks all together, and I have a dip for the chips that is super tasty, full of protein, good fats, and very filling. I sometimes pick up some salad greens and toss the dip in, and crunch a few tortilla chips on top for an amazing taco salad. I also sometimes just eat the beans, avocado, & salsa with a spoon :)
  8. Hard boiled eggs. If you eat eggs, they are a tasty & satisfying dose of protein on the go. If I have a cooler with me, there's usually some in there.
  9. Smoothies are great when you are heading out for the day and have a small cooler with. When I add a lot of goodness to a smoothie and include protein, it's a small meal that keeps me satisfied for a long time.
  10. Homemade energy bars There are so many great, simple recipes out there. When you make them yourself, you know what's in them and can control the amount of sugars, as many store bought ones, are loaded, and they are easy to throw in your bag & go.
  11. Wraps & sandwiches: If you are hitting the road for a day or two, packing up a few wraps or sandwiches is always a great way to go.
  12. Quinoa salad: If you have a small cooler with, quinoa salad is a great to-go salad. Really you can do anything you want here mixing your favorite dressing with your favorite veggies. Just chop some veggies, cook some quinoa, and toss it all with a little dressing of your choice. You could also add some beans for an extra hearty meal. This is the kind of salad that will stay tasting fresh for while.
  13. Cottage cheese & yogurt. If you have a cooler & eat dairy, having a container of cottage cheese or yogurt is a great addition to the road food. Add some fruit, and you are really in business.

 

I feel like I could go on with these Ideas, but what I have listed is many of my usuals. I'd love to hear what kind of foods you like to take on the go with you! Feel free to share in the comments!

Wishing you Wellness!

Shelly

 

 

 

 

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Self Care For The Busy Summer Bee!

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Self Care For The Busy Summer Bee!

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Summer is busy! This seems to be a topic of conversation with whoever I talk to lately. With the beautiful weather and so much going on, we can try to pack more into the few months of summer than we do all year. Plans every weekend, trips, extra events to attend during the week, and the draw to be more active outside, on top of our regular schedules. Yes, many of the things that keep us busy in summer are fun, but still can have a tendency to lead to some feelings of burn out, drained, tiredness, and generally feeling like we are constantly buzzing around like a busy bee! Whether it's summer time, or anytime we feel caught up in the whirlwind of life, it's such a good thing to remember how important self care is. We all know the basics. Eating healthy and getting adequate sleep & exercise are important to feel good in order to keep up with life. Being a busy bee can be fun, and all the summer fun can nourish us in great ways, but are you doing things to relax? Rejuvenate? Treat yourself & your body? What things are you doing to 'fill your cup'? What kind of things are you doing that allow some down time to feed the energy you need to keep up with the busyness life?

I've been feeling a bit caught up in the whirlwind of life lately myself, and have been hearing from so many people about how they have been as well. With this in mind, I thought I'd share with you today a list of ways that you can step out of the busy whirlwind of summer, stop your buzzing around for periods of time,  and take some rejuvenating time for self care. Making the time for some of these self care practices can make a huge positive difference in how you feel. When you are doing things to keep your cup full, everything else seems much easier to manage, and your can find yourself enjoying the busy summer life more.

If you've been feeling the buzz, and know you could benefit from taking some time for self care, the 10 tips below are for you! Pick one that you feel drawn to and start there! Making a little time to take good care of yourself can help the busy buzzing around of summer feel so much more enjoyable, and less exhausting!

Wishing you wellness!

Shelly

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10 Self Care Tips For The Busy Summer Bee:

  1. Take some time to care for your body. Maybe it's a long bath or spa night at home. Maybe it's going to a spa for a treatment or relaxing afternoon. It could be a massage or acupuncture session. Choose what feels best for you. Whatever it is, create some quiet time to give your body some love, so it feels rejuvenated!
  2. Cloud watching or start gazing! Summer is a great time to throw  blanket on the ground or find a cozy hammock to nestle into and take some time to just stare at the sky. Taking a few minutes to just sit still and soak up some sun rays can be a wonderful break too.
  3. Work on being more present with your normal routines of the day like brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, and eating your breakfast. Allowing yourself to be fully present with the normal mundane tasks of your day, rather than rushing through them while thinking about everything else you need to do with the rest of your day allows you to own that time as yours. Starting your day by doing the tasks of your morning routine being fully present helps it to feel more relaxing and could turn it into 'you time' rather than time where your brain is consumed with all the other on-goings of your day & your life.
  4. Take some time to meditate, even if only for a short while. Starting your day with even a short meditation can set the tone for your whole day mentally and emotionally. It can also start your day off with a feeling of having some of your own time before you head into a full & busy day. Taking a couple of minutes to meditate in the middle of your busy day can really help to reset you as well, and leave you feeling recharged. In the middle of your busy day, take a minute to just close your eyes, and check in with yourself on your thoughts & feelings on the day. Take a minute to check in with how your body is feeling and know if there is anything that it needs. Then just take a minute to breathe and focus on your breath. Taking these 3 minutes in the middle of the day can work wonders. Try it and see!
  5. Unplug from electronics and social media for periods of time. Depending on your usage and work, maybe this means checking out  from electronics for a certain time of the day, or creating a healthy morning routine that involves not checking in online for the first hour or two of your day. It could mean taking weekends off of social media, or an entire week off. Whatever you can make work for you. Most of us have a tendency to be too attached here, and giving yourself intentional breaks is wonderful and recharging! It's not until you give yourself a break, that you really realize how much of your time & energy these things can consume you.
  6. Take yourself on a date and do something that is very relaxing for you. Maybe it is going to a movie, sitting in the park with a good book and a great lunch, or antique store perusing....whatever you find most relaxing on your own. Make a little time to just relax and treat yourself in this way.
  7. Take some time to journal. Use this time however it will best serve you. Write out things that have been bothering you,  celebrate the things that are going great for you, journal about what you are grateful for, use it as a tool to make a decision you are having a hard time with, or simply just write about whatever comes up. Journaling can be beneficial in so many ways, and is great time to stop and be introspective.
  8. Take some time to just 'be'. Curl up on the couch with a good book. Sit on your porch and listen to the birds sing. Sit on a park bench and people watch. Bring a floating device to a lake and just float.  If you are someone who struggles with constantly moving and being busy, making just a little bit of time here can really help to recharge  and calm you. If you are a really busy bee, be patient with yourself here. It may take a little time to relax about taking time to relax!
  9. Say 'NO' more often. We don't have to say yes to everything. Recognize when you are feeling tired, busy, or overwhelmed, and have the ability to say no to things, events, favors, or whatever is being asked of you. Many of us have a hard time saying 'no'. It  can take practice to have this become an easier thing, so start practicing! Ease up on the pressure you put on yourself in this way, and know that when you say 'no' to things, you are saying 'yes' to yourself by protecting your time, your energy, and taking good care of yourself. We can't be everything for everyone, attend everything, or do everything that is presented to us, or we would end up being depleted. This is an important thing to learn, and a huge gift to yourself.
  10. Especially when you are really busy, make a point to do at least one thing a day just for you. Just one nice thing for yourself. Treat yourself to something nurturing or rejuvenating...Even if it is just a little break in the day. You may not feel like you have the time on busy days, but make the time. We make time for so many things that are important in life. We can make the time for ourselves. It's the most important thing.

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Clean Eating 101 - Part 2

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Clean Eating 101 - Part 2

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Last week I published the first part of Clean Eating 101, where I discussed why we want to strive to eat clean, as well as what it really means to eat clean. If you missed this blog post, you can read it here: Clean Eating 101.

Today is part 2 of Clean Eating 101 where I'm going to share with you some practical ways to actually start eating cleaner. It's one thing to know what it means to eat clean, and know why you want to do it, but the 'how' part is the really important one right? If we want to make actual changes in our life, having strategies on how to create the change is important.

When making changes with your diet, I have one big piece of advice: baby steps. Making small changes a little bit at a time is much more sustainable than trying to make a lot of big change all at once. Take a suggestion or two from this blog post and start working on them. Celebrate the small changes you've made, then add more positive change! Learning to eat clean isn't something that happens over night. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process! You'll be surprised how big of a difference a small change can make. 

Wishing you Wellness!

Shelly

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11 practical Ways to Start Eating Cleaner:

1. My TOP suggestion for really making change: Once per week purchase 1 whole food that is new to you. There are a plethora of fruits veggies, grains, beans, nuts, seeds out there to try to experiment with. Maybe it is as simple as trying a new fruit or roasting a vegetable that is new to you, or maybe you are trying out a new dinner recipe, or have found a simple great way to prepare that new food online. Just get yourself trying 1 new whole food per week. Even if you only like 1/2 of them, at the end of a year, you will have 26 new whole foods in your diet! 

2. Reference the Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen list HERE to understand when its really important to buy organic and when it's not as important.  Be sure you are buying organic when it comes to the dirty dozen list, as these are the foods that are most heavily laden with chemicals. 

3. Give yourself permission to play in the kitchen and be creative! You might mess up sometimes, or not like something you create but that’s okay! The more you play, the more comfortable you get with cooking from scratch, the easier it will get, & the more you will eat whole healthy foods!

4. Find healthier substitutions. Take a look at your diet. What do you consume regularly that you know is not great for you? Seek out healthier substitutions to start adding in, so you are not feeling deprived. 

5. Read Labels! If you can’t pronounce or know the origin of the ingredient, then find another option.

6. Give your taste buds a second chance! (or a third, or fourth) Some foods that are really good for us are a matter of acquired taste. Sometimes it takes the right preparation. Our tastebuds change over time.  Keep trying things over & over. 

7. Remember that the more fresh foods we eat, the more our bodies will crave them. The more processed foods we eat, the more our bodies will crave them. Be patient as you transition to eating cleaner, you will learn to love it more & more the longer you stick to it. 

8. Try to do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the store. Shop local farmers markets. Join a CSA. Grow some of your own food if you are able. Learn to shop & acquire your food differently. 

9. Keep Healthy snacks like nuts & fruit always available & with you so that you are less tempted to grab something processed. 

10. Remember 80/20 rule. It's not what you do ALL of the time, it's what you do MOST of the time. If you can eat really clean 80% of the time, then feel okay with indulging a bit sometimes. Aiming for perfection in anything can lead us to feel disappointed in ourselves. Don't expect perfection of yourself in anything, including how you eat. Allow some flexibility. 

11. Don’t drink your calories. Pay attention to the ingredients & sugar content of your drinks. Drink mostly pure, clean water. 

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Clean Eating 101

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Clean Eating 101

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Are you eating clean? Do you want to eat cleaner? Maybe you want to learn to eat cleaner, but you are not sure where to start?  This Clean Eating 101  blog post is just for you! I've got a lot to say on this matter, but I'm going to keep it simple and straight forward. In this post I am going to talk about why we want to eat clean in the first place. It sounds good, right? But what are the actual benefits of cleaning up our eating? Secondly, I'll cover the basics of clean eating so that you have a clear understanding of what it means & what kind changes you would like to make.

Next week, I'll publish part 2 of Clean Eating 101 where I'll talk about practical ways you can incorporate more clean eating into your diet. What are the action steps you can take to really create change? Be sure to check back next week!

WHY EAT CLEAN?

There is hundreds of reasons, but here is just a quick dozen for you to ponder:

1. You are what you eat. Literally. The nourishment you put into your body is like the building blocks for your cells! These cells that make up your body is what perform all of the amazing functions that you want your body to be able to successfully manage! 

2. Giving your body the nutrition that it needs to function properly gives it the ability to heal itself, be free of disease, and feel good. 

3. It keeps you feeling more satisfied & nourished. If you are giving your body the proper nutrition of healthy whole foods, you are less likely to over eat and/or want to reach for junk foods. 

4. Helps to maintain your blood sugar. Maintaining your blood sugar affects how you feel from moment to moment! Are you familiar with the term "hangry"? I'm sure you can find it in the urban dictionary, but people use this term to describe their mood when they feel angry & hungry. "Hangry" is generally a result of your blood sugar dropping. 

5. Makes it much easier to loose and maintain a healthy weight. Eliminating processed foods and sugary drinks can go a long way here. 

6. Can cause clear skin! Remember, your skin issues have a lot more to do with what you put on the inside, than what you put on the outside. Your new skin cells are created from the inside, and having healthy looking skin starts with great nutrition & clean eating!

7. Can cause improved energy levels. We all want to have great energy right? Nourish your body with the right foods, and you will have plenty!

8. Can cause improved mood. Feeding your body good, clean nutrition helps you to feel better, gives your brain cells what they need, and can also help to balance hormones which greatly affects mood. 

9. Can cause reduction of headaches. For many people, the added chemicals and preservatives in processed foods can be the source of nuisances like headaches. Speaking from my own experience, I had debilitating migraines from the time I was 6 years old into my early 20's. The cleaner my eating got, the less I had them. At age 39, I honestly don't remember the last time I had a migraine. I also know someone that gets a migraine if she ingests anything with red food dye. If you struggle with headaches or migraines....eating cleaner could help!

10. Can help keep you regular. Our health starts in our gut, and healthy, daily, bowel movements are so important. It's how our body gets rid of waste! Not properly eliminating can cause a whole slew of health concerns. Eating lots of whole clean foods with good fiber content helps you to keep much more regular, which supports your health and level of comfort greatly. 

11. It positively affects the environment. We all want to do our part to keep the planet that supports us healthy right? Supporting clean, organic farming practices, and less processed foods and factory farmed animal products can go a long way in this.

12. The ripple effect! If you are eating good & feeling good, you are more likely to take care of yourself in other ways, and create a feeling of wellness will spill into other areas of your life! The ripple effect also spreads out to your family & community as you set an example of healthy eating for all of those around you!

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Now, let's talk about what it really means to 'eat clean'? If you google 'clean eating' you will get endless results to read. I've created a simple list here for you of my 9 top ideas to keep in mind when you are trying to eat cleaner.

BASICS OF CLEAN EATING

1. EAT WHOLE FOODS

  • Think about eating as close to the source as possible.
  • Maximum nutrition when it is closest to the source - fresh & local is best.
  • Some processing is okay. An example would be oats, you can’t just eat the oat plant & digest it.
  • Try to eat a rainbow of colors! Eating a rainbow means that you are nourishing your body with a rainbow of different phytonutrients.
  • Whole foods fill you up and fuel you, unlike empty calories.
  • High fiber content keeps your digestive system in tip top shape, which is essential for optimal health & wellness.

2. AVOID PROCESSED FOOD

  • Read labels, if you can’t pronounce or don’t know the source,  then skip it.    
  • Try to imagine how the ingredient grows as you read the label. If you can't, reconsider.
  • Ignore the health claims on packaged foods such as natural, low fat, heart healthy…. be suspicious of these. Remember that it is It’s marketing, and doesn't mean that product is healthy. It is up to you to read the label, and learn what you want to put in your body, and what is better to skip.

3.    AVOID REFINED SUGARS

  • Avoid white processed foods, white sugar, white flour, white bread, pastries.
  • Refined sugars provide nothing but empty calories, not beneficial to our health and very addictive.
  • Eat fruit & sweet root vegetables to cut sweet cravings.
  • When you want a treat, use natural, more gentle sweeteners such as stevia, honey, & maple syrup.

4. COOK FROM SCRATCH

  • Learn to cook from whole ingredients, rather than from a box or package. It really can be simple and quick with a little experience.
  • Cook once & eat twice (or more!). Always make enough of something to pack lunches the next day, eat for dinner the next night, or freeze some extra portions. Save yourself time while eating great!
  • Use herbs, spices, & simple condiments to season already really good tasting whole foods.

5. ORGANIC & NON-GMO

  • Pesticides have been linked to cancer & a plethora of disease and health issues. 
  • Pesticides are used to destroy the life of insects. What do you think they do to your body?
  • GMO's have not been tested for safety in humans over a long period of time. We are like lab rats eating the GMO food not really knowing what kind of real health repercussions we will be dealing with long term. Many studies are proving that they are harmful to us in a plethora of ways. Avoid the risks!
  • Yes, organic more expensive. Your health is worth it. Your quality of life is worth it.  Medical expenses cost more.
  • Reduce your exposure to chemicals.
  • The environmental benefits are huge to supporting organic!

6. QUALITY MEAT & DAIRY

  • Avoid factory farmed, growth hormones, & antibiotics. Factory farming has some terrible practices in the treatment of animals, and remember that if you are consuming the meat and daily products from factory farms, you are also eating what they were given...tons of antibiotics, and hormones, as well as poor quality, GMO feed. 
  • Organic is better, again limiting exposure to chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.
  • Grass fed beef and dairy is best. A cows traditional diet is grass, not grain/feed. When fed natural diet of grass, the meat and dairy have totally different nutritional content, including healthier fats vs. unhealthy     fats.
  • Keep portions small. Americans have a tendency to eat much larger portions of meat and dairy than needed. Always shoot for the largest portion on your plate being vegetables, and keep your meat & dairy portions small.

7. MAGIC COMBO OF PROTEIN, FAT, & COMPLEX CARBS

  • Eating these 3 together from whole foods at every meal will create optimum blood sugar levels that are able to stay level for longer, keep you satisfied longer, and stave off cravings & brain fog.
  • Great protein sources are beans, nuts, seeds, grass fed & free range meats, fish.
  • Great sources of healthy fats are avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts & seeds.
  • Great sources of complex carbs are quinoa, brown rice, or sweet potatoes.

8. MAINTAIN BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL

  • Keeping your blood sugar level = making good food choices. 
  • When you wait too long between meals, or eat processed foods that can spike your blood sugar and then send it crashing, we are more likely to reach for sugar, junk food, or caffeine to keep energy up. This can cause a cycle of feeling irritable and tired.
  • Eat whole foods every 3- 4 hours to maintain blood sugar level and mentality.

9. PLANT BASED DIET

  • No matter the nutritional theory or diet plan out there, they all agree on one thing: A plant based diet is where it is at! 
  • Micheal Pollan, a popular author who has studied and written a lot on food said that everything he's learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."  Words to live by, if you ask me.

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So, we have talked about why you want to eat clean, and we've talked about what it means to eat clean.  Would you like some practical advice of how to make is happen? How to make the shift? Next week I'm going to share with you a list of practical suggestions in how to you can start to incorporate the practice of eating cleaner into your life. In the end it's about taking action and creating real change, right?

Be sure to check back next week for part 2 of Clean Eating 101!

Wishing you Wellness!

Shelly

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How Can We Spread Love in Troubled Times?

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How Can We Spread Love in Troubled Times?

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I rarely focus on the negative in life. I generally choose to focus on positivity and Love as much as I can. This has felt harder recently because so many humans are hurting right now.

Every time I jump online and catch any bit of news lately, my heart breaks. There is a collective sadness and frustration right now, and it hurts.

I wanted to write something this week about everything in the news, people that are being senselessly killed, the families and communities that suffer, the anger, the racism, separation, war, bombings, lack of connection....something. There's a lot of conversations that need to be had right now. I believe we need to talk to each other about what's going on. We need to connect. As I sat here with my macbook starting this blog post over & over....I decided that what I really wanted to write about is Love.

I decided that I'd write about Love because of 2 things. First off, I'll admit that I think it's the only blog post I could finish and actually publish, as I've been struggling to even find the language to talk about the hurt going on. Secondly, I believe that love is the answer. Always. Every time. Especially right now.

There are a lot of things we can be doing right now to fight the good fight, and conversations we can be having, but what I want to ask you today is simple....How can we spread more Love? I ask this question because I know this is one way I can make a difference daily, I can connect, I can heal, and I can do something to work towards healing as one big family of humans.

I've been consciously asking myself this question lately, and to the best of my ability taking action in my daily life.

How can we spread love?

I think what we need is a Love Revolution. We are all a family of humans. How do we start living more like it?

There are big things we can be doing, yes, but this is a short blog post, and what I want to focus on here is what are the things that we can be doing to help raise the vibration of Love in the collective consciousness as we are going through our daily life? What are the little things that we can focus on to be part of a compassionate ripple effect in our immediate surroundings? Here are a few things I've come up with and have been consciously focusing on doing more myself in my daily life, and it feels good.

  • When you leave your home and are out and about in your community....smile at strangers. Look them in the eye, and genuinely smile at them. Send them love. Say Hello. Ask people how they are doing, and then listen. Help them out if you see them needing help.
  • When you are going through the checkout line at the store. Put your phone down. Give eye contact and talk to the person that is helping you. Connect with them. Ask them about their day.
  • Reach out to people. Call them. Write them. Drop them a simple text out of the blue. Tell them you care. Write those you know are struggling and ask them how they are, and then listen. Ask them if they need support. Reach out to people and tell them how amazing they are. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them how much you admire them for doing what they are doing. Make them laugh!
  • Dish out genuine compliments to people. Be a cheerleader for those around you. People you know, and strangers on the street, in the store, or wherever. Offer genuine compliments and words of encouragement every chance you get.
  • Tell people you Love them.
  • In every situation, put yourselves in other people's shoes. Try to imagine what they are dealing with, and show empathy. Express your empathy.
  • Understand that you never know where someone else is coming from. You never know someone else's story or what they are dealing with at any given moment. Remember this when someone cuts you off in traffic, you see someone behaving in a less than pleasant way, you find yourself having judgement about someone's actions, decisions, or opinions. Know that we are all doing the best we can with what we are dealing with, and send Love.
  • Hug each other. Every. Chance. You. Get. Hug your family. Hug your friends. Hug your friends that you usually don't hug. Hug strangers. Just hug.
  • Offer support. Yes, I know you are busy. Do it anyway. Acts of support as small as opening a door for someone with their hands full, to full on holding space for someone during a crisis. Help people move. Watch their kids. Connect them with people that can help them. Give them a hand up in any way that you can.
  • Random acts of kindness. Random acts of Love. Buy an extra sandwich at the deli and give it to the homeless person outside. Buy an extra bag of groceries for your neighbor that you know is struggling & leave it on their steps. Pay for a coffee in the drive through for the mom you see struggling with her restless kids in the car behind you. Anything you can think of! Just do it.
  • Make time for people. Listen to them. Encourage them. Show them affection.
  • Show and express your appreciation to others. This always feels good, for both you and them!
  • Choose Love. Be Love. Even when it's really hard. Especially when it's really hard.

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I'd like to make a suggestion. Start your day by asking yourself these questions:

  • How can I bring more Love into the world today?

  • How can I spread more Love in the world today?

  • How can I BE Love today?

It all starts with us as individuals. I firmly believe that if we all focus on 'being Love' as much as we can, that we can transform the world we live in. We can transform our own lives, our families, our social circles, our communities, our country, and our world. The ripple effect can be STRONG! Please please....get out there, and send the biggest ripple of Love out there that you possibly can. I promise that if you make an effort here, you are not just making an impact via the ripple, but you will make a tremendous impact in your own life as well. It's healing for everyone. It raises the vibration for everyone.

I would love to hear what kind of things you come up with. Please share with me in the comments any ways that you are choosing to spread more love in your daily life.....we can all learn from each other, inspire each other, and create the biggest ripple of Love possible!

Love Love Love Love Love Love Love!

Shelly

 

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Eliminating Processed Foods? Add Some Fresh Flavor!

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Eliminating Processed Foods? Add Some Fresh Flavor!

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One of the best things you can do for your body is work towards eliminating processed foods from your diet and shift into eating whole foods. This means learning how to create meals from whole foods rather than boxes, bags, cans, & jars of processed foods, which can feel intimidating for some. One thing I've really learned in working with people that are trying to make this shift is that when your palate is used to the added flavors, sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients in processed foods, then it's easy to to assume that meals prepared with whole/healthy ingredients would be bland and taste....well....healthy. I'm here to tell you yes, they do taste healthy, but I'd like to encourage you to keep an open mind as to what that means. Healthy certainly does not mean bland!

First off. Know that your palate will change with time. The more whole foods you eat, the better they will taste. The less processed sugar you eat, the sweeter things like fruit will taste. The less processed foods you eat, the more like chemicals they will taste. (I'm not kidding here...after some time, they really do taste like chemicals and I can't believe I used to eat some of that stuff and like it!)  Keep giving your taste buds chances with things. They will adjust, and you can learn to love healthy food! Trust me, it's true!

Secondly, The point of this post is that I want to give you one of my favorite recommendations for making your fresh healthy meals taste amazing! Fresh Herbs!

Adding fresh herbs to your meals adds so much amazing flavor, that you won't miss the unhealthy stuff one bit, in fact it will help you to gain a palate that truly loves fresh flavors! There is really nothing like a healthy sprinkling of fresh basil or chives on top of whatever you are eating.

What drew me to writing this post is that it's summer time, I'm growing a variety of herbs on my back porch and they are going into almost every meal I make! Adding fresh herbs adds amazing fresh flavor to any meal that I make, like nothing else can.

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How to obtain fresh herbs?

If you can, grow them yourself. It's summer, and so easy to grow a few fresh herbs in pots on your porch or steps or in a window box. Most of them really don't take up much room at all to grow as much as you would use. You can get starts at farmers markets or various stores that will grow up in no time. Most herbs grow pretty fast, and it's so gratifying to be growing even a little bit of your own food.

You can also find them in abundance at any local farmers market or natural food store. The bigger chain grocery stores carry some herbs like cilantro commonly in nice big bunches, but usually carry most fresh herbs in small, plastic containers in the produce section that in my opinion are quite overpriced for the small amount you get. I do indulge in them sometimes in the dead of winter when I want to, but not often. If I'm buying them, I tend to go for the bigger, fresher bunches I can find at my local food co-op or at the farmers market.

In some climates you can grow many herbs outside year round. If you live in a colder climate, your other option for winter time is to have an inside window box of herbs you are growing. As I said earlier, they really don't take much room to grow, they look and smell great, and it's such a treat to be able to cut and use your own fresh herbs from your home, especially in the middle of winter! For most of them, the sunlight coming in a bright window is sufficient. You can also hang a small grow light above them if needed.

On my back porch I currently have growing in pots: 2 types of basil, sage, mint, dill, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, and chives. These are my favorites and ones that I use often. Now that they are all flourishing, I use at least 1-2 of them daily in my meals & drinks.

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How do you use fresh herbs?

Short answer: Any way you want to!

Here's a list of my favorite ways to use them....

  1. On or in my scrambled eggs in the morning. I often sauté some veggies in the morning and scramble a couple of eggs in. Topping this breakfast with fresh basil, chives, or cilantro  (or a combo) is divine! It adds a whole new dimension of flavor! My new absolute favorite is topping my veggies and eggs with basil, avocado chunks, and a little crumbled goat cheese....OMG it's divine!
  2. In fresh salads. ANY of these herbs would be great in a fresh salad. Add your favorites! Also great for simple pasta salads which are a fantastic lunch option for the season. I've been a big fan of gluten free quinoa pasta, lots of chopped veggies, a simple vinaigrette of some kind and a lot of fresh herbs chopped in. This makes a tasty lunch to go for a few days easy peasy.
  3. In roasted veggies. I love mixing in some fresh thyme or rosemary to my veggies before I roast them. They add such amazing flavor! Chives are always good chopped on top after the roasting. Chives are really good on top of almost everything in my opinion.
  4. Three words. Sage. Butter. Carrots. Saute the carrots in sage and butter, add a little salt and you've got one of my favorite sides. It's amazing. You can thank me later.
  5. Throw them on top of almost any dish as a finisher. Make a stir fry? Add some fresh chives or basil on top. Make a soup? Top it with fresh oregano, rosemary, or whatever herb would best suit the soup you made. Make a grain as a side? Chop up a fresh herb and mix it into your rice or quinoa with some salt & pepper for a beautifully and simply seasoned side dish.
  6. Drinks. If you are used to drinking soft drinks, juices, and beverages with a lot of extra sugar and trying to give them up and drink more water, then Infuse your water with herbs & fruit, turning your boring water into a party for your mouth with added nutrition! A couple of my favorites is lime and mint leaves, or melon, strawberry, and basil. For more infusion ideas, just google 'herb infused water' and you'll get a plethora of ideas! I also love making mint tea from my fresh mint. If you are a cocktail person, nothing beats a happy hour with mojitos made with your own fresh mint!

These are just my current favorite ways to use fresh herbs. My list is meant to inspire you, but not limit you....there are thousands of ways to use fresh herbs!

The intention of this post is to get you thinking about using fresh herbs in ways that make your fresh & healthy food & drinks taste amazing, but I can't close without mentioning the fact that besides tasting good, fresh herbs can have some amazing health benefits to them as well. Many fresh herbs help with things such as digestion and calming of the stomach to anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting effects, among many others.  Each herb has it's own nutritional and medicinal qualities.

I encourage you to play with fresh herbs more in your kitchen and see which ones your palate loves. Know that there a lot of ways to make cooking with whole foods really tasty, using fresh herbs is one of them.

If you are on your own journey of eliminating processed foods from your life, kudos to you! Be patient with yourself and your palate changing, and explore the tasty world of fresh herbs!

Wishing you Wellness!

Shelly

 

 

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Give Yourself the Gift of Saying No

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Give Yourself the Gift of Saying No

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Do you have a hard time saying 'NO'?

How often do you find yourself in a position where you would like to say 'no', but you feel in someway an awkward obligation to say 'yes', even if It may not be in your best interest?

Does your already very busy life often feel consumed with doing things for the sake of others rather than what is best for you, or doing what you want to be doing?

Do you show up at parties or social events not because you were excited to go, but because you felt an obligation to be there?

Do you find yourself running errands or favors for people in your life when you don't have the time to handle your own shit?

Do you find yourself taking on more than you really should, and never really having the downtime to yourself that you need and deserve?

If any of these apply to you, it sounds like you may have a case of "people pleasing". Don't feel bad. Many of us have this issue. Many of us have been trained to have it.

The inability to say 'no' can be a roadblock for you in reaching your personal goals, setting boundaries with people where boundaries need to be set, spending time doing the things in life that are important to you, and taking care of yourself in a way that leaves you feeling nourished, happy, and fulfilled.

I want to tell you something that I would love for you to store in your brain in a place that you can easily access it anytime. I want this to be a common thought for you......

Always remember that saying 'no' can be an act of self love, and self love is the cornerstone to a happy & healthy life. Learning to say 'no' can be a great gift to yourself.

When I talk about self love, I'm not talking about ego. I'm talking about you loving yourself and being the best human possible so that you can live a full & happy life, and have the ability to offer your best self to the world in all that you do.

I'll use the old analogy of the oxygen masks on airplanes. They tell us every time we get on an airplane that if something happens, and the oxygen masks drop down, we are ALWAYS to put our own mask on first. Why? Because if we are deprived of oxygen we won't have the ability to help anyone else. This is a great analogy for life. If we are constantly doing for others and not saying 'no' to things that are draining us, pretty soon we will be left feeling drained of our energy, and once we are drained of energy, Who can we serve? Who can we help? No one. Not even ourselves. We need the oxygen first!

I'm in no way suggesting that we shouldn't say 'yes' to things that people ask of us. I'm a firm believer that we should help each other out, we should support each other, attend each other's events, help friends move, drive them to the airport, and feel part of a community of support in various ways. These are all good things! I'm simply saying that we should help each other out when we are able, when we have the energy and the time, when we feel that we have it to give, and when it's really something we want to do. We should say 'no' when we are feeling depleted and like we need to rest or attend to our own busy life. We should have the ability to say 'no' when we feel like it's not in our best interest.

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Saying 'no' can be a gift to yourself and act of self love.

Saying 'no' can also mean saying 'yes' to other things that fill you more.

Here's a different perspective to view it from:

If you say 'no' to something, ask yourself, what are you saying 'yes' to?

I could give a million examples, but here's one:  If you say "no, I can't watch your kids that day", perhaps you are saying 'yes' to finally taking that day for a hike that you've been feeling the need for. You've been stressed lately, very busy, have had no time to yourself, and your way of de-stressing and connecting is being in the woods and hiking. You need that day. You've been looking forward to it.

Perhaps if you focus on the fact that you are saying 'yes' to something that serves you, saying no to something that doesn't serve you won’t be as hard?

I'd like you to ask yourself.........

Where are you saying 'yes' in your life that you could be saying 'no'?

Where are you saying 'yes', and it's draining you?

I think that we have a tendency to think that we are the only person for the job sometimes. Maybe it's a kind of 'martyr mentality'. Do you find yourself ever saying something like " I have to do this for them. They have no one else to help them. They asked me, and I can't say no, I need to help them, they are my friend".

Chances are this just isn't true. Chances are there are other people that can help. Chances are there are other options.

Think of how different it would feel if we all began to help each other out in ways that felt good for both parties?

I'm in no way suggesting that we don't support each other. On the contrary, we need to support each other. What I'm suggesting is that we all learn to support ourselves first so that we can live our life from a happy & fulfilled place and continue to have the ability to give and support each other because we have made keeping our own cup full a priority.

Wishing you Wellness,

Shelly

 

 

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3 Strategies For Turning Pro at Making Healthy Food at Home 

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3 Strategies For Turning Pro at Making Healthy Food at Home 

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You are what you eat. Literally. Eating healthy affects every aspect of your health & wellbeing.

Eating healthy is a lot easier when you spend some time in the kitchen preparing most of the food you eat from healthy whole foods like vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.

There’s simply a lot of people out there that either:

 A) Are not comfortable in the kitchen.

 B) Are comfortable in the kitchen cooking the way they always have, which isn’t very healthy, and have no idea where to start to improve on their skills.

 C) Cook a lot of their meals at home, but most is prepared from boxes, bags, cans, & jars of already processed foods, and the thought of preparing meals without those things makes them feel lost.

 D) Religiously follow recipes to feel comfortable cooking a meal, which takes a lot of planning and time.

 Are you one of the above? If so, this post is for you!

 I grew up preparing a lot of convenience meals from already processed foods.

 Before the enormous influx of processed foods on the shelf, and the introduction of the Betty Crocker Cookbook that found it’s way into most kitchens sometime in the 50’s, there was a lot more cooking being done with whole foods. The Betty Crocker cookbook taught us, it’s easy to prepare meals with a bunch of already processed ingredients, right? Marketing did a great job of convincing america to start cooking differently with the influx of processed & convenience food on the shelf and America's kitchens started looking a lot different.

 As a society we've forgotten how to cook from scratch ingredients, and with the introduction of so much convenience food, many people never took on cooking at all. Decades later, it seems we know how to cook from convenience and processed foods, and cooking from scratch with whole ingredients can feel intimidating!

 What has been forgotten is that whole food ingredients can be just as easy, taste a lot better, and from the influx of food related disease, I think we can safely say that it kept us a lot healthier too.

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 Here are my 3 top strategies for learning to cook and eat healthy from your own kitchen:

 #1. This is HUGE: Don’t fear failure in the kitchen! Just like anything else in life, if you want to get really good at something you have to practice, and especially when you are starting out, It’s likely that you’ll mess up. Be okay with that! Allowing yourself some room to mess up will allow you to feel more adventurous and try things that you maybe wouldn’t otherwise. As much time as I spend in the kitchen cooking, I still mess up sometimes. It just is what it is! Sometimes you don’t know that something doesn’t work together until it’s done, and you find out. We can learn the most from our mistakes in life, and that same rule applies in the kitchen. If you can learn to laugh off the disasters that happen, then you are more likely to keep being adventurous in the kitchen, and with time you'll become much more pro! Just stating that you can't cook will get you nowhere, except maybe on a run for take-out every night. 

 #2. Once a week, try one new whole food recipe. Follow the recipe, and as you enjoy your meal, think about how you could make it more to your liking. Think about different variations you could make, or how you could incorporate your personal favorite vegetables into the dish rather than the ones called for. Try to choose recipes that have a new grain, or bean, or vegetable to you. This way you are not only trying  a new recipe each week, but you are trying a new whole food to you as well. Even if you don’t like 1/2 of them all that much, after a few months, you would have 6 new meals and 6 new whole foods that you love in your repertoire. Learning to adjust recipes more to your liking by adding your favorite veggies or spices will allow you to create your favorites, which will not only encourage more home cooked food, but it will help you to develop more creativity in the kitchen as time goes on. 

 #3. Once you get more comfortable in the kitchen, begin to experiment more. Use ingredients that you love and combine them with ideas from recipes you've tried. Be creative with coming up with your own combinations of things, and take note of the ones you love. Soon you will begin to feel more confident in whipping things up without strictly following a recipe, and with ease, that you really enjoy!

 I like to think of it like art. Just like a painter knows how his favorite colors blend together and which brushes to use to get a desired effect, Once you have some experience, you will know how your favorite spices blend together, and which grains, or nut butters, or vegetables work well in whatever you are preparing. Experience not only leads you to being a better cook with ease, but allows you to confidently be more creative in the kitchen. Getting to a point of feeling creative in the kitchen is not only fun, but damn tasty!

 I share this writing with you because this is exactly how I began to learn how to navigate cooking most of my meals at home from whole food ingredients in a tasty way that I enjoy. It's taken time to acquire the creativity I've gained in the kitchen, but it was a fun journey that I still enjoy. I still mess up sometimes. I still try new recipes sometimes, but I mostly I now walk into my kitchen confident that I can grab whatever is available and create something tasty & healthy on a whim, and boy is that a good feeling!

Wishing you Wellness!

Shelly

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Does Indecisiveness Make You Crazy?

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Does Indecisiveness Make You Crazy?

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What is it? Something you can’t make a decision on? Can’t figure out what to do? Maybe you aren’t sure how to navigate a certain relationship? Or perhaps you are trying to make a decision on which job to go for? Where to take a vacation? How to hold your child accountable? Whatever it is... you are struggling with this thing, and you can’t figure out the best way to handle it....What to decide?

A lot of things cause stress. For some of us, decisions can one of those things. Indecisiveness can make me crazy sometimes, and I know I'm not alone here.

I’ve been there. A lot. I recently made a joke that indecisiveness maybe a genetic thing in my family, as we all seem to be plagued by it!

Life is full. It’s full of decisions. Full of complications. Full of details to consider before making complicated decisions. Especially in our often fast paced life it can feel challenging to get clear on things, as sometimes it feels like we don’t even have the time to stop and really figure out what’s going on.

When we find ourselves in a situation like this, it’s easy to overthink things. It’s easy to attach too much emotion to our decisions, and be unclear about what we are doing and why. Many of us have a tendency to base decisions in our life on how it will affect other people more than ourselves, or simply get jumbled in why we are doing what.

I have a trick I’d like to share with you that works wonders if you are feeling plagued by indecision. It’s like magic I tell you!

I call it the movie theatre trick.

All it requires is a little imagination.

You know how when you are watching a movie…..if it’s a good movie, you get really invested in the characters? You start to feel a part of their situation, and you find yourself trying to tell the character in the film what to do?

Give a horror film for example….you find yourself yelling at the screen….”No! No! Don’t go outside damn it! He’s out there! What are you thinking?!"

Or in a Romantic drama you may find yourself saying something to the character along the lines of….”don’t do it! Don’t go back to him! He doesn't love you!” or the opposite “What are you thinking? don’t walk away from love like that! Why would you walk away?"

It's easier from the outside of a situation to bark orders of what should be happening right? So, how about looking at your own situation where you are struggling with a decision, and try to view it from an outside perspective?

Here’s the trick:

Sit or lay down for a few minutes. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a movie theatre. Feel yourself in the seat. Smell the popcorn. Really use your imagination to put yourself there.

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Now, the big screen comes on, and it’s showing your life. Your situation that you are struggling with. To the best of your ability, in your mind's eye, view yourself as a character on the screen, looking in on this situation in your life.

Watch the storyline that lead up to this moment in time. See all the details, everything that has happened, everything that is relevant to what you are trying to figure out. Do your best to see all of this from an outsider's view. From a different perspective. Remember….you are watching a character on the screen!

Now, you’ve got the storyline down. You've seen it all. You know the character and the situation......and now the current scene is that situation that you’ve been struggling with knowing what to do. From this outsider point of view, tell your character what to do. What do you want to be shouting at the screen? Are you saying “No No! Don’t do it!” Or “Yes! Go for it”. What is the advice you are wanting to give that character? Talk to the character on the screen as if you would any other character.....tell her (or him) what you think she should do. Tell her why you think she should do that. Break it down.....dish out advice to your character.

I swear this visualization can be magical.

Why is this such a magical trick?

Because if you can successfully bring your mind out of the situation, and look in from the outside, you end up with a totally different perspective. Sometimes all we need to get clear on a situation is to take a step back. Step out of the story we've been telling ourselves about it, and look at it with new eyes, a new perspective.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life this has helped me out.

From big decisions to small. A little different perspective can go a long way!

So are you one of those people (like me) that struggles with indecision? Do you have a tendency to get wrapped up in the details of your own story and make decisions complicated? If so, I invite you to utilize my movie theatre trick. And let me know how it goes!

Wishing you Wellness!

Shelly

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8 Ways To Make Eating Healthy, Whole Foods At Home Quick & Easy!

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8 Ways To Make Eating Healthy, Whole Foods At Home Quick & Easy!

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I’m a big advocate for eating whole foods. Processed foods have taken over most of America’s kitchens, and this is one of the main reasons that as a society we are feeling run down, overweight, and unhealthy. Eating a diet of processed foods is linked to a variety of health problems, and I’m a firm believer that we can greatly improve our health & wellbeing on all levels through eating a healthy, whole foods, plant based diet. If I can be frank here…..I really think that processed foods are killing us.
Transitioning to eating whole foods from a lot of processed foods can feel daunting in a few ways, one of them being, they take a lot more time in the kitchen don’t they?
Cooking & preparing healthy whole foods can take more time in a lot of ways, but it doesn't need to be complicated and there is a lot of great ways that you can learn to save time, and prepare ahead so that you have things ready to go that are good choices, rather than the processed convenience foods that are causing our bodies so much trouble.
I live a pretty busy life and while I often have the time to spend in the kitchen that I want, (because it's a big priority of mine) there are times that my life is really busy & on the go. Eating good food from my kitchen is really important to me.  Because it's so important, I’ve learned to adapt some habits with food prep in my kitchen, making it easy for myself to whip up a quick meal, or pack a quick meal to go whenever I need to.  It’s important to have healthy options available in a convenient way if you want to avoid the trap of processed convenience foods.
I’ve talked with a lot of people about the things I personally do in my kitchen to make this happen, and in that sharing, I've been inspired  share some of my regular favorites here with you. Spending one or two chunks of time in the kitchen per week can allow you to prep a lot and make it much more efficient to eat healthy.

Here’s my top 8 favorite ways of saving time in the kitchen, and making sure that I have foods ready for my busy lifestyle:

 #1.

Many mornings, I like to eat a bunch of sautéed vegetables with fresh eggs scrambled in. To make this really easy to pull off, I’ll chop a big bowl of vegetables up that will keep in the fridge for a good 4 days. In the morning, all I have to do is throw a handful of the prepped veggies in the frying pan with some olive oil, and make my cup of coffee, feed the dog, or do whatever I need to do in the kitchen while they sauté. scramble the eggs in at the end, and in no time I’ve got a super healthy breakfast full of veggies & protein. This keeps me going for a long time. Some of the veggies I personally like to use are garlic, onion, brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and dark leafy greens like chard, kale, or collards. Be sure to cut the sweet potatoes in small chunks so they cook fully with the other veggies, and toss the greens in the last couple of minutes. This also makes a great lunch or dinner if you are into breakfast at all times of the day like I am. Top with some fresh herbs like basil or cilantro and some ripe avocado chunks, and you've got yourself an extra amazing & complete meal.

#2.

Especially in the cooler months, I like to roast a large pan of vegetables in the oven to use in a variety of ways over the next few days. Some of my favorites to use are sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, brussel sprouts, asparagus, beets, onions, garlic….whatever I have around. Use your own favorites! Root veggies are great for this. I chop everything up into chunks, toss with some coconut oil or olive oil, salt & pepper and bake at 400 for anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour depending on the size of chunks and vegetables. They usually end up as a side in my dinner the night that I roast them and in the few days after, I use them in various ways, such as:

*They are delicious tossed on top of a cold green salad for lunch.

*I’ll warm them and toss them in some miso broth or veggie broth with some beans making a simple & delicious soup for dinner the next night.

*Wrap them in a tortilla with beans, or greens, or a grain of some kind, or all of the above.                                This is good hot or cold, and can be a great lunch to go.

*Warm them in the skillet, and scramble eggs or tofu in for a great breakfast.

*Blend them into a creamy roasted vegetable soup.

*Make a roasted veggie quesadillas with tortillas, beans, and cheese.

#3.  

I cook a pot of beans from scratch. Cooking beans from scratch requires you to simply soak them in water the night before, rinse, and cook until they are done. They are one of those things that you can leave simmering on the stove when you are attending to other things in the kitchen. Yes, you can buy beans in a can as well, and those are great for convenience. By all means, eat them! I personally like the taste & texture better when I cook them myself. They taste fresher, and are much cheaper to buy in bulk! Here’s some of the things I do with them over the next several days:

*Add them to a simple soup.

*Make tacos or burritos.

*Toss them on a cold salad as a great source of protein for a filling salad.

*Blend them with some spices to make a bean dip.

*Caramelize some onions & garlic, and saute the beans in to warm them. This is delicious on it’s own as my protein for a meal with some vegetables, and maybe a grain.

#4.  

I cook a big pot of a whole grain to use over a few days. Brown rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, kamut, & wild rice are some of my favorites.

*I eat them lightly seasoned as a side to whatever else I’m having.

*Warm them in the morning with a little nut milk & cinnamon, and add fresh or frozen fruit for a morning porridge. Adding a nut butter like peanut or almond butter is a delicious way to add some protein. I also like to add flax seed, hemp seed, chia seeds, or any other nuts or seeds I have around to add protein.

*Any of these grains are great tossed on a green salad, or to make a salad with veggies and a simple dressing.

*Add them into lettuce or tortilla wraps with veggies and a protein for a great lunch.

#5.  

I cook things like soup, and curry, or other one pot dishes in large batches so I have lunches to go, or quick dinners to heat up. Some of the soups freeze really well, which gives me those quick meals ready on hand when I'm really short on time and want something healthy.

#6. 

I make up a big salad that I can just grab from when I’m ready for lunch, dinner, or to take on the go. Having a salad big enough to last multiple days prepped with a bunch of fresh veggies and maybe some grains or beans ready to go really makes it a breeze to make the great choice of having a salad when you are short on time.

#7

I’ve become great at making smoothies with all the flavors that I love. When you get into the groove with smoothies that you really like, with vegetables, a good source of protein & healthy fat, it’s a really quick way to make a healthy meal in 5 minutes rather than grabbing for something that is quick and processed. Adding a source of protein and some good fat like coconut oil or avocados to your smoothie is a great idea if you are  making it a meal, and it will keep you satisfied much longer than just a fruit & veggie smoothie.

8.

I like to hard boil eggs to have on hand.

*They can make a great, protein rich breakfast on the go.

*They are delicious chopped in salads.

*They are a great, satisfying snack when I’m really feeling hungry before meal time.

 

There you have it. These seem to be my 8 standard habits that I've adapted to doing that helps me to keep healthy food convenient, and ready to go!

Besides the above ideas, it's always good to have raw veggies, fruit, & nuts on hand for those snack times. Crunchy carrots, apples, and protein rich nuts go a long way in satisfying between meals, and are a much better option than what's in the vending machine!

Of course, it would be ideal if we had the time to make every meal fresh, but that's not the reality for most of us. It is still possible to have the majority of your diet be whole foods prepared by you with love in your own kitchen. This is the food that nourishes us best. Find what works best for you, and what you enjoy the most!

If you have any tips on keeping healthy food ready to go, I'd love to hear them! Please leave a comment!

Wishing you wellness!

Shelly

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The Habit of Positivity

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The Habit of Positivity

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I invite you to take a moment. Close your eyes, and picture a cup sitting in front of you filled to the halfway mark. How do you see it? Be honest with yourself….Do you have a tendency towards the glass half empty or the glass half full feeling?
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Positivity, like many things in life, is a habit. Negativity is habit as well. Regardless of what kind of influences we had growing up, or what kind of circumstances we've faced in our lives, positivity and negativity are still habits.
Habits are things we have control over. They can sometimes take a lot of effort to change, but they are totally changeable if we have the desire to do so.
There’s a quote by Charles Swindle that I remind myself of often:
“We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
The ability to hold a ‘glass half full’ attitude can change how everything feels in life. It can  take a multitude of shitty situations feel like opportunities for growth, and blessings in disguise. Research has clearly shown that a negative outlook on life can contribute to everything from depression to heart disease to lowered immune system function. It can affect sleep, weight maintenance, the quality of your relationships, your social life, and even your ability to hold a job.
I could write a book about this subject here, but my intention in writing this today is simply 2 things.
First, I’d like you to take a good look at yourself and really ask yourself how you are doing in this area? On a scale of 1-10, how positive would you say you are? Where do you struggle with keeping your attitude positive?
Secondly, I want to offer some practices that you can incorporate into your life, to create a habit of positivity. Even if you  do feel like you are someone who is mostly on the positive side, how can you bring that to a 10? Life is a continual learning process, and I’m all about continual positive personal growth.
So, how can we foster more positivity in our lives? Here are some suggestions, and things to ponder:
  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every evening list at least 5 things that you were grateful for in your day. Gratitude creates happiness & positivity.
  2. Practice giving compliments! Give them away freely. Purposely look for the good in others. Praise the people you interact with. Give strangers compliments! Be sure these are genuine compliments, but give them away freely! Make a point to do so several times daily.
  3. Share good news. Have something good going on? Tell people about it! Studies show that sharing happy events bring more happiness! On the flip side of that, ask the people in your life what's good with them? We can all have a tendency towards wanting to share the things we are struggling with. Practice focusing more on the positives in your conversations.
  4. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. This includes the conversations and the daydreams you have all day!
  5. Purposefully spend more time around others that have glass half full attitudes, and restrict your time with those that have a glass half empty attitude. Just as you are what you eat, to a certain degree, you are who you spend time with as well!
  6. Practice correcting negative thoughts. Try to commit to this for a day or a week to start, and build on it. Whenever you find yourself thinking a negative thought, try to flip it around. Find the blessing in disguise, or the lesson in the struggle, or something positive surrounding whatever you are feeling negative about. Perhaps something awful happened in your day. Maybe losing your job creates the space for you to explore a career you’ve been to afraid to make the leap towards? There is a positive side to everything. Find it. Flip it.
maintaining a positive attitude takes practice. Like anything else that takes practice, the more you do it, the more easy it becomes. Positivity becoming second nature for you, creates a life that is healthier and happier. So yes, it’s absolutely worth the effort!

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Conscious Eating

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Conscious Eating

You are what you eat. We all know this. It’s important to choose healthy food to put in our bodies. We all think about what we eat...at least a little bit, but have you considered HOW you eat?

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2016 Clean Fifteen & Dirty Dozen

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2016 Clean Fifteen & Dirty Dozen

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Have you heard of the clean 15 and dirty dozen list? If not, I'd like to tell you about it! Every year the  Environmental Working Group tests tens of thousands of samples of the most popular fruits  & vegetables for pesticide residue and release their Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

This report gives us the power of knowing what kind of pesticide residue is likely to be on the conventionally grown produce we may be feeding ourselves & our families.

The really brilliant gift that the EWG gives us each year, is the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list.

The dirty dozen list gives us the list of the top 12 most common (conventionally grown) produce items tested to have the heaviest pesticide load. This year strawberries top the list, with a single strawberry sample testing positive for 17 different pesticides! Keep in mind that these pesticides are still found after the produce has been washed, and in many cases even peeled, like in the case of apples which is #2 on the list.

The Clean Fifteen list gives us the top 15 conventionally grown produce items that are least likely to contain pesticide residue. Few pesticides were found on these samples, or low concentrations of pesticides on them.

Why are these lists such great info? As we all know, organically grown produce is more expensive, and depending on where you live, not always as available as conventionally grown produce. Eating a lot of fruits & vegetables are important for a healthy diet, but how healthy is it when we are also consuming crazy amounts of pesticides? The Clean fifteen and Dirty Dozen list gives us the knowledge as a consumer and eater of produce to know which foods are really important to buy organic and which foods won't burden our bodies with pesticides if we are purchasing the conventionally grown options.

So if you want to feed your body and your families bodies clean produce without the toxic load of pesticides, need to stick to a budget, or maybe you don't have a lot of organically grown produce available where you live, these lists are a great asset for you.

You want to be sure that you are avoiding bringing home anything on the Dirty dozen list that is grown conventionally. If you can't purchase organic produce on this list, I suggest skipping them entirely.  This is the list that it's really important to purchase organic. The clean fifteen list on the other hand, you can feel good about purchasing conventionally grown if you choose to. Some of the key findings from this year's EWG report that I think are really noteworthy: (from EWG website)

  • More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.
  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 81 percent of papayas, 78 percent of mangoes, 73 percent of kiwi and 62 percent of cantaloupes had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

Knowledge is power, and this list is really a great gift to us in deciding how to shop and feed ourselves & those we love. This is a great list to keep with you when shopping.

You can donate to the EWG HERE and they'll send you a handy reusable shopping bag with the Clean fifteen & Dirty dozen listed on it!

Here is the guide you can print & take with you to the store!

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