Category Archives: Health Information

Information for a healthier you.

Inspiration Week Day 2: Live Like Someone Left the Gate Open

dog running

I love how happy and free this dog looks.  Being a dog owner myself, I completely recognize the expression on this puppy’s face- total freedom!  I know we all have responsibilities and jobs and things we have to do but we should strive to find moments of pure freedom in our day.  Pause to look out the window  to notice the leaves on the tree shading your office window.  Stand up and stretch after hours spent over the computer.  Carve out some time to sit by a lake.  Find what will give you your own feeling of escaping out of the gate!!  When you take that moment, totally present!  Our moments of total freedom don’t have to be long, they just have to be experienced fully.

Photo from Bing photos.

Inspiration Week

Be kind to yourself!

I decided to do something a little different this week.  I love Pinterest and spend an amazing number of hours searching for inspiration, recipes, projects, workout advice and anything else I can find there. I know  many of you out there also lose many hours pouring over all the pins.  I decided this week, I am going to share some of my favorite inspirational finds.  I would love if you have a favorite pin that inspires you, you shared it with me!

My first find this week comes from Gaye at Calm, Sexy, Happy.  I love this pin and her blog post because I have had this exact conversation with some friends and even myself at times.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could all make a commitment to being at least as kind to ourselves as we are to our friends and family.

Tiny Tip Tuesday: 4 Tips for A Healthier You


Four Tips for a Healthier Diet.

Four Tips for a Healthier Diet.

It seems there is a lot of contradictory information out there about healthy diets.  Many people have incredibly strong feelings about how they fuel their bodies and they are not afraid to share their opinions.  It can be hard to keep up with the latest research because the information is always changing.  One minute, carbs are good- the next, carbs are bad.  First you hear, don’t eat fat then you hear eat all the fat you want. It can be confusing because new research is always being released.  However, here are 4 tiny tips I think most everyone can agree on.

  1. Eat whole foods.   Try to make the majority of calories you consume come from whole foods.  Eat foods you recognize with a minimum of ingredients- all of which you can pronounce.  Avoid food that comes in a box or package.  Food in its natural state is the best.
  2. Eat healthy fats.  Your body needs fat to survive.  Fat is necessary for absorption of the fat soluble vitamins D, E, K and A, for insulation for your organs and to help keep your body warm.  Fat helps produce hormones and biochemicals and is in every cell in the body.  However, not all fat is healthy.  Avoid trans fats like those found in baked goods or processed foods.  Get your fats from real food sources like seeds, nuts, avocados, fatty fish, meat and eggs.
  3. Eat a variety of foods every day.  Try to eat as many different colors of natural foods as possible. Blue blueberries, red apples, dark green leafy greens, vibrant orange butternut squash and purple eggplant all offer different essential vitamins and minerals.
  4. Move your body.   The Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.  These recommendations do not mean you have to go sweat it out in the gym- any kind of activity which gets your heart rate up will qualify.  It doesn’t matter if it is gardening, running, boot camp or ballroom dancing. Just be sure to choose something you like so you are motivated to keep doing it.  Consistency is key!!

Photo by Alex Lomas on flickr.


Tiny Tip Tuesday: Eat an Avocado


Recently, I have noticed an increased interest in avocados.  It seems they are the new super food.  In the past, back in the low fat crazed days, avocados were avoided due to their high fat content but now that people are realizing how necessary fat is for our bodies, avocados are enjoying a popularity surge.  Even though avocados are high in fat, most of that fat is oleic acid, a mono-saturated fatty acid.  Oleic acid helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids.  Mono-saturated fats also help lower our risk of heart disease.  Avocados also contain phytosterols, which are invaluable in lowering inflammation, especially in arthritis.  Avocado is an excellent source of carotenoid lutein, which known to help protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.  They contain lutein which helps fight macular degeneration and their high fiber content helps keep blood sugar level.  Avocados are a particularly rich source for potassium, Vitamin E, folate, Vitamin K, Copper and Vitamin C.  With all these amazing health benefits, it is easy to see why avocados are the new darlings of the nutrition world.  Throw some on a salad to increase your absorption of fat soluble vitamins.  Grind one into a smoothie to add a thick, rich, satisfying texture.  Mix one with some honey and smear on your face for a moisturizing mask.  The possibilities are endless.  What is your favorite way to enjoy avocados?

Post shared with Urban Naturale and Gluten Free Homemaker.

Photo by Three Layer Cake on flickr.

Chocolate Cherry Chia 24 Hour Oats



Healthy Chia Seeds.

Healthy Chia Seeds.

Every Friday morning, I sweat my way through  an amazing boot camp class at The Refinery here in Portland.  Each week features a different series of moves designed to torture us.  While I am usually exhausted by the end of it, I LOVE it!  It is fun, challenging and awesome to see what my body can and can’t do each week.  Before each class, I have to think carefully about how I am going to fuel my body to get through the workout.  I don’t want to be too weighed down but also want to be sure I have enough fuel to finish.  The last few weeks, I have been relying on versions of  24 hour oats.  With cherry season upon us, these Chocolate Cherry Chia Oats are my new favorite.

All the ingredients before adding the almond milk.

All the ingredients before adding the almond milk.

I added a scoop of vegan vanilla protein powder to my oats because I wanted the extra protein with such a hard workout but you can leave it out if you aren’t interested in extra protein.

We use this protein powder Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein, 622 Grams.

Shaken Oats Ready to Go In the Fridge.

Shaken Oats Ready to Go In the Fridge.

These oats are great because you prep them the night before and then just grab them and go in the morning.  They offer healthy omega-3 fats with the chia seeds, fiber filled oats and a dose of Vitamin C from the cherries.  As you can see from the picture below, it is not a pretty breakfast but it sure tastes good.

Oats ready to eat after 24 hours in the fridge.

Oats ready to eat after 24 hours in the fridge.

Chocolate Cherry Chia 24 Hour Oats


  • 3 tbs of oats
  • 2 tbs of chia seeds
  • 1 tbs of cacao powder
  • 1 tbs of protein powder (optional)
  • shake or two of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of pitted and chopped cherries
  • 1 cup of vanilla almond milk or milk of your choice
  • Maple syrup or other sweetener to taste


  1. Place all ingredients in a mason jar.
  2. Cover.
  3. Shake until well combined.
  4. (You may have to open and stir with a spoon to be sure everything gets mixed together.)
  5. Place in the fridge overnight.
  6. In the morning, add sweetener of choice and enjoy.

I usually add a couple of tablespoons of some sort of nut butter for even more flavor and protein.  You can omit it if you want or use whatever type of nut butter you have on hand.

This post shared with Live, Laugh, RoweThe Nourishing Gourmet, A Glimpse InsideUrban Naturale, Rock My Vegan Socks, Fat TuesdayMary’s Kitchen, Girl Meets Nourishement and Homespun Oasis.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tiny Tip Tuesday: Eat Some Berries


Beautiful antioxidant filled berries.

Beautiful antioxidant filled berries.

Summer is definitely here in the Northwest and the Farmer’s Markets are loaded with berries.  Right now, you can fill your fridge with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries and blackberries are just around the corner.  Why is this such good news for those of us interested in our health?  Because these four berries are at the top of the list for providing antioxidants.  Their  bright, vibrant colors are a sign of their antioxidant’s powerful ability to stop free radical damage.  Berries also contain a pain fighting anti-inflammatory called COX-2, found in come scientific studies to be more effective than ibuprofen.

Each of these berries offers their own particular health benefits so I diet rich in all four is optimal.  Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C, manganese and potassium.  Blueberries also have Vitamin C and fiber.  Blackberries have a little protein plus Vitamin E, Vitamin K and omega-3 fats.  Raspberries offer fiber as well as copper, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium.  With all these amazing health benefits, adding berries to your diet is a delicious must do!

Shared on Natural Living Monday, Urban Naturale, Allergy Free Alaska and REal Food Forager.

Photo by Vancity Allie on flickr.

Tiny Tip Tuesday: Eat Hemp

Hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds are one of the new darlings of the health food world and when you take a look at their nutritional profile, you understand why.  Hemp is known for its ideal concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids(1-3 ratio)  which have the potential to beneficially influence heart disease and improve overall health.  Hemp seeds contain all of the essential and non-essential amino acids making it a complete protein- a perfect vegan protein source. (In fact, 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 11 grams of protein.)  They contain GLA (gamma linolenic acid), a building block of anti-inflammatory hormones.  Hemp seeds are chock full of  disease-fighting, plant-based phytonutrients and anti-aging antioxidants such as vitamin E.  It also adds vitamins and  minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin D, zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron.

Hemp seeds have a mild flavor similar to chopped walnuts.  They are excellent in both smoothies and  baked goods, sprinkled on salads or in yogurt and are often made into a source for vegan protein powder.  They are an incredibly versatile source of nutrition.  Tell me about your favorite recipes for hemp seeds.

Buy your hemp seed here: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seed, 8 Ounce Bags (Pack of 2)

Affiliate links shared in this post.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursdays.

See more photos by Ruby Ran on flickr.

Summertime Hydration


Summertime hydration.

The Importance of Summer Hydration.

Hydration: the act or process of combining or treating with water: the introduction of additional fluid into the body

Summertime has arrived in Portland and the importance of proper hydration cannot be overstated.  Our bodies require water to stay alive. Humans can survive for over 30 days without food but a mere 3-5 days without water will lead to death.    In fact, over half of our body weight is water.   Our body uses water for lubricating joints, flushing toxins, nutrient transportation and maintaining proper body temperature.  Water is involved in almost every bodily function.  Poor hydration can lead to constipation, dry and itchy skin, acne, nose bleeds, repeated urinary tract infections, dry coughs, sneezing, sinus pressure, headaches and fatigue.   In fact, a drop in body water as small as 2% can lead to short-term memory problems and difficulty focusing to read a computer screen or printed page. 

Without adequate water consumption, our body will not be able to remove the toxic substances it produces.  Uric acid, urea and lactic acids are all waste products produced by our own bodies.  Our kidneys require sufficient water to dissolve these toxic substances and remove them from the body.  Gout, sore muscles and other difficulties can arise if these substances aren’t removed.

Signs of dehydration:

·         Feeling thirsty

·         Dark colored or scant urine

·         Confusion

·         Headaches

·         Weakness

·         Fainting

·         Dizziness

·         Heart palpitations

·         Inability to sweat

·         No tears

·         Muscle cramps

Recommended Daily Amount of Water:

Recommendations for the amount of water necessary for the average person vary according to activity level, climate, age and other factors. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women take in about 11 cups of fluid a day, and men take in about 15 cups, but that includes liquids found in foods too. Fruits and vegetables add up, since most are at least 80 percent water by weight. For most people, a well-balanced diet combined with 8 glasses of water a day should provide sufficient hydration.  One of the simplest methods of checking for dehydration is looking at the color of your urine.  If your urine is clear or a pale yellow color, you are most likely receiving adequate hydration.

Some people may need more water to maintain optimal health.  Those with certain medical conditions, such as kidney stones or bladder infections, those who are vomiting or have diarrhea and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding will require more water.  Also those who spend more time outside in hot weather or are going to be exercising will have an increased need for water.  As we age, our ability to detect thirst decreases so elderly people need to be more vigilant about staying hydrated.

Sources of Hydration:

Water and liquids found in food should be your primary sources of hydration.  Coconut water, herbal teas, milk, smoothies and fruit and vegetable juices can also contribute to your daily fluid intake.  However, it is important to remember these liquids also add calories and sugar to your diet so they should be consumed in moderation. One to two cups of coffee a day can be acceptable.   Keep in mind, however, caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics which will contribute to dehydration.  There are many tasty and interesting ways to meet your daily hydration needs but water is usually the easiest, most economical and best option.

Check back tomorrow for a yummy recipe for a refreshing Watermelon Aqua Fresca.


See more beautiful photos from Allan Lee on flickr.  Text added by me.

Tiny Tip Tuesday: 3 Tips for Balancing Blood Sugar

Easy tips to help regulate blood sugar.

Easy tips to help regulate blood sugar.

What happens in your body when you eat a big blueberry muffin and wash it down with a giant soda?  Essentially, your body goes into sugar overload.   Your pancreas detects this infusion of sugar, triggering a release of insulin to help cope with the excess sugar.  Insulin, a hormone produced by the body, is responsible for regulating  the level of sugar in our blood.  The more sugar in our bodies, the more insulin our pancreas releases.  Insulin helps store the sugar in the liver and muscles as glycogen (to be used later for energy) and in fat cells as triglycerides.

When we down that white flour blueberry muffin combined with a sugary drink, our body struggles to get the insulin to sugar balance right.  If we load our body with sugar on a regular basis, the body begins to overcompensate for these blasts of sugar by dropping our blood sugar level down lower than it was before we ate the sugar.  This is commonly called a “sugar crash” but the technical name is hypoglycemia.  Our body responds to this crash by craving sweets or feeling hungry. When we respond to these cravings by eating more sugar, the whole process begins again.   Once we are caught in this cycle of crashing and then sugar consumption, we may feel shakiness, grouchiness, trembling or weakness if we go too long without eating.  Most people will feel temporary symptom relief when they eat.  My sister refers to this feeling as being “hangry” – feeling grouchy and short tempered until she gets some food.  Fortunately, there are some steps to take to avoid this blood sugar roller coaster ride.

  1. Limit the amount of sugar you eat.  This includes all forms of sugar- processed carbohydrates, white sugar, agave, honey, sodas, date sugar, muffins, ice cream, cookies, candy or any other food that tastes sweet.
  2. Eat complex carbohydrate rich foods with a protein and/or healthy fat.  Combining a carbohydrate rich food with a protein or fat will slow the digestion of the carbs down, giving your body more time to process the sugar.  An apple slathered with nut butter or whole-wheat bread with avocado and turkey are good examples of healthy combinations.
  3. Eating small, frequent meals.  When we eat on a regular basis, it helps our bodies have a steady source of energy to avoid the peaks and valleys of blood sugar regulation.  Aim to eat every 3-4 hours.

 Photo by Nimish Gogri.  To see more beautiful photos by Nimish go to flickr. (Text on photo added by me.)

Tiny Tip Tuesday: A Happy Tummy = A Happy Mind


Photo by Kyle Simourd on flickr.

Photo by Kyle Simourd on flickr.

Everyone has heard the terms “follow your gut” or “gut feeling” but until recently most people just thought these terms were a figure a speech.  With recent science advances, however, we are discovering there may be more truth to these statements than previously thought.

Science is exploring the impact of gut bacteria or the microbiome on both physical and mental health.  It is thought your gut produces over 70% of your immunity, it regulates digestion and metabolism and produces 90-95% of your serotonin.  Serotonin is sometimes knows as the “feel good” hormone and is a neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of mood, memory, appetite, and sleep.  For people who don’t produce enough serotonin, depression can become an issue.  Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are anti-depression medications that work to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain.  But what if we could increase serotonin by changing our diet to improve gut  health?  Here are three simple steps you can take to increase your serotonin.

  1. Eat a carbohydrate rich meal.  A meal filled with carbohydrates triggers a release of insulin.  This insulin release allows the amino acid tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, to remain in the blood stream at high levels.  These high levels of  tryptophan then allow more serotonin to be produced in the brain.
  2. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimichi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.  Probiotics and fermented foods introduce healthy bacteria to the gut.  This healthy bacteria allows your gut to perform all it’s duties, including serotonin production,  more efficiently.
  3. Chew your food.  Digestion begins in the mouth.  The more your mouth works to break down your food, the less work your gut will have to do.

The science around the microbiome is still in its infancy but with further research, we might be able to better treat depression and other illness with simple adjustments to diet.

This post was shared with Gluten Free Wednesdays, A Mama’s Story and Real Food Forager.

See more photos by Kyle Simourd.


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