Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fun Size Carrots

I recently read an email that is going around about a shocking report on the production of cocktail carrots. Some of it is true, other parts are stretched just a bit.

In talking to people, I  was surprised how many were unaware of how these cocktail carrots, in their convenient and "cute" size, actually came about and how they are commonly prepared.

For those who missed the memo, these mini carrots- great for small fingers to hold and that make perfect appetizers to go in a vegetable party tray- are larger carrots that are mechanically peeled and shaped into uniform sizes. The process, I suppose, is similar to a rock tumbling function.

The carrots are dipped in a water and chlorine solution (think swimming pool) to preserve their freshness and prevent microbes from growing. (I hate to break it to you, but many ready to eat veggies are processed the same way.) They are then rinsed in drinking water to remove residue. In the final stage of production, carrots are packaged in plastic bags and shipped to stores for consumer purchase.

Cocktail carrots were originally made from deformed carrots that couldn't be sold along with their well-formed counter parts, but now growers have bred carrot varieties especially for the "grab and go" convenience. These new breeds are higher in sugar content (to appeal to childrens' sweet taste buds) and have the bright orange color bred in for visual appeal as well.

Think about it...we all know what non-preserved vegetables look like after even a few days of being cut and peeled-even when stored in plastic zipper bags in the refrigerator, so it makes sense that some sort of preservative has to be provided for these pre-cut million dollar "babies" of the grocer's vegetable aisle.

You can read the Snopes report here.  Then decide for yourself if buying convenience is the best option for your family.

There's your Thursday food for thought. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vitamin D and Your Health

As fall approaches, many people are noting the shorter days. With less light comes more need for the crucial vitamin D (technically not a vitamin at all but a hormone.) Frequently referred to as the "sunshine vitamin", it's name comes from the fact that the body synthesizes vitamin D through sunlight exposure. Due to modern day demands on time that disallows being outdoors, overuse of sunscreen, and heavier clothing, a noted increase in vitamin D deficiency has been acknowledged by the medical profession. Those who live in northern climates may be at higher risk.

Deficiency in vitamin D contributes not only to health issues of the bones and teeth, but statistics show that it may also be a factor in HBP, heart disease, diabetes and several types of cancer. Intervention with D therapy has been shown to improve many health conditions dramatically.

Sun exposure of 10-20 minutes per day on approximately 40% of the skin, fat soluble foods such as cod liver, egg yolk, some types of fish and dairy products and supplemental D3 can bring levels back into the healthy range. Have D levels checked by a doctor before adding a supplemental regimen and have them monitored periodically.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How's Your Physiology Looking?

What is your physiology, you ask. It's how you "appear". Your you look and act says a lot about your physical, mental and emotional states according to Tony Robbins and most other experts on the topic. Though not an expert, per se, I happen to agree wholeheartedly.

For instance, if you don't smile often, try doing just that as a small experiment. Smile wide and hold that smile. How do you feel compared to your more somber expression?

When you see a person with shoulders hunched forward or head down, what do you think they might be feeling? Do they look like they feel great? On top of the world? Excited or happy? Or do they look like they might be feeling downtrodden, sad, anxious or some other slightly less than positive emotion?

If you notice someone who looks depressed, how do they talk? Low.... or in a monotone? How are their facial expressions? Are they smiling, frowning? Are the muscles of their face tense?

Take some time to play with your physiology and see if it doesn't change your state of being.
  • Smile when you're feeling grumpy or sad.
  • Hold your head up and shoulders back when you're feeling depressed or lacking confidence. 
  • Keep your arms at your sides when talking to someone instead of folding them across your chest which makes you "appear" unapproachable or confrontational.
  • Make eye contact to exude confidence.
Small changes in your physiology will change not only how others perceive you, but how YOU perceive you. Try it and see for yourself.

Monday, July 5, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude is essential to well-being. Most people would agree to that, but it's doubtful that many adhere to a daily practice of appreciation. Unfortunately, most of us buzz through life on adrenaline overload, not stopping until we're "supposed" to at bedtime.

As for me, it's about 98 degrees here today and I.....well, I'm sweltering. (Remember, we're 4 season here and the coldest one of those can last about 6 months out of the year which makes it tougher to acclimate when our summer finally arrives.) :-)

But I'm thankful even with the high heat and humidity. Why? Easy. I'm here with my feet up doing part of my workday from my laptop. I'm in a pair of shorts and said feet are bare. There are birds chirping outside my window and I have full ability to get up any time I choose and go make that tall glass of iced tea I've been craving.

I could just as easily be cussing because the humidity is horrendous, but nope......I'm not going there. I'm appreciating this moment of warmth. I'm feeling an attitude of gratitude for the fact that my heating system isn't on and running up a bill. I'm thankful that I have this ability to be able to do part of my work from the comfort of my own home. I am blessed to have legs that move me to make that iced tea.

So tell me...... how's YOUR attitude of gratitude today?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What About Me?

I've been asked a number of times what I do as a natural health care practitioner, to relax myself. Many people might think massage and other types of bodywork are the number one things on my list of things to do. I will say they are "up" on the list, of course. :-) Massage and bodywork have numerous benefits including relaxation and improving overall health and wellbeing, but there are a number of ways that I can use to take care of me. These are just a few of my favorites:
  • Walking
  • Breathing exercises 
  • Meditation
  • Reading
  • Appreciate as much as possible - even the simplest thing
  • Driving
  • Motorcycle riding
  • Petting my cat, Lucky
 You'll notice these activities are mostly free and readily available. I find it's good to have a ready-made list to help me to access that relaxing point which I might not otherwise get to when I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

I urge you to make your own list today. Discover what helps make YOU feel relaxed and gives you that break that you may need, or need without knowing you need it. :-)

Oh, and........ I love coloring mandalas like the one you see below!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What are You Drinking for Energy?

A friend mentioned to me the other day that she doesn't need alcohol to give her a boost while out with friends. She simply drinks caffeine drinks to get her energy.


Those energy drinks in a can may have excessively high amounts of caffeine.  Studies have shown that not only do they increase your energy, but they may also have enough caffeine to induce rapid heartbeat, dizziness, high blood pressure, vomiting and other unpleasant effects as reported to the US Poison Control Center.

Many consumers of these so-called energy drinks are teens and young adults who may mix the drinks with alcohol - encouraging an even more detrimental affect on their bodies.

So what can you do to give that burst of much needed energy to persevere through the day?

For starters: consider getting more sleep. Now there's a thought! Stop burning the candle at both ends already. Your body requires 7-9 hours of good quality sleep to feel its best. Add to it a healthier diet and some exercise and you may just find you don't even need those energy drinks at all.

And yet, for those times when all else fails - consider drinking green tea or green tea with added ginseng to give you a healthier dose of pep. An added bonus is green tea might just help your metabolism to burn off those couple extra pounds.

The Best Place to Start is With You

And the best starting point is with the question: What do you do for YOU?

How do you take care of yourself?
What relaxes you?
Do you make time for you or do you push through to get to the "end result" of your day?

Most of us start off our day with a to-do list a mile long. And that's ok - to a point. It's productive to have a plan and goals set for the day, but it's important that those plans and goals include regular self-care too, to avoid burnout and the feeling of "what am I doing all this for?".

Self-care can mean anything from starting your day with a good breakfast to getting a massage during free time to taking time to relax with a walk in the sunshine. Of course, there are probably millions of ways to provide self-care for yourself. But it needs to be scheduled in right along with work, shuffling kids, and house and yard work.

Make a list of your daily activities today and find out for yourself where you are with your self-care routine. It might surprise you to find yourself near the bottom of the list.