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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Create Change

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to dine at a delicious raw food restaurant in northern California. at a place called Cafe Gratitude, it should come as no surprise that it is customary for the waiter to ask guests to share with their table what they are grateful for. However, on this particular night, ours asked us to share “what we were creating”. As the rest of us pondered our response, a resolute member of our party announced “I am creating the exact world that I want to live in”.

Admittedly, I was a bit jealous of his answer and too intimidated to share mine. But, if I were sitting in the restaurant tonight I would say that I, too, am creating the exact life that i want to live, and that I am so grateful for the opportunity to do so.

This year has certainly been a transformational one for me. Autumn always marks a time of change, and this time of year has always seemed to be a transformational stage in my life as well. I remember last October well. There is one day in particular that sticks out. It was an ordinary Saturday, and I was enjoying some fall festivities. I didn't know at the time, but this day would begin a chain of events that would culminate exactly one year later...another October, another fall, another transformation.

So here i am, in the midst of the presence of autumn, and in the midst of probably the biggest changes of my life. In the past year I have begun many new relationships, both platonic, romantic and professional. I have gone back to school to follow my passion for health and wellness. I left my office job of two years with the hopes of turning that passion into a career. I moved out of my apartment, where I lived as a bachelorette for two years. And in two weeks I will be boarding the first of three flights on my way to Kigali, Rwanda where I plan to live for the next 6-9 months doing volunteer work. If you had told me a year ago the world that I would create for myself, I never would have believed it.

There are so many things that nourish our bodies, aside from what choices we make concerning food. When all the different aspects of our lives are in balance, this is when our body, mind and soul thrive and we are at our healthiest. Think about the different areas of you life (relationship, career, geography, physical activity, etc.) and recognize imbalances. What areas would you like to change, where is there room for improvement? How can you create the exact life that you want to live, in the exact world that you want to live it in?

Set goals for yourself. Write them down and hold yourself accountable for reaching them. Express gratitude towards the people or opportunities that helped you attain each goal.

We have the power to create the life we want and we have the power to change the things in our lives that we are unsatisfied with, but we all too often let fear hold us back. Every baby chick must face that first daunting flight. Some take off without hesitation, some need a little push, but in the end they all take that leap of faith, spread their wings and learn to fly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Healthy Chicks Eat Pancakes Too!

Sometimes pancakes are just in order. Often the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves is give ourselves a break. Sleep in, relax, and maybe indulge...just a little. And what better way to indulge than with some banana pancakes! Inspired by one of my happy day song choices, I decided to share a few healthier banana pancake recipes. With gluten free and vegan options, everyone gets a chance to indulge. Whip some up and use your finest china - pancakes surely constitute a special occasion! Eat them with out guilt, with intention and with some syrup!
"maybe we can sleep in, I'll make you banana pancakes, pretend like it's the weekend now" - Jack Johnson

Buckwheat Banana Pancakes
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbs. granulated sugar (substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for a healthier option)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch unrefined sea salt
2 large free range eggs
1 cup organic nonfat milk or soymilk
1/2 cup organic plain nonfat yogurt
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 firm banana, diced
3 tbs. organic shredded coconut

1. Put buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, and set aside.
2. Beat eggs until foamy in a second bowl. Stir in milk, yogurt and vegetable oil. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until free of lumps. Carefully fold banana and coconut into batter.
3. Heat a nonstick skillet, and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of batter onto hot surface, and turn when bubbles appear on surface and bottoms turn golden, after about 2 to 3 minutes. Cook second side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bottoms turn golden. Remove from heat, repeat with remaining batter and serve pancakes hot.

Gluten Free Banana Nut Pancakes
Dry Ingredients:
2 1/3 c. organic brown rice flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Wet Ingredients
1 1/2 c. organic soy milk (or organic cow’s milk)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten (or 6 Tbsp. water and 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed)
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. walnuts, roughly chopped
1 ripe banana, mashed

Instructions: Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give it a few whisks. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk them until they are well beaten. Add the soy milk, oil, and vanilla to the eggs and whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until the ingredients are combined. There will still be a few lumps in the batter, and that’s okay. Now add the nuts and mashed bananas and stir those in. Put the batter aside while you heat up the griddle.

Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium.

Using a 1/4 c. measuring cup, dip the batter out of the bowl and pour onto your skillet. Let the pancakes cook and do not touch them until you see bubbles popping in the middle of the pancake, then flip them over. They will only cook for a minute or two on the second side, and you can use your spatula to peek and see if they are as brown as you want them.

Easy Vegan Banana Pancakes
2 slightly soft organic bananas
1 1/2 cups whole wheat or buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups organic soymilk
1/2 cup brown sugar (substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for a healthier option)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.
2. Pour onto oiled skillet at medium heat, until bubbles form and pop.
3. Brown both sides and serve.
(You may have to thin batter with water to get it to spread easily.)

Pomegranate Syrup

1/2 cup organic all natural pomegranate juice
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons cup organic all natural pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
To prepare syrup, combine 1/2 cup juice and syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Combine 2 tablespoons juice and cornstarch in a bowl; add to pan. Cook 1 minute or until thickened; remove from heat. Serve with pancakes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Healthcare Debate....

"In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties”
~ Henri Fredric Amiel

When you say the words "Integrative Health" or "Integrative Nutrition" most people don't have a clue what you mean. American's today are used to going to their health care practitioner only when something has already gone wrong. And most are seeking a quick result in pill form or an easy access cure. They want one answer. This philosophy, which has been promulgated by the traditionalist training of the medical community and the boom of the pharmaceutical industry is reason number one the United States is in a health crisis. This health crisis and the current healthcare debate is plastered all over the news. Democrats and Republicans alike are duking it out over what the answer should be. Everywhere you turn there's talk of insurance, money, Medicare, pharmaceutical companies. Big Healthcare, big dollars, small results.

Please don't be mistaken, we are indeed in a health crisis. A vast number of families in the United States can't afford health care, yet we are the unhealthiest First World nation in the world! The United States ranks 29th globally in infant mortality - tied with Poland and Slovakia (we were 12th in 1960). Sixty percent of adult deaths are attributable to chronic disease. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and certain preventable cancers like prostate, colon and often breast and ovarian. Our nation is being crippled by chronic disease. Over 46 million citizens are uninsured or under insured. Health insurance premiums rise four times as fast as our pay rates. More than half the bankruptcies in the United States are from medical bills. 66%, SIXTY-SIX percent of US citizens are overweight or obese. Obesity in children has doubled in the past 30 years and tripled in adolescents! (this information was obtained from a presentation given by Dr. Theresa Kennedy).

The flaw in our system lies in its "curative" nature coupled with the fact that it's driven by corporate profit and greed. Health in this country is addressed when something goes wrong. People don't pay attention to what they put in their body or what their body interacts with. We don't have a health care system; we have a SICK care system. We need to change to a preventative system. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. It's not merely the absence of disease. And this is one of our fundamental rights as human beings and as citizens of the United States.

I will say that again, it is a fundamental right for us to live in a state of complete physical, mental and social well being!!

There is hope.

Seven months ago, President Barack Obama requested the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to investigate the health crisis. On February 26th the Committee held a hearing. That hearing directly addressed integrative, yes Integrative Care: a Pathway to a Healthier Nation. Esteemed doctors including Dr. Oz, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Andrew Weil testified. Words that each of highlighted were integrative health, and health Coach. Click here to watch the Senate hearing.

I remember watching this video on the Senate's website days after the hearing was held. I was elated and invigorated knowing that our elected officials were learning about integrative health. I thought back to one of my first days at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition when founder, Joshua Rosenthal said we were on the cusp of something great, that we were creating a health revolution. I believed him, I still do, but I was worried about the rest of the United States. I have seen many people simply roll their eyes when topics like positivity, primary foods, organic produce, environmental toxicity, GMOs and hormones in beef come up. They either don't care or don't believe me or are in denial.

Even though the Senate seems at least open to "alternative" ideas such as health coaches, history makes it obvious that change is not going to happen swiftly. The health care debate raging now is the same one that raged through the 1990s when President Bill Clinton was in office. The only difference is the stakes. They're higher now, Americans are sicker.

I am not posting this blog to seem downtrodden about our Government, its process and the action or inaction it takes. In the words of Mike Adams, the Health Ranger we need a "popular health care revolt; people marching in the streets, setting fire to packets of aspartame." While I think the Health Ranger may be on to something, lets start a health revolution with our own health first. We are the first step in health reform. You are in charge of your own health. A healthy life starts with the choices you make daily, make them good ones! If you are unsure of how to make positive choices to improve your health, reach out to a health coach to help guide the way for you.

Keep it Fresh!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Music is good for your health!

The beauty of music is its ability to move your soul.

I was listening
to Michael Franti and Speahead after having a bit of a disappointing late afternoon and I realized that in the span of one song, my mood turned from discouraged to optimistic- down right giddy in fact. The beauty of music is it's ability to alter your mood. It's something we need to remember to incorporate this into our daily life. When you have identified which music lifts your mood or alters it for the good, you can create your own reality. A single Ipod playlist can change your day.

A study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore discovered that listening to music that you find to be joyful or uplifting can actually improve your cardiovascular health. When participants in a study listened to happy (in their opinion) music, their blood vessels dilated by as much as twenty three percent. Meanwhile, when they listened to music that caused them anxiety, their blood vessels constricted as much as nine percent.

Music also directly affects heart rate as well as breathing rate. To slow down, relax, and meditate, listening to music that is calming can help you relieve stress and enter a meditative state. Decreasing stress levels is one of the best things you can do for your health, both physically and mentally, so when you plug into your Ipod, think about your choice in music and how it will affect you.

The next time you're feeling down, think about what kind of music you feel like listening to. Oftentimes we choose sad music to match our sad or depressed mood. When you catch yourself doing that, remember to choose music that feels joyful to you and listen to that instead. Before you know it, you'll be feeling better. One thing that happens in your body is that your brain waves shift to match the tempo of the music. A faster tempo will enhance your alertness and lengthen your concentration span.

To make a long blog post short....Music Is Good For Your Health!! So put on something you love, smile and know that it's doing your body good.

Terra's Happy Day Ipod Playlist:

Lovely Day - Bill Withers
Antelope - Phish
Say Hey (I love you!) - Michael Franti
Ups & Downs - Juggling Suns
Joyful Sound - The String Cheese Incident
Sparkle - Phish
75 and Sunny - Ryan Montbleau Band
Who Cares - Gnarles Barkley
Ray Of Light - Madonna
I Had A dream - Joss Stone
Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley
Last Dance - Donna Summer
A Little Bit Of Riddim - Michael Franti

Jill's Happy Day Ipod Playlist:

Ani DiFranco - As Is
Indigo Girls - Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate
Jack Johnson - Banana Pancakes
Jennifer Nettles - With Me
Liz Phair - Baby Got Going
Ani DiFranco - Swing
Poe - Hello
Regina Spektor - FidelityJennifer Nettles - With Me
Sugarland - All I Want To Do
Come on Get Higher - Matt Nathanson
Indigo Girls - Romeo and Juliet
4 Non Blondes - What's Up
Ani DiFranco - Jukebox

Lauren's Happy Day iPod Playlist:

Foux Du Fafa - Flight of the Conchords
I Got Mine - The Black Keys
Funky Kingston - Toots & The Maytals
To Be Young - Ryan Adams
Electric Feel - MGMT
Government Magic - Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
Take Your Mama Out - Scissor Sisters
Fireworks - Animal Collective
Nighttrain - James Brown
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
State of Shock - Michael Jackson
Gold Guns Girls - Metric
Half Mast - Empire of the Sun
I Ain't Hiding - The Black Crowes
Long Haired Child - Devendra Banhart
I Love You, Awesome - The Phoenix Foundation
Crying - TV on the Radio
Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear

(you can download all of the songs above from Itunes!)