Health and Happiness 2014: Wonderful Autumnal Salad and Book Recommendation

Every year I wish my friends and family Health and Happiness for the year ahead because if you have those two items well in hand, the rest of life is much easier and more enjoyable!  So here are two items to help contribute to your health and happiness.  An autumnal salad full of antioxidants and other phytonutrients, and the latest book we’ve been reading that is absolutely rocking our worlds!  Enjoy and be a spark in the world!

Happiness: 15 Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

This book is absolutely awesome. Maxwell’s supposition that you don’t get better just because you get older hit me like a thunderbolt of “duh!”  It makes perfect sense once you think about it, but many of us take for granted that we will naturally become better at everything we do just because we have more experience.  He makes a strong case for why this is not true and lays out a plan that is guaranteed to ensure that you don’t just age, but that you progress as well. I can’t wait to finish it AND put his suggestions into practice.  Right now this book keeps bouncing back and forth between our nightstands as we each read a chapter and then discuss it together. You can buy the book here.

Health: Autumn Jewels Antioxidant Salad

I made this salad for a Thanksgiving feast at my daughter’s pre-school and it was a hit.  Witness the “after” photo.  I love the rich jewel colors that the pomegranate seeds, avocado and kabocha squash lend.  Make sure the squash is cool to cold or it will wilt the salad. My recipe will serve 6-12 depending on if it’s an entree or an appetizer.


1-large bunch of red kale washed, despined and shredded
1-large pomegranate (just the seeds of course)
4-ounces of pecans
1-large avocado
1/4-medium sized kabocha squash baked at 300-degrees until soft, do this the night before so that it has time to cool fully
olive oil and sea salt to taste

Chop up pecans, avocado and squash to desired sizes (I like marble size chunks) and toss with pomegranate seeds and kale.  Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sea salt (I like Alaea salt which you can find here), drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the juice of about half a lemon.  Toss and allow to sit for no more than 20-minutes before serving (the lemon juice will wilt the kale and 20-minutes is just enough, any longer and it becomes limp…YUCK!)

I always try to buy organic ingredients.  This is especially important when you are eating a fruit or vegetable without a rind to peel which helps to protect the plant from the chemicals it may have been grown with.  This salad is super good for you.  To learn some of the health benefits I’ve included additional links below.

Kale: Besides having a wonderful crunch (I hate limp food!), kale is also high in protein, Omega-3 and Omega-6 when compared to traditional lettuce.  Kale is also high in folic acid and calcium, and let’s just be frank…eating it is like giving the inside of your body the loofah scrubbing it deserves!!!  If you eat kale regularly you will be regular too ;^)  My entire family eats raw kale twice a day (morning smoothie and afternoon salad) and I feel like it is a major component in our good health.

Pomegranate: super high in Vitamin C and potassium

Pecans: lots of Vitamin E and good for your cholesterol, pecans add some protein to this salad as well as give you some satisfying fat.  Fat is a vitally important building block for the body and helps you feel satisfied when you eat. Also, many nutrients require fat for maximum absorption, so for all these reasons it’s good to have some healthy fats in your salad.

Avocado: Personally I just LOVE LOVE LOVE avocado.  I met someone who was allergic and I felt so incredible sorry for her because avocado is one of my favorite foods.  It also provides lots of healthy fat and helps increase the absorption of carotenoids.  But one of the best health benefits is the high-presence of polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols which is mostly present in ocean vegetables (rare in terrestrial) and helps greatly with anti-inflammation related to arthritis.

Kabocha squash: This squash has a wonderfully starchy and sweet quality.  Almost more like a sweet potato (especially similar to purple Okinawan sweet potato if you’ve ever had any of that deliciousness!!!) Super high in Vitamin A. In my opinion its taste and mouth-feel is HIGHLY superior to butternut squash and it has fewer calories and starches than butternut (win-win-win!)

Olive Oil: Great for the cardiovascular system and again, a super good fat for you (like pecans and avocados.) Be sure to buy extra virgin first cold-pressed.  Heat will always compromise the nutritional benefits of produce, so you want things to be as close to raw as possible and the cold-press designation helps assure that.  BTW, I only “dress” my foods with olive oils, I never cook with olive oil because it starts to break down at relatively low temperatures. I cook with ghee. This is the brand of olive oil I use in my kitchen.

Disclaimer: please use common sense as my blog represents my opinion only.  I am not a medical-professional so take a big tablespoon of Alaea salt with what I say and please do your own research too!  Mahalo and Happy Holidays.

Family Mission Statment

My hubby and I have recently been listening to Stephen Covey’s “7-Habits of Highly Effective People.” The other day a spiritually-inclined acquaintance of mine asked if by effective Covey actually meant “successful people who do a lot.” It was a challenge for me to explain exactly what Covey meant by effective while in the moment. I find Covey’s own definition of effectiveness as “balance between the production of desired results and the production capability” to be vague. Upon reflecting I can now say that what I have gleaned from the 7-habits is a thoughtful system that allows me to realize my potential in all my roles in life from the mundane to the spiritual.

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In my on-going goals to be the best wife and mother I can be, our family embarked on the voyage of crafting a mission statement. Although I had my own thoughts about how I wanted our statement to be shaped, we decided to do some research first and came across this excellent article by the ART OF MANLINESS blog (best blog name ever!) who’s post was also inspired by Covey!

We decided that we felt a good mission statement would be short and actionable while encompassing as much as possible, much like the Golden Rule. I suggested a “what, what, how” format as in what does our family stand for, why and how can we ensure we are staying on track and really living our mission day-to-day. We didn’t want something solely aspirational, we also wanted the statement to keep us accountable on a daily basis.

Here is our first draft:

Our family is committed to creating an environment of:
-love and cooperation
-generosity and gratitude
-orderliness of mind and space
-fun and positivity

In order to provide each of us:
-the opportunity to realize our full potential
-with an atmosphere of support and abundance
-and create a strong connection to our community and planet

To this end we will:
-strive for optimal health through exercise and nutrition
-make choices that are always mindful of resource conservation
-go to bed at 10 and wake-up at 6
-straighten or fix 1-thing in the house a day
-do something creative or mind-improving daily
-engage in every interaction with kindness and effectiveness
-volunteer regularly
-get outside daily
-have a weekly meeting where we reflect on our interactions

I’d love to hear from other families who have mission statements! I do believe that if you have a destination that you are aiming for, then you need a roadmap to get there and that’s what a mission statement can do for a family. Be a spark in the world!

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