Increase Your Hydration!

Many months ago I did a cleanse designed to put my body into fat-burning mode. Part of the regime was to up my water intake by adding 64-ounces (8-cups) of tea to the 64-ounces of water I drank regularly.

What I learned from this exercise was that I was easily able to double the amount of liquids I took in without feeling bloated or needing to pee every 5-minutes. I also found that my body was more hydrated and that I could do without lip balm or moisturizer on my legs…even in winter!

Most of us are waiting too long to hydrate and using food or moisturizer in place of what our body really needs: more water. If you are drinking because you are thirsty, you are already in the dehydration zone. You should be drinking kind of mindlessly through-out the day. I now drink over a gallon of water a day and don’t even notice.

The other benefit of upping your water intake is that it helps flush your body out. I’ve found that this simple change has helped me to stay trimmer with less exercise (not necessarily a worthy goal but awesome when you are a mom with a little one!)

I have a system for making sure I’m meeting my water target. Every morning I brew 64-ounces of a teasan mix that I invented. Be sure to only brew herbs in glass or ceramic containers. Metal and water creates an electrical current that limits the effectiveness of herbs. I use a 64-ounce glass mason jar and every morning I put 2-tablespoons of my concoction in the jar and then fill it up with almost boiling water (boiling water is technically too hot for tea, so say the experts.) I cover the mouth of the jar with a glass bowl and let it sit for 10-minutes. I then pour it through a strainer into my mug. If I’m out and about I’ll take the mason jar of my brew with me. Having my teasan concoction around helps me gauge if I’ve had enough water, because I try and match each mug of teasan with a glass of water.

My recipe is a mix of 1/2-Yerba mate, 1/4-Ceylon cinnamon (very important as other types of cinnamon are too high in a chemical called coumarin for daily consumption) and 1/4-licorice https://emberliving.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/img_1786-0.jpgroot. I buy my herbs in bulk because it creates much less waste and costs of fraction (1/10th if not less!) than tea bags. I was spending about $60-a-month on a mix of two different bagged teas before I came up with my own similar blend that probably costs me a couple of bucks a month. Here are the ingredients I use:

EcoTeas Organic Yerba Mate Loose Tea Cut, Pure Leaf, 5-Pound

Frontier Ceylon Cinnamon Organic Ground Powder , 1 Pound

Frontier Licorice Root C/s, 16 Ounce Bags (Pack of 2)

Health benefits of Yerba Mate: Yerba mate was recommended to me for its impressive fat-burning qualities. For those who want a little energy kick it also has a mild amount of caffeine. If you don’t want/need the caffeine and fat-burning than replace the Yerba Mate with the wonderful Rooibos herb which also has many health benefits (asthma, insomnia and headache relief to name a few) and is also available for purchase here. I often will add in 25% rooibos because I love the taste and benefits. Thanks Kim Hawthorne for the question.

Health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon: regulates blood sugar levels, aids digestion, lowers cholesterol

Health benefits of licorice root: The cinnamon and licorice help to sweeten the mate’s woody flavor. For people who don’t like licorice candy, don’t worry, licorice root tastes nothing like licorice candy. Licorice also has a host of benefits such as helping respiratory and digestive issues, PMS and hepatitis to name a few.

You can get the exact herbs I purchase here:

EcoTeas Organic Yerba Mate Loose Tea Cut, Pure Leaf, 5-Pound

Frontier Ceylon Cinnamon Organic Ground Powder , 1 Pound

Frontier Licorice Root C/s, 16 Ounce Bags (Pack of 2)

Starwest Botanicals Rooibos Tea C/S Organic, 1-pound Bags (Pack of 2)

Enjoy and be a spark in the world!

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An update: one reader asked for clarification on the measurements. Thanks Jennifer Manley for the input.

The jar you see in the picture above is the mix I make once a month or so. I take a 16-oz mason jar and fill it half-way with the loose yerba mate leaf (green on the bottom), then 1/4 with the ceylon cinnamon (middle) and then the other 1/4 with licorice root (those are the 3-components from bottom to top above.) My measurements are approximate. Then I give this bottle a good shake and I leave a tablespoon in it (Why wash a tablespoon every day? As my friend Michelle Powell of Some Like It Organized tells me “store it where you use it!”) Then every morning I put 2-tablespoons of this mix into a 64-oz mason jar and fill it with almost boiling water. Hope this makes sense!

BTW, please use common sense when reading my blog.  I am not a medical professional, I’m simply sharing my experiences.  Please do your own research or consult a medical professional.

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.

jewelsalad

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
1-lemon
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.

An Exercise in Happiness

Science has shown that giving thanks and reflecting on one’s blessings is an excellent way to raise your level of happiness, and since this is the week of Thanksgiving I thought I would blog about a written exercise I did years ago that has stuck with me to this day.

The exercise is really quick, write down the first 20-things that you think of when I say, “what are your favorite things to do that make you happy?”  Probably many of us will interpret “favorite” and “happy” in different ways, but I want you to consider not just the things that you think are “whee fun” like a roller-coaster, but the things in life that give you a sense of satisfaction and contentment.  Feel free to write more than 20.  Do this now.  If you haven’t written down your list of things then don’t read any farther.  Once you are down with your list you can read below.  I’m going to write down my list so you can’t read any farther without scrolling.

My top 20 things that make me happy:

1) Spend time, especially outdoors, with my family

2) Do something outdoors: Hike, bike, ski, play soccer, play tennis, dance, play handball, swim, spelunk, boulder, sail

3) Take a yoga class

4) Read a book, especially Jane Austen or Sherlock Holmes

5) Watch a favorite movie, especially a comedy

6) Do something crafty

7) Cook

8) Travel

9) Camp

10) Talk with a friend

11) Have tea with friends

12) Have a picnic

13) Go antiquing (I don’t even have to buy anything, I just like looking)

14) Finish a project around the house

15) Organize, edit, style my closet

16) Sing, especially with a group

17) Write a song

18) Take a walk through a garden or a forest

19) Host parties

20) Create a new recipe

Okay, once you’ve written down your list, go back through your list and put a “$” sign before anything that takes more than $20 to do.  For instance on my list only 4 of the 20 things cost more than $20 to do: skiing, traveling, camping and hosting parties.  The first time I did this exercise I was in my 20’s and it was a REVELATION to me that most of my favorite things could be done for little to no money.   It can be easy to associate money with happiness, but the reality is that often the deepest satisfaction in life comes from things that are simple and inexpensive to do and can often be done on a daily basis.  I find that there are often themes that can be found in common among different lists, because the reality is that most humans find deep satisfaction in: 1) spending time with loved ones, 2) being engaged in creative pursuits and 3) being engaged in physical activities.  These are activities that not only make us happy, but are also very good for our health physically, mentally and emotionally.  If you had difficulty coming up with your list of 20-things that make you happy, try it again now and see what’s different.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I wish you health and happiness.  Namaste.