Fun Facts about Fennel

Being from India, I always took fennel for granted. It was just there. My mom cooked with it, you could find it in a bowl at the exit of every restaurant in India (in place of the mints we see in America) and it was available everywhere.  I never understood its health benefits... until now.

Fennel has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb since the times of the ancient Greeks. For those who have trouble with poor digestion, gas, belching, and bloating, a few ounces of fennel seeds or simple cup of fennel tea after a heavy meal can be the most effective remedy.  This explains why you can grab a spoon of fennel seeds when leaving any restaurant in India.  It's known for its licorice type favor and it's source of Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fiber and pytonutrient content.  And who knew that it does so much more... 

1. May prevent cancer- research has shown that the fennel seed extract can not only inhibit the growth of tumors due to its flavonoids, alkaloids, and phenols, but that it can even be somewhat chemo-protective against the harmful effects of radiation during cancer treatment. However fennel does have mild estrogen like properties so those with estrogen positive cancer may want to limit intake. 

2. Regulates Blood pressure- Fennel has a high source of potassium.  Low sodium intake is important to regulate blood pressure, however so is the increase in potassium due to the role of vasodilation (the dilation and contraction of blood vessels).  High blood pressure can lead to a variety of illnesses like stroke and heart attack.

3. Helps Skin- Because Fennel contains so much Vitamin C and Vitamin C is essential to collagen, the skin's support system, it works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent skin damage and has the ability to improve overall skin texture.

4. Helps produce breast milk- The seeds increase milk production by stimulating the action of the hormone prolactin. This is the hormone that controls milk production by the mammary glands.  It's believed that it is more effective when combined with fenugreek.

Fennel seeds have officially made their way into my daily regime. Here are some ways you can incorporate them into yours:

  • Eat a spoonful after every meal- remember indigestion and breath freshener
  • Infuse in your regular cup of tea
  • Add it to water 
  • Make fennel tea (steep fennel seeds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.  Strain and serve)

 

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Anti Cancer- A New Way of Life

Looking for a summer read...  Look no further.  

"All of us have cancer cells in our bodies. But not all of us will get cancer." is how the author David Servan-Schreiber subtitled this book.

Anti-Cancer was my first read when I was diagnosed and remains my favorite today.  The knowledge in this book helped me understand all about cancer cells, why they thrive and what inhibits them.  It helped me escape the "why me" stage quickly and get myself into plan mode.   

David Servan-Schreiber, a scientist and doctor who was diagnosed with a brain cancer.  He explains so many of the environmental changes in society that he believes can be the reason why the number of people with cancer has increased since the 1950's.  Have you noticed that so many young people are being diagnosed?

I highly suggest this book, even if you don't have cancer.  His advice about diet, lifestyle, checmicals and stress come from a medcal viewpoint yet easy to understand.  You'll want to live a better life after this read!

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Kuchumer Salad

This is a fun, light refreshing salad that can be paired with any Indian meal.  I pair it with an Indian Style Sea Bass; however it goes well with all Indian cuisine.                                          

Instructions

  1. Small Dice Ingredients 1-4
  2. Place in refrigerator to cool
  3. When ready to eat, add ingredients 5-8. 
  4. Garnish with Coriander leaves and serve in a lettuce leaf.

Ingredients

  1. 1 Cucumber pitted (remove seeds and juice or use baby cucumber)
  2. 1 Tomato pitted (remove seeds and juice)
  3. 1 ripe mango
  4. 1/2 Onion
  5. Salt & Pepper
  6. Lemon Juice
  7. Cumin Powder
  8. Red Pepper
  9. Coriander Leaves
  10. Romain Lettuce Leaves
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Indian Sea Bass (served with Kuchumber Salad)

Instructions

Serves 2

1.  Wash Sea Bass and pat dry.

2. Season with ingredients 3-7.

3. Heat 2 tbsp of olive on a pan.  When pan is very hot, add Sea Bass and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

4. Serve with Kuchumber Salad.

 

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb. Sea Bass
  2. 2 tsp Olive Oil 
  3. 1 tsp Salt
  4. 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Pepper
  5. 1/2 tsp Amchoor (Mango Powder)
  6. 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  7. 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

This is definitely going down as one of my favorite recipes!  I recently took a cooking class and Chef Manju Kukar taught this delicious meal. Sea Bass is one of my favorites because it's 'not so fishy' taste and smell so I was immediately drawn to this class when I saw that it can be made Indian style. 

Sea Bass is low calorie and an excellent source of protein, selenium and essential omega-3 fatty acids. It does contain mercury however; I don't eat it very often.   

I highly recommend this with a cold, refreshing Kuchumber Salad!

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A Conditioner that will make you Tingle!

I never thought I'd be buying my conditioner from the place I grocery shop, but I recently did and very happy with the purchase!  I was shopping for groceries in Trader Joe's when I saw a few people pick up Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner.  I was planning on looking for a natural conditioner anyway since my hair is longer now and will need conditioner regularly once I go wigless.  

I read the ingredients in the store and was happy to find that it contains no laurel/laureth sulfates and no synthetic fragrances, something I always look to avoid in products.  Here's why- 

·         Sodium laureth sulfate-  A contraction of sodium lauryl ether sulfate, is an anionic detergent found in many personal care products. It's an inexpensive foaming agent however has a bad rep of possibly being harmful.  Laureth Sulfate is sometimes contaminated with 1,4 dioxane which is a carcinogen.

·         Synthetic Fragrance - A report by the National Academy of Sciences noted that 95% of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum and includes benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene, and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects.

Sulfates in your hair products are also known to strip moisture, leaving your hair feeling or looking dry.  

I pushed my shopping cart aside and took a few minutes to check out the reviews on Amazon.  60% of the 246 reviews were 5 stars and 17% were 4 stars.  Customers who have been using it say that it detangles, adds moisture and makes their hair soft.   When I got home and tried it and I agree that it detangled and softened my hair.  I have curly locks that end up in knots after showering (even when I use conditioner) and this was the first time that didn't happen! It also gave my hair a bounce.

The packaging explains that Trader Joe's has worked with and upscale boutique to create this salon quality product.  It contains a ton of natural ingredients such as water, tea tree, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, nettle oil, thyme oil, birch leaf oil, chamomile oil, clary, coltsfoot leaf, and more.  Doesn't hearing that your hair product contains oil make you feel that it will do a better job in the moisturizing category?  The two ingredients that are not as natural as the rest are stearlkonium chloride (however derived from animal and plants) and phenoxyethanol, however, both can be found towards the end of the ingredient list.  On a product label, ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first, followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts.

The best and most inexpensive way to buy- Trader Joe's.  It can also be found on Amazon.    Once you read the rave reviews, you'll want some tingle too!

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Bon Ami- my new "Good Friend"

In French, Bon Ami means "Good Friend" and boy has this powder cleaner become just that to me.  I initially purchased it because it's free of toxic ingredients.  The packaging boasts "hypoallergneic", "no chlorine, perfume or dye".  With 5 simple ingredients (Limestone, Feldspar, Surfactant, Soda Ash, and Baking Soda), this is one of the most natural cleaners I could find without having to make it myself.  It was also made in 1886 before cleaning turned chemical.  

Initially, I liked it because it didn't leave a toxic smell in my house however, I fell in love with it when my daughter's wet project left a red stain on my (quartz) counter that wouldn't go away with anything and everything I tried.  I was seriously stressed!  What kind of paper & paints are they using in school anyway!?  Finally I broke out my new, unopened Bon Ami out of desperation (I didn't think it would work being that it didn't contain any harsh chemicals) and in less than 3 seconds, with some mild scrubbing, the stain was gone. 

Bon Ami can be used on counters, cookware and in the bathroom.  It should not be used on glass and mirror.  It doesn't scratch and the hundreds of reviews on Amazon will confirm that.  The most inexpensive way to purchase is on Amazon however you have to order 6 for Prime Shipping (comes to $1.02 per bottle).  If you are a minimalist like me and 5 extra items in your house will give you clutter anxiety, you can pay a little more at Target (free shipping with the Target Red Card).  Either way, I promise, you've made a really "Good Friend".  

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A Healthy-er Pizza

Finally- a healthier Pizza!  Who doesn't love pizza (okay, believe it or not, I know one person)?   

I first tried this recipe (and loved it!) when I ordered Blue Apron, but since then I have made some tweaks.  

I make this easy for myself by going to the pizzeria down the street with my pizza pan and buying whole wheat or multi grain dough.  They'll even roll is out for you and put it in a box!

When I come home all I have to do is cook the topping (which takes about 10 min) and then bake for 16 min.  I usually double the garlic, add more capers and season it with additional red pepper!

It's about time I don't have to feel guilty about eating pizza! 

Instructions

Serves 4

1.  Preheat oven to 475F.

2. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in pan, Add cabbage and garlic, season with salt & pepper.

3. Cook (stir occasionally) for 8 minutes.

4. Add 3 tbsp of capers and red flakes to taste.  Cook an additional 2 minutes.

5. Spread mixture on Pizza Dough.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and add cheese.  Bake for another 6 minutes.  

 

Ingredients

  1. Pizza Dough (see above)
  2. 1 bag Trader Joe's Shredded Cabbage
  3. 4 cloves Garlic
  4. 1 cup Trader Joe's low fat Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  5. 1/2 tsp (smoked) paprika
  6. Capers
  7. Red Pepper Flakes
  8. Salt & Pepper to taste
  9. Olive oil
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Scallops with Spinach over Angel Hair Pasta

This is by far one of my favorite recipes!   We all know salmon is good for us, but what about other fish?  I was pleasantly surprised when I found out scallops are loaded with B-12!  You need B-12 primarily for red blood cell production, but it also gives you brain power, supports cell functions throughout your body and keeps your metabolism going.  This one serving of scallops provides you with all of your daily B-12. 

You can make this dish even tastier by using more butter than I recommend and you can go a little heavier on the breadcrumbs and pasta.  For those of you who want to keep it healthy like me, I recommend olive oil instead of butter, lots of spinach (you can cook it in garlic for extra flavor) and go light on the pasta.  And here's a tip for everyone- Use plenty of lemon.  It has vitamin C and brings adds tons of flavor.  

Instructions

Serves 2

1.  Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Pour melted butter (or olive oil) into a casserole dish.  Add scallops and coat them evenly.

3. Add ingredients 3-6, mix and coat scallops evenly.

4. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. Cook a small amount of Angel Hair Pasta per instructions on package and set aside.

6. Chop spinach into very small pieces, then cook in olive oil until wilted (optional- add garlic for extra flavor).  Add salt & pepper.

7. Time to plate- First plate pasta, season with lemon.  Then mix in spinach.  Top with scallops and season with lemon again.  

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound bay scallops, rinsed
  2. 2 tbsp melted butter (or olive oil)
  3. 1/2 cup seasoned or panko breadcrumbs
  4. 6 gloves garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 tsp (smoked) paprika
  6. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  7. Angel Hair Pasta
  8. Trader Joes Organics Fresh Spinach, chopped
  9. 1 Lemon
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Banana Zucchini Oat Muffins

I am a huge believer in breakfast!  I wake up starving so I never understand how people go without it.  From personal experience, I also believe it gets your metabolism going and if you pack your heavier meals in the earlier part of the day, you'll eat less at night.

But often people say they don't have time for breakfast.  And many who actually eat it, are really eating what I think should be dessert.  Most breakfasts are filled with carbs and sugar (e.g.: pancakes or waffles with syrup or bagel with cream cheese).  Where has the nutrition in breakfast disappeared to?

Think about it this way....  Breakfast is an opportunity for you to refuel your body, give yourself energy and start your daily activities with a boost of nutrients.  If you don't have the time to make an omelette with veggies, this recipe is a simple fix that can last you all week.  And it will give you whole grains, protein, fiber and calcium.  That's what I call a healthy way to start your day! 

I got this recipe from a website called Hummusapien.  I added and subtracted a bit to make it healthier as I do with most recipes but what I love most about this is that you can add just about anything to make it to your liking.  Want it sweeter? -  add honey or cranberries.  Want it richer?  -add nuts or dark chocolate.   

Master these and bring a healthy breakfast back into your life!  

Instructions

Makes 12 muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.   Coat 12 muffin liners with a small drop of olive oil each and place into muffin tin.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Extra add-ins depending on your taste: cranberries, dark chocolate chips or nuts.
  3. Distribute mixture to 12 muffin liners. 
  4. Bake for 25 min.  

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups Organic oats
  2. 1 large organic zucchini (peel & grate)
  3. 2 small (very) ripe organic bananas (peel & grate)
  4. 1/2 cup Almond Milk (or Milk)
  5. 1/4 cup organic Peanut Butter
  6. 1 egg (or 1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
  7. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  8. 1 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1 tsp salt
  10. 1 Tbsp chia or flax seeds
  11. 1 Tbsp baking powder
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A Cleaner with a "Purpose"

Many of the cleaners we use have harsh chemicals.  If you have a strong sense of smell like me, you can probably smell them when you get home after your cleaners were in or want to gag when you have to clean up a spill or stain. 

Well, gag no more because there are some alternatives that actually work. 

I have a few personal favorites.  They aren't perfect, however they are a better alternative to the common brands like Lysol and Clorox.  

Today I'll tell you about one of them- Seventh Generation All Purpose Natural Cleaner

The first thing you'll like about it is that it doesn't smell toxic like many of the others.  In fact, it does not have much of a smell at all because of the minimal amount of chemicals, lack of chlorine bleach and because it does not contain synthetic fragrance (believed to be harmful to health).  Secondly, you'll appreciate that it does the job.  

According to the packaging, Seventh Generation only contains 6 ingredients, 5 of which are considered "clean" (no pun intended).  The only one that is of some concern is Methylisothiazolinone which is a synthetic chemical that is potentially an allergenic.  A report released by the European Scientific Committee in 2003 concluded that insufficient information was available to allow for an adequate risk assessment analysis of this chemical.

I like that the first ingredient is water and the next 3 are plant based or plant derived.    

The best part of all is that's it's inexpensive!  I buy it from Target, however you can also find it on Amazon with prime pantry.  

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Health Benefits of Green Tea

I always heard how healthy Green Tea was, however I never understood the actual benefits until recently.  Now, I'm addicted!  Here's why...

  1. High in Antioxidants so may prevent cancer-  It's less processed than most other teas so it's high in antioxidants.   Remember, antioxidants help prevent or repair cell damage.  Since cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, it is believe that Green Tea may help prevent or repair it.  In addition, according to the National Cancer Institute, the polyphenols in green tea have been shown to decrease tumor growth in laboratory and animal studies and may protect against damage caused by ultraviolet UVB radiation.

  2. Good for the heart and believed to lower Cholesterol-  Green tea contains catechins, polyphonic compounds that are thought to exert numerous protective effects, particularly on the cardiovascular system.  An analysis of published studies in 2011  found that consuming green tea, either as a beverage or in capsule form, was linked to significant but modest reductions in total and LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

  3. May reduce risk of Alzheimer's & Parkinson's- Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, which may lower the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Green tea is made from more mature leaves that are not fermented or oxidized. Most of the flavonoids in green tea are catechins, and one in particular is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits in green tea. Green tea also contains a lot of polyphenols and has a lower caffeine content than black tea.  It's a great alternative to other beverages like carbonated beverages, regular tea and alcohol!

Although loose green tea is better, I tend to buy the organic version in bags simply for convenience.  Always seep 1-2 minutes (no more) so you are soaking up the multiple benefits. Avoid seeping more than 2 minutes as your tea will taste too bitter.  

Bigelow Green tea happens to be my favorite.  I't took me a few weeks to acquire the taste but once I did, it became a regular in my everyday.   

 

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My Christmas Salad

I'm calling this my Christmas Salad because I made this salad last night for my Christmas Eve Dinner and it was a hit!

Made from Arugula & Slaw, this salad contains lots of leafy greens.  Arugula is known to contain phytochemicals which is believed to be beneficial in preventing cancer.  It's also loaded with folic acid (helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer) and antioxidants like Vitamin K, A & C.    

I am a big fan of adding slaw to my salads,  It's a great way to add more veggies AND it will make your salad look more colorful (a.k.a- appealing to eat!).                                               

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice apple
  2. Cut Mozzarella balls in half or quarters 
  3. Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl, top with pecans and season with salt, pepper and a touch of balsamic vinegar

Ingredients

  1. Arugula
  2. Slaw (I usually buy from Trader Joes)
  3. Apple
  4. Fresh Mozzarella (I use Mozzarella balls)
  5. Sunflower Seeds
  6. Pecans (I use Roasted & Salted but any will do)
  7. Salt & Pepper
  8. Balsamic Vinegar
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Are you Dee-hydrated?

Do you drink enough water? 
Water is one of the best medicines we can ask for but yet most of us don't drink enough of it.  In order to function properly our body needs water; however we lose a lot of it on a daily basis in the form of sweat, urine & saliva.   

Why is water so important:

  1. Improves energy- Our muscles are mainly made up of water so it's no surprise that we need plenty of it to stay energized.  When muscle cells don't have adequate fluid, they don’t work as well.  So if you are feeling lethargic or need more energy, hydration can be your answer.
  2. Promotes weight loss- Although hard to believe, more is less in this case.  Substituting higher calorie drinks for water is one reason.  The other is because water is filling so a few extra glasses per day can result in eating a few hundred less calories per day.  And water has no calories! You do the math….
  3. Improves skin (my favorite)-  While there’s no medical evidence that water improves skin, many people have reported a glow in their skin when drinking more of it.  Julius Few, M.D., director of The Few Institute and clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of Chicago says, “When skin is hydrated, plump, and elastic, it’s less likely to crack and let in external particles that can cause irritations and blemishes.”  Dermatologist Kenneth Ellner, MD says  “Don't expect over-hydration to  erase wrinkles or fine lines but it Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled. 
  4. Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function-   When you don't drink enough water,  the colon pulls water from stool and this causes constipation.  
  5. May Cure Headaches- Can help cure headaches- According to medical news today, When the body is dehydrated, the brain can temporarily contract or shrink from fluid loss. This mechanism causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing pain and resulting in a dehydration headache.  Ever have a hangover after drinking?  Next time try drinking a glass of water after every drink and you’ll feel fine in the morning. 
  6. Boosts Immune System- Water helps to circulate oxygen to cells so it’s vital for properly functioning systems. It also aids in removing waste, toxins and chemicals from the body, so drinking more of it could help prevent unwanted build up that is potentially hurting your immune system.

Eight 8 oz glasses is the guideline to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

Although this is all pretty clear (no pun intended), the hard part is how to do it...

Here are my tips:

  1. Drink a glass of water with every meal and snack
  2. Keep a covered glass of water on your nightstand and drink it as soon as you wake up each morning.
  3. If you find water boring, add fruits like strawberries, lime or lemon to flavor it up.
  4. My favorite! - use a timed water bottle (pic below).  I purchased mine from Amazon and it keeps me honest (and hydrated) every day!  Bonus- it's BPA free.  

,Friends, it's about 'TIME' we all get more hydrated!

 

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My Weekday Smoothie

I am always looking to get more  servings of fruits and veggies in my day so here's another way I've been able to do it.  I've made this drink a part of my weekday daily routine.  I usually throw in whatever fruits & veggies I have at home; however I do my best to load it with cancer fighting ones and always add 2 spoons of chia seeds.    

At first my drink contained more fruit, less veggies for taste purposes but I started changing the ratio of fruit to veggies daily (more veggies, less fruit) and my taste buds quickly adjusted.  

Below is the recipe for my smoothie today however every day I change it up so don't feel like you have to use the same ingredients.  I tend to use different types of berries in the summer as they are loaded with antioxidents.  

If you are running out of the house every morning, you can also pack your blender with the ingredients (minus the water) the night before.  You can blend this right before leaving the house and take in a travel cup for your commute.  Some 'fruitful' advice- drink within the hour as I do believe the drink lose some of its nutritional value over time.  

Instructions

Serves 1

  1. Load your blender/bullet with whatever fruits and veggies you have in your refrigerator.
  2. Add Chia Seeds
  3. Before drinking, add water & blend   
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Veggie Filled Omelette

Veggies have so many medicinal effects so I am always looking for ways to get more in my day.  I wake up super hungry so a veggie omelette for breakfast is the best way for me to do it!

You can use any vegetables you love.  I usually add mushrooms; however, below I share with you my simplest recipe.   

If you are a hungry morning person like me, you can also add sprouted bread.  I personally prefer Food for Life Ezikiel because it's made with grains and contains no flour or sugar AND easy to find at my local Trader Joe's. 

Instructions

Serves 2

  1. Chop onion, spinach, tomatoes & garlic. Saute in olive oil for 2 min.
  2. Beat 4 eggs (2 with yolk & 2 egg white)
  3. Add cooked vegetables to egg mixture.
  4. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Add mixture.  

Ingredients

  1. 4 eggs
  2. A small onion 
  3. 1 cup organic spinach
  4. 1 small tomato
  5. 4 cloves of garlic
  6. Salt & Pepper
  7. Olive oil
  8. Goat Cheese
  • In the first 30-seconds of cooking, use a spatula to create 6-10 small cuts through the omelette. This allows the uncooked egg on the top to flow down to the bottom of the pan.
  • When top surface of eggs is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, flip omelette over.
  • Sprinkle a small quantity of goat cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer) and flip one half over the other.
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My "Go To" Salad

I call this my "GO TO" Salad because it's the quick, easy one I can throw together when I can't think of anything else.  I always have these ingredients in my house! 

Spinach has tons of health benefits, like phytonutrients (helps prevent disease) and walnuts contain antioxidants and great for the brain.  

I usually make my own dressing as many store bought ones contain preservatives.  You'll be surprised- Lemon, salt & pepper will do it!                                                       

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop Spinach
  2. Slice Apple into thin slices, then cut in half
  3. Mix first 2 ingredients together in Salad Bowl then top with walnuts, Salt & Pepper & lemon

Ingredients

  1. Spinach or Arugula
  2. One red organic apple
  3. Walnuts
  4. 1/2 Lemon
  5. Salt & Pepper
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Salmon with Green Beans

Instructions

Serves 2

1.  Boil 1 cup of Water on high.  Once boiling, add rice and cover on low for 12-15 min (Brown Rice requires 30 min).  Fluff rice and sprinkle lemon when done.  

2. Season Salmon with Salt, Pepper & Lemon.  Cut stems off Green Beans.  Season Green Beans with salt, pepper & olive oil.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on 2 separate pans:  

  • Pan 1- Cook Salmon top side first for 4-5 min on low heat.  Flip to skin side and cook same time or until no longer pink. 
  • Pan 2-  Saute Green Beans for 7 minutes on medium heat.

4. Divide in 2 dishes.  Garnish with lemon.  

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb. Wild Salmon
  2. 2 cups Organic Green Beans 
  3. 1/2 cup White or Brown Rice
  4. 1 Lemon
  5. Salt & Pepper
  6. Olive Oil
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Thick Skin may not help you this time

Do you have thick skin?  Well, it doesn’t matter.  Our skin is porous so even if you are thick skinned, you can be absorbing harmful chemicals when you shower, shampoo, put on makeup or even when you do something you think is helpful like apply sunscreen.

Take a good look at the ingredients in the soap in your shower.  If it contains the word fragrance (synthetic), you should either switch to the non-scented version or choose a more natural product.  Fragrance is what makes our products smell oh sooo clean and fresh.  It's often the reason we make our way to the register.  But next time you get carried away by that delightful smell, please sniff up this post.  

Unfortunately synthetic fragrance has been blamed for many ailments ranging from respiratory issues like asthma to hormone disruptive issues like cancer.  A report by the National Academy of Sciences noted that 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil) and include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene, and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.  I've personally seen that when people with respiratory issues eliminate fragrance, they feel much better. 

Olives, Green tea and Avocado are staples in my diet so when I saw them in this natural body wash (Shea Moisture), I had to give it a try (post my company research of course!).  Shea Moisture was started in 1912 by a women named Sofi Tucker who started selling Black Soap in her small hometown in Africa.  Her grandchildren took over her legacy and continue to promise products safe of ingredients like parabens, sulfates, phosphates, petroleum,  propylene and formaldehyde.  The soap doesn't lather for that reason, however it goes on smooth and has a nice light smell.  It’s also very thick so a little goes a long way. 

I bought my body wash from a large grocery store; however stores like Target and Amazon carry it on line.  You can also purchase it from the Shea Moisture website.  It's definitely worth a click here to check out the fun ingredients (like acai berry, apple cider vinegar, apricot, lavender, etc…) they use in their large variety of products! 

Next I plan to sample their African Black Soap Body Wash.   Stay tuned…!

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Are you ARMED with the Right Deodorant?

According to the American Cancer Society, there are no strong studies in medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use; however, it's definitely a concern, especially among the breast cancer community.  

Before I continue sniffing into this topic, let me explain difference between antiperspirant and deodorant.  Antiperspirant keeps you from sweating while deodorant cut down on what makes you smell when you do sweat.  

Why is this a concern?  Antiperspirants do their job clogging and blocking your sweat pores with aluminum salts.  Some research suggests that when aluminum is absorbed by the skin, it can cause changes to estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer.

Finding the right Deodorant/Antiperspirant has been quite the challenge for me.  I've tested many and some worked initially, but later became what I thought was a stinky purchase.    

I finally stumbled on a brand called UNDERARMED on Amazon.  It had a close to 5 star rating and reviews seemed far from unauthentic.  After researching, I found that UNDERARMED was created by small family business (started by Sean McLellan).  They hand make each stick and took over two years and over 200 attempts to formulate the perfect product!  Ingredients are limited (that's usually a good sign) and include natural stuff like organic coconut oil, beeswax, all natural aluminum free sodium bicarbonate, organic avocado butter and a few more they list in the packaging.  

How did they get it right?  Sean isn't a scholarly chemist nor did he go to the Harvard of Deodorant School.  He simply did this by asking all his purchasers to send him feedback after using.  As a gift for the information, he provides a trial size deodorant for $1 (the small payment is to help with the cost of shipping).  Today, after all his trial and error, he says it's finally perfect!  And so far, I think it is too.    

 

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Chia- The Super Seed!

Chia seeds may have been around since the Aztec, but it hasn’t been until recently that it’s gained popularity.

Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico.

These seeds are also my quick, simple way of adding a whole lot of nutrition to my diet.  Known as one of the healthiest foods on the planet, this low calorie power house contains fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, omega 3’s and antioxidants. My favorite brand is Spectrum Organics.

I add to my daily smoothie and oatmeal. You can also add to yogurt, salads and meals.  My nutritionist, Maryann Jones of Thrive Naturally makes a yummy Chia seed pudding for breakfast.  Here’s the recipe.  Best part- They are tasteless so they won’t alter your meal!

 

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