Health for the Busy Bee

A close friend proposed a blog idea recently and I have been meaning to get around to it. In the nature of being busy I put it off to ensure I had enough time to sit down and really research the best answers, and today is the day.

So this friend is in nursing school. As a student she is slowly being integrated into the hospital environment, and is already wary of the stress and long hours that accompany her future profession.  Being that nursing means immersion into an environment of health care ~ she is conscious of a need to maintain her own health, despite logistical challenges (and the fact that she is the most energetic person I’ve ever known).  Unhealthy health care professionals puts more strain on an already taxed system for helping sick people – so I was excited to brainstorm and share some ideas. What to enjoy, what to avoid and how to prepare?

Eating well within a processed world is difficult, no question. For this reason planning is always the first priority. If you don’t plan ahead, you will always be stuck in bad habits~ like chips, energy drinks and bottomless coffees. Such solutions seem easy at the time, but lead to very hard days and very burnt out individuals.

Planning

  • shop with snacks in mind (nuts, fruit, Larabar)
  • daily whole food supplement (such as Vega)
  • prep meals for the whole week (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)
  • green juice & smoothies
  • pack extra food or snacks for the work day
  • water bottle

In this case, organization will be the key to sticking with health foods and maintaining that energy on long shifts. With that said, also forgive yourself when your planning ahead doesn’t pan out (especially at the start) ~ and give yourself credit for small successes. I have definitely had success some weeks and failure others, and I don’t find that putting myself down gets me any closer to creating sustainable healthy habits. So celebrate the days that work, and take notes on the days of struggle ~ then you will become aware of what needs to change.

So what meals to make you might ask??

Find a breakfast plan that works for you. Something easy on the digestive system, but also filling. I LOVE avocado on Silver Hills squirrelly bread with a pinch of sea salt. In addition to a piece of toast, I enjoy oatmeal or quinoa or chia seeds with berries/nuts/mango and almond milk. Alkaline sisters have three great breaky recipes to take a look at ~ Chia Breakfast, Millet & Raisin Breakfast, Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast. All are easy to prepare. I usually toss the quinoa or oatmeal on the stove to simmer while in the shower, then its just a matter of adding all the toppings! Of course you could always throw it in a container and eat on the go should you have to leave for work… and who said healthy breakfasts just aren’t the same as those greasy ones? yum.

And for Lunch…

I think lunch is the perfect time to have a salad. Not any ordinary boring salad – something fun. This week I made a few different ones to mix it up, with ingredients like quinoa, beans, chick peas, avocado, carrots, celery, kale, parsley, cabbage & tomatoes. Instead of preparing them in the morning or the night before, I just made LOTS and kept it in the fridge. Here are three recipe ideas for lunch time salad. Obviously there is room for your own creativity – add or subtract whatever you like. And when it comes to avocado/dressings I like to add those just before eating – to avoid soggy salad.

Lunch Box Quinoa & Beans

  • Quinoa
  • Organic Kidney Beans
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • Local Sprouts
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Balsamic/Dijon Dressing

*Ration is up to you – trial and error works best for me, you can always add more!

Lynda’s Sweet Creation

  • Organic Spinach
  • Papaya (Autafolo Mango would be good too!)
  • Cashews
  • Avocado
  • Organic Romaine or Red
  • Balsamic or other dressing

*Other nuts would compliment well too. The fruit really spices up the salad.

Roasted Sesame Winter Slaw (My New Roots)

  • Purple and Green Cabbage
  • Kale (finely sliced)
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Mint
  • Lemon
  • Orange Zest
  • Tahini
  • Roasted Sesame Seeds
  • Chick Peas

*Click the link for full recipe and dressing. Could also add avocado for creamier texture. Recipe adapted from My New Roots.

For dinner meals I would suggest mixing it up to avoid getting bored of your meals. Roasted veggies including parsnips, yams and broccoli are easy to prepare ahead of time – and very nutritious. These foods will leave you satisfied and when heated give you that comfort food we tend to look for around the dinner hour. Rice pasta or brown rice is also a good option for a hearty dinner meal to keep you going at work, or to help you recover after a long day.

What else to think about?? How about exercise and hydration. If you are working long shifts it is likely difficult to incorporate fitness – but at minimum keep track of how much you’re walking (and maybe start walking or cycling to and from work). Also drink water… especially if you are a coffee drinker, because the caffeine will dehydrate you throughout the day.  Your energy is dependent on activity, good nutrition, frequent nutrition and ongoing hydration.

Plan whole food meals, drink H2O, take supplements/shakes/juice, get active, schedule in sleep, and reach for healthy snacks in order to make the best of your very long and often stressful work days. Really pay attention to your energy levels and more generally how you are feeling – so that it becomes easier to determine what works best for you. When you feel exhausted there is a reason… listen to that body and reach for healthy tools. I find that when I am adequately prepared it becomes easier to tackle each task, navigate the stress and get things accomplished.

Be a conscious busy bee – your physical and mental health depend on you.

I hope these tips can be of some help. Thanks to Keish for the idea. – And keep em coming! I always love a little inspiration.

to your health and happiness,

~B

Finding Focus in Food

Morning fellow foodies,

Can you believe its the middle of March? I know everyone says this – but its true, how is it that time evaporates so quickly with the onset of Spring?! Now if only the weather would catch up! Its cold here in Vic (but the cherry blossoms are out).

I have been privileged with a few weeks away from the office, because schools are closed for Spring Break. As much as I love the freedom of working from a local cafe – this is both a blessing and a curse. I find myself digging deep for motivation to get things accomplished. Without diligent structure to the day it has become more challenging to work for a set amount of hours. As a result I have had some really long work days to make up for others that were cut short.

This is my second week at the home office and I have researched some nutrition related tools to help stay focused. These can also be used by students – as we all know how difficult it is to focus in the library with the ease of procrastination by your side. Cannot even guesstimate how hours I spent just staring at my computer on the third floor lib – or worse scanning through facebook to distract from the deadlines!

So there’s more to staying focused than just food – to start sleep is probably your most important asset. Not sure about you, but my productivity when tired is severely depleted.

On the food front – try the following:

  • cocoa – in small doses, the cocoa in 70%+ dark chocolate can enhance task oriented focus. Of course it is best to find sugar-free! Most of this research has been done in relation to treating symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Take a look at a related article here.
  • blueberries – not only a great antioxidant, these berries also contains flavonoids that open up blood vessels leading to increased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, while simultaneously reducing blood pressure. More blood/oxygen to the brain means improved concentration! Check out article from The Telegraph here.
  • flax seeds – containing an abundance of Omega-3, this superfood helps improve brain functioning. This resource is being linked not only to increased concentration but also maintaining a good memory. More info here.
  • peppermint tea  – true mint is good for bringing calm to the body – and this allows for greater ease in completing whatever tasks are at hand. It is a great caffeine free alternative when you are looking for something to sip on while working away.

As you may have noticed, the mind/body connection is very intriguing to me – mostly because I spent years failing to connect nutrition with my mental or emotional state.  I think as a society we have spent a great deal of energy associating food/diet with our physical being, doing a disservice to our brains.  Whenever I feel the onset of anxiety, stress or emotional ups and downs – it is always helpful to reflect on the foods or beverages I am consuming and see if there is room for change. Like this morning when I had a cup of earl grey instead of peppermint – the caffeine had me wired for an hour, followed by some angst… the lesson is to take my own advice and avoid that one tomorrow!

Of course for all of the above to work well, a green diet is also necessary ~ frequent whole food snacks will give you the energy to carry the workload.

It is always rewarding to get things accomplished ~ because it bends your life in different ways making room for opportunity. I hope these superfoods can be of some use to you! I am thinking a smoothie to include blueberries/flax might help get me focused for another day at the desk. and of course I will keep a small bar of dark chocolate for emergencies.

Check out this trailer for another foodie movie! I just love these – such a documentary nerd. Excited for such films to positively influence our food choices. Free online premiere March 21st to 31st!

Enjoy!

~B

Immune Boosters!

Happy Wednesday!

Are you familiar with that moment of pause when you stop and realize your lifestyle is very busy – without intention? Too busy can mean stress, stress lowers immunity and ultimately welcomes sickness… which is something we are all trying to avoid. This has been on my mind as people at work or on the bus are coughing, sneezing and sharing their colds.

Fitness and whole foods are essential for not only fighting illness, but also providing energy to deal with life’s daily events. I am looking to pencil in more down time, but in the interim I have done some research on exercise and natural immunity boosters – that should improve the fitness routine and keep us all well!

As mentioned in previous posts, yoga and running are my work-out regimens of choice. My brother prefers boxing, my sister the local gym and my parents hike – to each their own. Of course exercise is great however you choose to incorporate it.. just get moving for 45mins+ a day, everyday. Make goals, commit and find someone to help you stick to it.

With my schedule mornings seem to be working best. Yoga or run club between 6am and 8am each weekday~ what better way to start? Still enough time to get home, shower and eat a nutritious breakfast before work.  And for the odd day when I cannot drag myself out of bed there’s always evenings.

My newest concern is maintaining that immune system in and around a fitness routine. Especially being in a room sardined full of other yogis~ knowing that my arm may have grazed someone else during warrior two, and this is not the place for sanitizer. There is research showing that high output exercise can temporarily weaken your immune system due to a brief changes in blood sugar, cortisol levels and inflammation – meaning that we are more susceptible to picking up a virus.

There are many natural resources useful for counteracting this process and boosting that immune response. Here are some I’ve paid more attention to recently:

  • Sunflower Seeds – packed with Vitamin E! – make power bars with them or add to your salad.
  • Akaline Foods – green, green, green ~ acid in your system invites viruses.
  • Garlic – helps block the enzymes that allow viruses to spread.
  • Coconut Water – perfect post work-out drink, or hangover cure!
  • Pineapple, Kiwis and Oranges – for Vitamin C!
  • Vega - natural supplement to keep vitamin and mineral levels healthy.
  • Juicing – easiest way to get green – without added sugars.
  • Water - hydrate 24/7. Add some grated ginger!
  • Sleep  – adequate rest to deal with that busy schedule.

Check out this Whole Living link for immune boosting recipes.  I also enjoy Traditional Medicinals Tea, but of course that is more of a cold recovery resource than virus prevention.

Do you have any other immune boosting ideas? Maybe recovery snacks that you enjoy post workout? Please share in comment space below.

On another note, this week I connected with Lauren a fellow blogger- owner of The Holy Kale (amazing site), and she suggested I participate in ‘fun facts blogger chain‘ that is circulating. So here it goes – a few questions and responses from me, for those readers interested. And a link to Lauren’s answers here.

1. Biggest Indulgence?
Almond milk London Fog – but not till after lent.

2. Sweet or Savory. What food specifically?
Both. Love a hearty soup, but equally love dark chocolate – (especially sea salt dark, both savory and sweet).

3. Greatest Talent?
It used to be gymnastics skills, but times have changed. I am gifted with a pretty vivid photographic memory – while working coat check I could recall type/colour of a persons jacket, sometimes after hours and hundreds of people- without intention.

4. What would your Best Day Ever look like?
East Coast: Morning tea in Brooklyn reading the NYTimes, shop away the afternoon,  green lunch at a trendy restaurant, spend early evening in central park and go for sushi before a night walk on the Brooklyn bridge with friends.
West Coast: Morning run along Dallas Rd, breakfast and tea with close friends, long drive to a rocky beach, ocean dip and return home to make a big green dinner, enjoy some vino and watch movies.

5. If you could do 1 thing everyday, what would it be?
nap. I like to feel well rested.

6. What is your Life Calling?
being a health foodie.

7. 2 Million Dollars, 3 Months Off, Where would you go and What would you do?
Short trip to Greece and Hungary, followed by two months in NYC – living large, eating well and shopping daily.

8. If you had an extra $1,000 a month (not for savings), what would you spend it on?

clothes, food and trips. I have a winners addiction, an expensive taste in health food and appreciation for leaving routine. I would splurge on organic everything and get away one weekend a month.

9. Quality that people most admire about you?
I think they might say, reliability.

10. What is your biggest Political, Social, Environmental or Religious Concern at the moment?
Individual agency. I don’t think we realize how much impact we can have by altering our daily actions.

11. 1 Thing in your life that makes you smile or feel grateful everyday?
my cozy bed.

*photo included because this was one of the best days ever.

Here’s to a few more weeks of strong immunity ~ before the weather finally warms up! Hope all of you are feeling well.

Thanks for reading,

~B

Ginger & Cinnamon Medley

All moved in. Loving the peace, quiet and convenient location~ but of course also missing the chaos that exists when living in a house of siblings. Tonight I invited the littlest one over for dinner (although not so little anymore). After reviewing a few recipes we decided to exercise some creativity and just work with what was here!

I’m in that awkward stage of moving where you reach for something and its just not there – simple things like saran wrap, dish soap and… spices (list is in progress). So after deciding on quinoa and veggies we had to work out the best way to season it. Given limited resources we mixed unlikely ingredients and managed to create something quite delicious~ now its time to share with you!

My little photographer documented the whole process~ enjoy!

Ginger Cinnamon Vegetable Medley

Yield 4 (we had left overs)

  • 1 cup of Quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • tbsp of grated ginger
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 yam
  • 2 parsnips
  • 3 stalks of kale
  • 4 brown mushrooms
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • sea salt

Method: Simultaneously…

  • bring quinoa and water to a boil, then turn down to simmer until water is evaporated and quinoa is light and fluffy (add more water if necessary). Add tbsp of finely grated ginger to the pot and stir.
  • turn oven to 350. Toss yams and parsnips in a just enough extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil to lightly cover them.  Place on baking sheet – shake cinnamon over and place in oven to bake (12-15 minutes).
  • slice mushrooms, bell peppers and celery – then toss in a small sauce pan with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  • steam kale with sea salt to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix all the ingredients together for a veggie medley with quinoa that is more than satisfying!! Yum yum yum. Compliment with a tall glass of water and a good movie. Of course you can also season to taste if there is more than cinnamon and ginger in your cupboard… but be creative cause unlikely ingredients can create a likeable dish.

I came across a new blog this week, The Holy Kale~ which I then spent hours surfing… its a wealth of information. I was connected to the site through a link posted by another foodie.  This article on the birth control pill is especially intriguing.  It can be difficult to find good holistic information on the pill, that considers both pros and cons without being too one sided~ definitely worth a quick read! I believe that whatever we decide to do with our bodies it is important to carry some consciousness.  Another good post on the site discusses the best ways to keep produce fresh – which is useful for anyone, but especially if you live alone and need those veggies to last!!

Well I think Carly and I are going to head out for a walk to settle our full tummies.

Hope your week is filled with happiness,

~B