Monthly Archives: March 2013

Fantastic Friday: Best Moment Award!

Best Moment Award

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

I won an award! For those of you who don’t know, there are tons of different types of awards floating around the blogosphere. I always secretly wished that I would receive one and voile! The Moment Matters award is given by fellow readers. Thanks to 1DigitalFingerPrint for giving me this one; it is such a huge compliment 🙂

This is a great test for me. I never knew how these awards were given and, to be honest, I was a little sad when I realized that there are probably thousands of bloggers (maybe even tens of thousands) of bloggers who have received this one. But then it dawned on me, who cares??

I am so stoked that a person I very much respect thought me worthy of recognition. Have I come to that point? I guess so. This website has become an arena of self-expression for me. It’s my soap box to shout from when no one in the real world wanted to listen to my babble. Alas, I have found a community of friends and strangers that find value in my thoughts and research.

Writing to you all keeps me on the right track. Your comments keep me motivated. Thanks everyone! And HAPPY EASTER! 🙂

THE WINNERS OF THE BEST MOMENT AWARD ARE:

      Gratitude Journal

Ruth is on day 435. She writes 3 things she’s thankful for EVERY day. She is a huge inspiration to lead a thankful life.
Once A Month For Ladies
This group of women is not afraid to tell it like it is. They explore the deepest depths of being a woman and then put it online so it’s fun for everyone! What’s not to like?
My French Heaven
This chef posts some of the most delicious and indulgent recipes. But what I love most it how he ties it in with his passion for life. Just slow down and cook for a bit 🙂
Jennova Food Blog
This is a blog centered around food science. The author is extremely detailed in her posts but also helps me understand exactly how my body processes certain things. Her posts are a manageable length and I get absolutely wrapped up in them.
Inspire and Indulge
Sometimes I feel that Leah and I are kindred spirits. Her blog documents her adventures in health and life as a young adult. She’s full of spirit and, it seems, always looking on the bright side of life. Her posts inspire me to keep on the right track to health and happiness.

RULES:

  • Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded.
  • Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awardees! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.

RESOURCES:

What makes a good acceptance speech?
  • Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way
  • Humor. Keep us entertained and smiling
  • Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives
Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech
Display the award’s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award

Don’t forget to celebrate with your followers! Tweet your success with hashtag #MomentMatters. Congratulations, winners!

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Thriving Thursday: What’s in Your Microwave?

I’m not sure when or how the thought entered my head. I don’t know if my super health conscience Momma put it there or if it was the stirrings of the health community in general, but it’s time to make a change. A big one. I’m going to throw away our microwave. *GASP!*

Microwave

I did a lot of research for this post. I checked out articles from Harvard Med, GreenMed, New York Times, and Dr. Mercola, among others. People are divided. These very smart, highly informed sets of people can’t agree: are microwaves bad for you or not?

This is how it is now, though. Our current system doesn’t work. People are sick and more people are dying prematurely than ever before. I don’t believe we can implicitly trust the medical model for anything other than emergency care, but then who can we trust? How the heck do you figure out who’s right?

I know this sounds a little wonky but I tend to trust my instinct. If you put your face too close to a microwave, you will absorb small amounts of radiation, this is known. But your food is in there! Your food is being heated up in that box full of radiation. Then you’re gonna eat it! Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? However, I know most people don’t make their judgements based on my own personal judgement so here are the facts as well as I can decipher them (with a few opinions thrown in):

How it Works:

Microwave ovens heat food with oscillating electromagnetic waves. The waves energize the water molecules in your food. The polarized water molecules bounce off each other causing friction. That friction heats up the food. Microwaved water heats much more quickly than conventional methods resulting in shorter cooking times.

This form of cooking heats the food from the inside out. But wait a minute. I mean from the inside of the molecules on the outside of the food. It break and reforms the water molecules on the outside of the food in the heating process. Sometimes the distribution of water molecules is uneven which is why you sometimes get microwaved “hot spots.” Conventional cooking heats differently, from the outside of the molecules in.

Part of the opposition’s argument is that less heating time means higher nutrition retention. In general, I agree, but it’s not the length of the heating with microwave ovens, it’s the type of heating that’s the problem. If these electromagnetic waves can reach the interior of the food molecules, what else are they changing other than just the energy of the water?

Radiation:

When I was little I LOVED to stare into the microwave and watch the food spin around in circles, ever so slowly. Every time an adult caught me they slapped my hand and told me to back away, this crazy stuff called radiation leaked from that thing and you didn’t want it getting into your brain!

Since they were invented, the FDA and other regulatory organizations have closely monitored the manufacturing of microwave ovens. There have been major improvements in the level of radiation emitted from the ovens. This is good. However, radiation doesn’t die, it accumulates. So depending on how frequently you use your oven and how old it is, your kitchen is very likely full of microwave radiation. This is bad. Also, the adults were right, the radiation increases exponentially as you move closer to the source and it’s more easily absorbed by your eyes. Don’t sit and watch that plate spin!

Also, a recent study by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University tested the effects of certain frequencies of radiation on the heart. She concluded that 2.4 GHz of radiation (which is emitted by microwave ovens AND wi-fi routers) changes the heart rate and heart rate variability. Scary.

Nutrients:

As mentioned before, my common sense tells me that if microwaves can break apart and alter water molecules, what are they doing to the very delicate nutrients and minerals in our food? It is now well known that our food has lost a significant percentage of nutrients compared to food produced in the early 20th century. Crappy soil, terrible manufacturing methods, and tons of pesticides definitely play a part in this decline, but how big a role do microwaves play?

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating killed 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk .
  • A recent Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria.

While many of these studies were done using older microwaves, the evidence is clear. Microwave ovens ARE NOT a healthy way to heat your food. If you want to retain the precious nutrients still left in modern produce, eat it raw or heat it from the outside in.

* Word to the wise: If you continue to use your microwave, NEVER heat anything in a plastic container. It is undisputed that the toxic chemicals from the plastic heat and leach into your food not only killing nutrients but filling you up with lots of really terrible chemicals.

GAH! What do I do with all this information? I’m just going to cite Dr. Mercola on this one:

“Am I asking you to toss your microwave oven into the nearest dumpster? Not necessarily. It can be a useful tool for cleaning. But if real estate in your kitchen is at a premium, it should probably be the first thing to go.

You really CAN survive sans microwave—people are living quite happily without one, believe it or not. You just have to make a few small lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Plan ahead. Take your dinner out of the freezer that morning or the night before so you don’t end up having to scramble to defrost a 5-pound chunk of beef two hours before dinnertime.
  • Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or other containers. An hour before meal time, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water until it’s thawed enough to slip into a pot, then reheat it on the stove.
  • A toaster oven makes a GREAT faux-microwave for heating up leftovers! Keep it at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — and gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes. Another great alternative is a convection oven. They can be built in or purchased as a relatively inexpensive and quick safe way to heat foods
  • Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.
  • Try eating more organic raw foods. This is the best way to and improve your health over the long run.”

I hope you’re all having fantastic days! Just let me know if you have any questions. Love and hugs – Ash

Sources (articles):
Why Did the Russians Ban An Appliance Found in 90% of American Homes? – Mercola.com
Studies Show Microwaves Drastically Reduce Nutrients in Food – GreenMedInfo.com
The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients In Food – New York Times
Do Microwave Ovens Destroy Nutrients? – Livestrong.com
Microwave Cooking and Nutrition – Harvard Medical School

Sources (studies):
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”
Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B 1999:49(2):110-117
Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S
Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Abe K, Tamura Y, and Nakano Y. J. Agric. Food Chem. Feb 26 1998;46(4):1433-1436
George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. “Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding,”
Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,” Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669

Workout Wednesday: When NOT to workout

I’m still sick. On day 4 of this wicked flu. I have some awesome coworkers that covered the work I had to do in the office, thank goodness, but there’s no one else who can teach my workout class.

So I taught it in sweats with very little voice. I was much nicer than I normally am but they better not get used to it! I didn’t join them for the workout because my body is already trying so hard to recover that it really doesn’t need any extra strain. For an idea of when NOT to workout, check out this post by a great blog I read: The Guide to Knowing When to Workout or Not While Sick.

Anyway, I figured that I’ve posted enough of a variation of workouts that I could repeat a few every now and then. So this workout is the same as the post on February 13. It was a good one and every person in that room left sweating! I hope you enjoy.

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

Side Hops

1. side hop (jump fast and high)

GoodMornings

2. good mornings (with or without weights)

LegLift

3. leg lower (lose the ball on this one)

Swimmers

4. swimmers (looks funny but man does it work your core)

DiamondPushup

5. diamond pushup (do this on your feet, knees, or standing against a wall)

SitAndPray

6. sit & pray (get low and put your weight in your heels)

Enjoy your day! Lots of love – Ash

 

Tasty Tuesday: Honey Yogurt Dip

We had some people over on Saturday. A melting pot of people from all the different areas of our life. We ladies had some fun with makeup (more on that Friday) while the guys watched basketball. Then we all went line dancing! I’m getting pretty good at it by now.

So for the get together at our place, I decided that I would cook appetizers. I settled on 4 relatively simple recipes. When people started arriving and I was only half done cooking, I realized I may have been a bit ambitious. BUT, I did discover this amazing recipe. It took a total of 3 minutes and was one of the tastiest things on the table.

YogurtHoneyDip-Published

Honey Yogurt Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (organic and/or goat is better, raw is best)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (local is best)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • Any fruit that’s in season

Instructions:

  1. Cut up your fruit into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together and serve!

Also, it snowed here again! About 5 inches in 24 hours. I had the day off and managed to catch the flu so it was the perfect weather to snuggle up on the couch, watch marathon TV, and drink pots of tea. But just to prove how amazing the Midwest is, a random, kindly citizen cleaned off my car! There is no way for me to know who did it so they just did it from the kindness of their heart. Peoria really isn’t so bad 🙂

Snowed In

 

I hope you’re having a happy day. Love and hugs – Ash

Mindful Monday: Gratitude

What is a “thankful mind?”  Why are there books and blogs and entire websites dedicated to thankfulness? Why do all the happiness experts tell us that having a thankful mind is one of the keys to overall wellbeing? You will never know until you try it. Trust me, it changes the way you think.

Since starting this blog, I’ve found other bloggers who write entirely about why they’re thankful. While I won’t go that far (I have WAY too many other things to say) it can be a great mental exercise to follow their lead.

So I know it’s Monday, and the working world has started turning again, but how about you just take a second to reflect on why you’re thankful?

There are two quick posts from other bloggers that may get your juices flowing.
Day 431 – Ruth Rainwater and Year of Kindness Challenge: Week 12 – Dallas Woodburn

The three things I’m thankful for today:
1. The internet and Skype. Yesterday I got to talk to a friend in China AND North Carolina. It was almost like they were sitting right next to me. I love technology.
2. A fully stocked kitchen. I spent yesterday morning and afternoon cooking up all kinds of deliciousness. I haven’t always had my own happy, clean, fully stocked kitchen in which to experiment, and I love it!
3. My Gran. She is one of the most understanding and respectful women I know. When I miss our weekly phone calls, I feel just a little more anxious and unsettled. Just the sound of her voice peps me up and calms me down at the same time.

What are your three things today? 🙂

 

Friendly Friday: How Much Is Too Much?

It’s an odd question to ponder. Especially when it comes to something that makes someone feel so good. Do people get spoiled? Do they start to take it for granted? Can you ever show someone too much love?

One of the goals of my Happiness Project is to set up a day each week to talk to each of my siblings. It’s a joint effort and we’ve all succeeded. Makenna is on Tuesday, Cam is on Wednesday, and Nikki is on Thursday. It’s wonderful to hear about their lives more frequently and I’m really excited for it to become a regular thing.

I am the oldest of four. I’ve been a third parent to my siblings from the time I could reach the kitchen counter. There must have been some natural motherly tendencies there already but ay caramba, being an oldest sister really brought it out of me. Our childhood groomed me to nurture and care for people and generally just give them a lot of love.

But is there ever too much love? I tell my friends and family, multiple times in a conversation, that I love them and miss them. Because I do! I never want the special people in my life to question it. Do you think they ever just stop listening? Shrug off or tune out the doting words I throw their way. Not because they don’t appreciate it but because I say it (and try to show it) as often as possible?

I think that people act the way they want to be treated. Maybe I feel the need to express my love because it’s awesome when I get it back. I don’t know. What I do know is that it feels great to have so many people who are worthy of my energy. What a lucky lady I am 🙂

 

Thriving Thursday: Grocery Shopping Guide

In talking to people all over my community, I’ve discovered that very few of them know how to grocery shop. We have SO many options. When you’re trying to get healthy, what’s the right brand of healthy to buy? This is a simple beginner’s guide to healthy grocery shopping.

So here is a set of rules to help you navigate more quickly through the maze of choices.

photo 10

1. Always start with the whole foods. Start in the produce section and let yourself salivate over the deep orange bell peppers or in-season strawberries. If your store has them, move on to the bulk seeds and nuts. Then peruse the other sections, skipping processed foods whenever possible.  Focus your efforts where you can find the most nutrients: in whole foods!

SalsaNutritionPanel

2. Check the INGREDIENTS not the nutrition panel. Only buy processed food that you can’t find in a whole food form. We have been trained to look at the nutrition panel on all packaged foods. How many calories, how much fat, and sodium, etc. But new research and my personal observation shows that it’s the ingredients that matter, not the nutritional breakdown. The fewer ingredients the better and make sure you can recognize the name of everything in the processed food you’re eating.

photo 7

3. Avoid sugar like the plague. When you start looking at ingredients in processed food, you’ll notice that sugar is added to EVERYTHING. Check out this post for why sugar is bad. Aside from the obvious “sugar,” Anything ending in “-ose” is sugar including sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Any “gum” is considered sugar including lecithin gum and xanthan gum. And any kind of “syrup” is sugar including brown rice sugar. And finally, ASPARTAME IS EVIL. It’s a neurotoxin. Check the post mentioned above for more info.

photo 2

4. NEVER buy “low-fat” or “reduced fat” or “1%” fat or any product from which they’ve removed the fat. This includes milk. Buy whole milk! when manufacturers remove the fat, the concentration of sugar in the substance is even higher. They even add sugar sometimes (!) because the product tastes so bad without its natural fat. Seriously. So it has higher sugar content but a lot of those fats are actually very good for you. They are necessary for your bodies proper function. So just keep the fat in!

There are only a few guiding principles to the beginner’s healthy shopping but man they are whoppers. Budget double the time it normally takes you to shop, at least until you can find the brands you like. Once you’re adjusted you’ll zoom through the grocery store once again!

I hope you’re all having fantabulous days. Love and a big smile 🙂 – Ash