I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Foods that Help You lose Weight!

HERE are 12 Foods that Help You lose Weight!

1. Spicy Red Peppers
The spicy red peppers can kick-start your metabolism because of a special chemical, called Capsaicin. You can add red pepper in its ground form to soups; it also comes in a red chili paste, used by many Asian recipes; marinades and sauces or cook with it in its raw form.
What is capsaicin?
Medical information about Capsaicin from Healthwise: "Capsaicin is the ingredient found in different types of hot peppers, such as cayenne peppers, that makes the peppers spicy hot. You can eat it in raw or cooked peppers or as a dried powder, which you can add to food or drinks. It also is available as a dietary supplement and in topical creams that you apply to your skin."
What is capsaicin used for?
When a capsaicin cream or ointment is used on the skin (topical use), capsaicin helps relieve pain. Capsaicin works by first stimulating and then decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body. Although pain may at first increase, it usually decreases after the first use. Capsaicin stimulates the release of a compound believed to be involved in communicating pain between the nerves in the spinal cord and other parts of the body.
When you apply it to the skin, capsaicin may help relieve pain.
Supplement use
When you eat hot peppers or take capsaicin as a dietary supplement, the capsaicin may improve your digestion by increasing the digestive fluids in the stomach and by fighting bacteria that could cause an infection. It may also help fight diarrhea caused by bacterial infection.
Capsaicin may help prevent heart disease. It may stimulate the cardiovascular system and may lower blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also helps prevent clotting and hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis ).
Capsaicin acts as an antioxidant , protecting the cells of the body from damage by harmful molecules called free radicals. Capsaicin also may help prevent bacterial infections.
Capsaicin may also make mucus thinner and help move it out of the lungs. It is also thought to strengthen lung tissues and help to prevent or treat emphysema.
Is capsaicin safe?
Experts in the United States generally consider capsaicin to be safe. But it can cause some unpleasant effects, especially for those who are not used to it. Be careful when you cook with or eat hot peppers. Begin with small amounts, and increase the amount as you get used to it.
An allergic reaction to capsaicin is possible. If you are just beginning to use capsaicin, either as fresh or prepared food or in powder form, start with small amounts. If you use a topical cream, you should first apply it to a small area of skin to test for an allergic reaction.
Do not take capsaicin if you have high blood pressure or are already being treated for high blood pressure.
To reduce the burning sensation, remove the seeds from the peppers before you eat or cook with them. Also, if you eat bananas along with the peppers, you may reduce the burning sensation.
Extremely high intake of capsaicin may cause ulcers , but it’s rare for anyone to consume enough for this to be a problem.
2. Kale:
High in fiber and low in calories, kale can help fill you up without filling you out. Basically, any green leafy vegetable will do the same thing. It is also a rich source of vitamins A and K, and vitamin C, boosting the body’s immune and detoxification systems. Eat kale on its own or add it to pasta, salad, soups and other main dishes.

3. Apples:

An Apple a Day does Keep the Doctor Away. ;-)
Apples are rich in antioxidants, are a fantastic source of fiber and provide natural carbohydrates (24 grams of a whole fruit does not remotely compare to what "24 grams of a manmade simple carbohydrate like white bread" does to your blood sugar and weight maintenance). Natural carbohydrates keep you sustained between meals. Eating them raw with their skin is the most nutritious way to consume apples, but they also work well in recipes for salads and desserts.

4. Green Tea:

Clinical studies, (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm and http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Green-tea-catechins-linked-to-weight-loss-Study, to name two) have shown that green tea consumption may aid in weight loss. These rudimentary studies suggest that the antioxidant, catechins, that is in green tea can help the body burn fat.  Green tea comes in several varieties (http://www.itoen.co.jp/eng/allabout_greentea/varieties/index.html). Originating in China, this herb drink is a staple beverage in many Asian countries.

 5. Avocados:

A funny story, when I was in my twenties, I thought I discovered the most amazing tasty vegetable to aid my diet of salads and canned tuna every day. Lol, yes, I’d put an entire avocado on my salad, believing it was the equivalent to a carrot. While the avocado does not equal a vegetable in calories, or in having zero fat; it is a fruit that is an excellent weight loss choice. Just not for the same reasoning as I thought in my youth. Avocados are a wonderful source of monosaturated fats (often referred to by the affectionate nickname, MUFA, pronounced Moo-Fah), which have been named for decreasing in belly fat.
The good news is monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs for short, have been scientifically shown to effect how the body handles fat. In 2007a study published in the journal Diabetic Care, Dr. Paniagua and his team concluded that a diet rich in MUFAs prevented central fat distribution. This goes along with the claims of the Flat Belly Diet that MUFAs prevent belly fat in particular and changes the thinking that there is no way to "spot reduce" on a diet and exercise program.
The relationship between MUFAS and Fat Burning were shown in a later study conducted by Walker and O'Dea in 2007, in response to Paniagua, confirmed his findings and went on to show that subjects started burning fat after eating a MUFA-rich meal that the fat burning continued. Subjects also not only lost significant belly fat, but also lost fat in their limbs as well while consuming 40 percent of their total calories from fat. That is 5 to 15 percent more than the current recommended daily amount.
The problem with starvation or fad diets lies in the body burning lean tissue, saving its fat for survival because the body thinks food it not coming and the body will prevent death by saving it's fat for later; instead choosing to burn lean muscle. The relationship between MUFAS and Lean Body Mass is becoming more interesting as studies are being done. Not only do MUFAs burn fat, but they were shown to preserve lean body mass during weight loss in a 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition. By preserving lean tissue, MUFAs decrease your body fat percentage and the health risks associated with a high percentage. Most weight loss diets alone cause a loss of both fat and lean muscle tissue, so this is a boon to those dieters who are not able to keep lean mass through an exercise program.
Remembering to keep it real. With all that said, MUFAs are not "magic." They are still a fat, and you need to eat them as part of a moderate-fat diet. To lose significant weight, you still need to combine MUFAs with a reduced-calorie diet. To gain the most benefit from MUFAs, use them to replace saturated fats, like those found in meats, full-fat dairy, butter and lard. Weight loss goals need to be realistic and reasonable for best results, but MUFAs can play an important role in helping you meet them.
This creamy green fruit provides the nutrition needed to keep you feeling satiated when faced with the temptation of junk food. This healthy fat ended up being a good thing on my spinach salads, after all. ;-D
6. Lentils:
Lentils are rich in protein and soluble fiber which is an important combination in combating high blood sugar and preventing the body from creating unwanted fat. Lentils come in many varieties and colors and are a common ingredient in soups and curries.

7. Blueberries:

Blueberries are high in phytonutrients, meaning they are full of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese and fiber, all of which have been linked with weight loss. Blueberries also provide a sweet substitute for refined sugars and calorie laden desserts.

8. Cinnamon:
Research is suggesting (http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/cinnamon.htm and http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68) that cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar and help the body burn fat. Cinnamon is also high in iron and manganese, both of which are important parts of a balanced diet. Sprinkling cinnamon on sliced apples, oatmeal and wholegrain toast is a natural, sugar-free way of enhancing flavor.  

8. Quinoa:
I know I have been talking about quinoa a lot in my diet postings, but for good reason. The ancient Inca civilization thought of their quinoa crops as sacred, referring to quinoa as “the mother of all grains.” Centuries later, this grain continues to be praised for its nutritious value.
Very rich in protein (8gms) and fiber (5gms) quinoa is an ideal way of satiating hunger without loading up on calories. It stands to reason, if you are full or satisfied, you will not be tempted by the candy bars in the vending machines. Complex carbohydrates, like this one, take longer to digest, leaving you satisfied for a longer period of time. Simple carbohydrates that are found in foods like white floured products (example: white bread) burn quickly, leaving you with a sharp blood sugar drop, triggering hunger, irritability or the “shakes.”
9. Salmon:
The oils found in fish such as salmon (better known as the Omega 3 fatty acid King) have been linked to several health benefits, including weight loss. Replacing beef and pork with salmon as the main component of a meal is a low-fat  protein (packing a whopping 13 gms of protein) solution.
Simply put into words of finding life-style solutions: if you can serve fish two to three times a week, instead of the more fatty red meats, your body will live longer. 
10. Almonds:
Almonds prove that good things really do come in small packages. These bite-sized nuts pack a punch of protein that helps curb hunger between meals. Raw, unsalted almonds are a healthy snack on their own or make a delicious, crunchy garnish for main courses and salads. Compared to the fattier alternative, peanuts; almond butter is more rich in vitamin E, iron, calcium and it has less fat (much less saturated fat, and unlike peanut butter, no trans fats).  

11. Oats:
Contrary to many fad diets, carbohydrates, in moderation, are not to be feared. Oats are an ideal source of complex carbohydrates, which sustain the body and provide the nutritious balance needed for weight loss. Compared with simple carbohydrates, oats slowly release energy into the body and have positive, not a negative impact on the body’s blood sugar.

12. Vinegar:
Recent Research shows that the main chemical, acetic acid in vinegar may help control your blood sugar, and thus aid in weight loss. Vinegar (especially Balsamic Vinegar) also makes a tangy substitute to creamy sauces and dressing that can be high in fat.

Give these a try and start to feel better and lose weight, the healthy way!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I have had compliments from readers on my "homemaking skills;" however, that is not what it takes to make a great mom. The imperfect mother story:

Why an Imperfect Mother is Really the Most Perfect Kind of All
This was composed on May 4, 2011By Megan Bello; I think it is just the perfect story to post on Mother's Day for anyone feeling not so "homemaker endowed." 

In 1985 we banned my mother from making meatloaf. To be honest, I think she was relieved. I doubt she enjoyed making it any more than my father, brother, sister or I enjoyed eating it. My mom, Sheila, subscribes to the 1:2 ratio when it comes to eating bread with butter and grew up believing butterball turkeys and store-bought bundt cakes to be “homemade” dishes.
What she lacked in culinary skills, however, she more than made up for in creativity. And despite the occasional overcooked frozen vegetable mishaps, we grew to love the enthusiastic improvisation Mom brought to the table. She somehow managed to make every meal special, regardless of the bag, box or fast food restaurant from which it hailed. I still drift off into reverie over our cool taco assembly line dinners, Friday pizza nights and the Tupperware-microwave parties — aka leftovers night. Flaws and all, she put the fun in dysfunction.

Case in point: One Tuesday night a few years back, my brother — who inexplicably still likes mashed potato flakes from a cardboard box— requested his ol' favorite. Sheila obliged. As the bowl was placed upon the table, we noticed it to be a little off. (Well, even more off than one could normally expect from potatoes made from powder.) The flakes had congealed into a gummy glob. My dad quizzically plopped a pile onto his plate. Then my brother got his hands on it, literally. He dug his paws into the potatoes as if needing dough and gauging the consistency to be that of the perfect snowball-making snow, he swiftly rolled his faux-spuds into an edible (er, inedible) ball. And then he threw it at me.

I actually caught it, looked to Dad to sense the temperature in the room … and there was my athletic father ready to catch. I chucked him the monster mash; he cradled it like a football and then gazed up at his wife, smiled his big warm grin and tossed the ball of food Mom had just “slaved” over right into her hands. And true to form, all she could do was laugh (and toss a highball to my sister). Game on! When Mom gives you mashed potato flakes, make a ballgame out of it. Then promptly order up some pizza.

Sheila's cooking did gradually evolve over the years, thanks to our aunt Kath (one of the best cooks in the entire world), who took Sheila under her wing and molded her into her sous chef (of sorts). She even managed to master a few signature dishes, from tuna noodle casserole to baked ziti. By the time we were adults, Sheila had started a tradition of making our favorite meals on our birthdays. And like a fine wine, these dinners have gotten better with age. So for Mom's 50th birthday, we decided to return the favor.
Keep in mind that Sheila's original habits had settled into a permanent spot in our subconscious. To this day, thanks to olfactory sense memory, we love the smell of boiling hot dogs (a childhood staple) and when my sister and I are together making mac 'n cheese from a box or PB&J out of the jars, we ironically tilt our heads with a wink and a smile and declare, “just like Mom used to make.”
Nevertheless, we decided to set the bar high for Sheila's 50th. The menu was set: tequila-lime marinated chicken with mango salsa chutney. Wine, check. Bread, check. Chicken breast? Well, we'd bought chicken tenders rather than breasts, but they were close enough. We doused the teeny pieces of chicken in not one but two bottles of marinade for five hours. Then we made the chutney from memory, because in delusions of grandeur we were convinced we were THAT good. Two hours later, my godfather was drunk and the grandparents were pacing. Dinner was finally served! As the plate hit the table, my dad innocently asked, “What fish is this?”
The tiny chicken strips had soaked up the tequila lime sauce like their lives depended on it. The meat was dead on arrival.
“No honey, you don't want that," my Nana said as she slapped down my Pop-Pop's hand as he unwittingly reached for more of the chutney, a nauseating confusion of potent garlic and angry fruit. Break out the wine, STAT.
While we were processing the surreal realization that this dinner was inedible, my resourceful little bro snuck away from the table and nuked a bag of rice. He returned with a fork in one hand and the bag in the other, walked around the table and scooped a pile onto everyone's plate. No one spoke. We just ate the grains as if they were filet mignon. Sheila's legacy had simultaneously created a monstrosity and saved her own birthday. Rice-in-a-bag: just like Mom used to make.
Those years without the Holly Homemaker home-cooked meals actually turned out to be family-bonding dinners. I'm now a firm believer that family meals should be a joyful expression of love, no matter what's on the table. They're opportunities to reconnect, appreciate everyone's personalities and simply remember why we like being together. In our home, we never had to endure the cold and stoic dining room propriety or learn to appreciate sushi at an age when it's probably not all that good for a kid. Don't get me wrong, we learned our manners and could dine with adults at a fancy restaurant if the occasion called for it, but we were partial to down-home fun.
I wouldn't trade our crazy meals for the world, as they gave way to unplanned and unforgettable splendor. We grew up with a role model who didn't take herself too seriously, always did her best but had the wits to laugh at her goof-ups and celebrate her imperfections. It's a relief to be able to laugh at yourself and make the most of it. We now take pride in turning our faux pas into funny anecdotes that always make for a great story.

Sheila may have been sparse on culinary expertise, but her spunk made up for it. Like many parents, she found other ways to express her love. She took us to museums and nature centers on weekends, built science projects with us, gave us the freedom to express ourselves when we picked out our own outfits, let us get dirty in the backyard on our exploration missions and shared all of her super-cool vintage clothes that she'd saved for us in our special "dress up box."

At a time when competitive parenting is at an all-time high, interviewing for pre-school, the challenges of fitting into a new school system or the inevitable stink eye shot between the stay-at-home moms and the working ones, how do the Sheilas of the world measure up? At the end of the day, what really matters? How do you compete with the mothers who diligently keep their families perfectly coiffed, poised and fed five-course meals on good china every night?
I'm no expert, but I'd say as long as your kids are smiling, laughing and learning about life and how to make the most of any situation, it really doesn't matter what your pot roast looks like or if Johnnie went to school with two different shoes on. What it boils down to is love and cherishing the time, however much you have, together.

To this day, tidy packages scare me. I prefer the creative-looking family unit, where it's obvious love abides, but sometimes there's just not enough time in the day to brush hair or turn on the oven. Mistakes are often blessings in disguise and a great opportunity to see imperfect people perfectly. After all, isn't that what love is?

My perfectly imperfect mom wrote the recipe on family bonding with her contagious laughter, undeniable sense of humor and innate way of seeing the (wine) glass half full, and she's passed it on to her kin. I endeavor to pass it on to my kids one day. It's the gift that keeps on giving and feeds more than our bellies, but also our spirits and our souls.