Breakfast Casserole (Shakshuka)

You will need:

3 T Olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds*
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 small bunch kale (central rib removed) or spinach, shredded
1 tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne or crushed red pepper (optional)
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ c crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
6 eggs
Parsley / cilantro (optional)

Directions:
Heat oil in large non-stick skillet (or heat-proof casserole) on medium heat.
Add cumin, onions and garlic; saute until softened.
Add peppers; saute until softened.
Add tomatoes and spices; simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened and fragrant.
Mix in shredded greens and let them wilt in the sauce.  Time will vary depending on your taste.
Stir in crumbled feta cheese, if desired.
Make six “wells” in the sauce with a spoon or ladle, and crack an egg into each one.
Cover and cook about 8 to 10 minutes, until eggs are set.
Sprinkle with minced parsley or cilantro, if desired.

*Can substitute ground cumin; if so, add with the other spices

posted in Breakfast, Recipes, Uncategorized

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is our body’s repair time, so compromised sleep is a significant health risk.  If you are having trouble sleeping, identifying the cause is the very first step.  The mechanical factors are easier to deal with, so let’s start there.

How old is your mattress?Family sleeping

  • If it’s more than 10 years old, you are overdue for a replacement. Firm is best.
  • A mattress is a big investment! Take your pillow, take a good book, take your sleeping partner, and spend at least an hour on the possible candidates.
  • Ideally, you want a mattress that won’t force you to sleep in an ever-deepening rut. I like a traditional mattress that can be both flipped over and rotated.

How old is your pillow?

  • Regardless of type, a pillow that you sleep on nightly has a life of about 12 – 18 months. Not more.  Donate it to the local pet shelter and get a new pillow.
  • Have your sleeping partner or your friendly local chiropractor assess your pillow. The centerline of your head should stay in line with your spine.  If it’s a) pushed up too high or b) not supported (so that it is too low), you’re trying to sleep on the wrong pillow.

Is it dark?

Your primal brain needs the dark to sleep deeply. Shut down computers, phones and the TV an hour before your bedtime; the blue light they emit is highly stimulating and will keep you in an adrenaline-charged state.

How’s the temperature?

“Just right” for most people is about 65 degrees. A light blanket is helpful.

Are you hungry, thirsty, or over-stimulated?
Here are some dietary guidelines for optimal sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine after 4 pm.
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening; it will help you get to sleep, but can disrupt your non-REM sleep.
  • Avoid sugary snacks in the evening. You need stable blood sugar during your sleep time.  A small amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate (vegetable or fruit) just before bedtime can help.
  • Get the bulk of your hydration done by 6 to 8 pm. Then have a cup of herbal tea 60 – 30 minutes before bedtime to help you relax.

Are you getting enough exercise?

It helps relieve stress and gives you the “good tired” feeling that promotes restorative sleep.

Woman suffering from exhaustion fallen asleep in her reading glasses on the document she was readingSpeaking of stress… stress, loss of sleep, poor nutrition and inactivity all promote chronic inflammation.  Inflammation disrupts sleep, and slowly depresses our ability to make pro-active lifestyle choices.  So you can see how this can become a vicious cycle, especially if we are time-pressured and over-stretched in our waking hours.

Your body’s adaptive mechanisms get de-regulated, and may need support.  There are a lot of herbal remedies that can be helpful here, but my first questions are:

“Are you having trouble going to sleep?”

This often points to a surge of cortisol at an inappropriate time of day. This is usually linked to a “slow-to-start” pattern in the morning, and a dysregulated appetite.  This is fundamentally a stress-driven problem with the hormonal or endocrine system, and has serious long-term consequences.

“Are you having trouble staying asleep?”

Our sleep cycles between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM phases. Our deepest, most restful sleep happens in the non-REM cycle, and that’s exactly when the body is able to do its repair work.  Long term disruption here degrades and distorts genetic expression, leading ultimately to health breakdown.

“What time of the night do you tend to wake up?”

These can give us some clues as to what system (liver, gall bladder, lungs, etc.) may be most affected.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for these problems to exist at the same time!  The body doesn’t isolate this kind of systemic problem particularly well, so a multi-dimensional approach is usually the most effective.  But work on the easy, mechanical aspects of sleep first!

Here are some guidelines for the optimal amount of sleep to get:
Adults
7 – 8 hours is enough for most adults, but it can be anywhere from 6 – 10

12 – 18 years
8 – 9.5 hours*
*Some experts believe more sleep is needed during hormonally active growth spurts in adolescence

8 – 12 years
11 hours

1 – 5 years
13 – 14 hours, tapering to 10 – 12 hours

Infants < 1 year
16 hours (total day & night)

posted in Healthy Sleep, Stress Strategies

Get a Good Night’s Sleep!

Mother sleeping with childWant to make 2018 your most productive and happiest year ever?  Start by giving your body and brain the repair time you need.  A refreshing night’s sleep boosts your metabolism, sharpens your edge, improves your relationships, and keeps you on track with your life goals.

So don’t shortchange yourself!  Use these simple guidelines to get the rest you need:

 

Refresh your bed:

Rotating your mattress will keep you from sleeping in a ever-deepening rut.  That’s bad for your mattress and for your back.  Give your neck a break, too: make sure your pillow fits you*, and replace it every 12 – 18 months.

Set it at 65:

We sleep much better when it’s not too hot and not too cold.

Embrace the dark:

The blue light emitted by tablets and smartphones disrupts the pineal gland’s ability to produce melatonin, so keep technology out of your sleeping space.  Even better, limit their use in the hour before your bedtime.  Light-blocking curtains are helpful, too.

Rest, don’t digest:

Eating within 2 – 3 hours of your bedtime forces your body to be metabolically active, just when you need it to focus on rest and repair.  Hydrating during the day, rather than the evening, will help you sleep all night without needing to empty your bladder.

Limit caffeine:

If you are routinely powering through the day on caffeine and sugar, your adrenal glands are in trouble.  Distressed adrenal function leads to overall hormonal imbalance and progressive system failure.  If you need help breaking that cycle, please call us.

Stick to a schedule:

Your body loves predictability!  Sticking to a routine for when you eat, exercise and sleep is one of the most productive and healthful habits you can give yourself.

Get physical – and spiritual:

Regular exercise is just not a luxury.  If walking around the block is all you can fit into your day, be sure to do that every day.  Connecting with nature and your inner voice is powerful: you’ll manage stress better, enjoy your day more, and sleep better at night.

Enlist gravity:

Posture always matters, even while you’re asleep.  Your body’s lymphatic system is a vital maintenance mechanism that drains away accumulated toxins and inflammatory cells from the brain.  Side sleeping on a supportive pillow optimizes that drainage.  Back sleeping is next best.  If you are used to sleeping on your belly, now’s the time to develop a better habit.  Using a body pillow can help.

An added bonus: sleeping with your left side down is the most relaxing position for your hard-working heart.

Don’t suffer needlessly:

If you are consistently having trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep, please reach out for help**.  You have too much to be and do in the world to operate at a disadvantage.

*I routinely help patients evaluate their existing pillows, so they Little girl sleeping in her bedknow what to look for when they go shopping.

**If the suggestions above don’t help you get to sleep, your circadian rhythm and adrenal output may need to be regulated.  If you are regularly waking up during the night, it may be that a particular organ system needs to be supported.  Please call us for an evaluation!

A PDF of this information is available here!

 

posted in Healthy Living, Healthy Sleep, Uncategorized

Powerhouse Immune Boosters

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberries – Anti-oxidant, anti-aging; neuro-protective; anti-cancer; supports digestion; heart protective; nutrient-dense; delicious source of healthy fiber

Chiles – Excellent source of beta-carotene; promotes healthy mucous membranes; contains capsaicin, which fights congestion and is anti-inflammatory; super high in Vitamin C bioflavonoids; supports white blood cell formation

Dark chocolate – Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant, mineral rich;
heart protective; improves mood

Different colored vegetables – Rich in fiber, Vitamins A, C & E, potassium, folate (essential for red blood cell formation), & many other phytonutrients; the key to good health in every season. Eat a wide variety, and strive for five (or more) servings a day.

Echinacea – Strong immunity modulator; anti-aging; anti-cancer. Best used long term; sourcing & formulation are essential, so shop for efficacy, not for price.

Fresh ginger – Anti-nausea; promotes good digestion & nutrient absorption; anti-bacterial and anti-fungal; helps prevent blood clotting; anti-cancer; traditional diabetes remedy

Garlic – Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; heart protective; anti-fungal; detoxifying;
supports healthy digestion; anti-oxidant & anti-aging

Green tea – Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant; heart and neuro-protective;
helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels; anti-cancer & anti-aging

Oranges – Rich in fiber and Vitamins A and C, along with other phytonutrients: pantothenic acid, calcium, copper and potassium. Best eaten whole!

Parsley – Excellent source of Vitamins K, C and A; rich in flavonoids, folate, and iron; contains anti-cancer volatile compounds; anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory; traditional diabetic remedy; promotes bone health

Raw local honey – Anti-oxidant; traditional diabetes remedy in conjunction with cinnamon; moderates pollen allergies; anti-bacterial when used topically; soothing to the throat; delicious energy source

Salt water gargle – Inhibits bacterial growth; balances pH; promotes healing of sores; prevents plaque buildup. A neti pot nasal rinse 2-3 times a week is a great addition to a daily throat gargle.

Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; anti-depressant; helps regulate blood sugar; heart & gut protective. Best as food, with fat (ex. coconut milk) for absorption

Water – This can be unappealing when it’s cold outside, or if you are feeling unwell, but it’s always essential to your health to stay hydrated. Try drinking it warm!

Warming broth – If all else fails and you end up with a cold or other virus, make some easy, warming broth that will help you get better faster:

Immune boosting broth:
Sauté finely chopped onion, celery, carrot and minced garlic in olive or coconut oil. Add ground turmeric, and stir to coat vegetables. (Also add fresh ground ginger, if desired.) Pour in chicken or beef broth (homemade from bones, for preference) and cook over low heat until hot and savory.
Any combination of the above ingredients that you can manage is fine; more is better.

Throat soothing tisane – Here’s a delicious way to help your throat and your immune response at the same time:

Orange ginger tisane:
Peel an orange, cut up the pulp in smallish pieces and put in large teapot. Add 1″ fresh ginger, skinned and cut in small chunks. (If throat is irritated, add 1 tsp. raw honey – local if possible.) Po¬ur boiling water into teapot; let steep 5 minutes. Pour off liquid 1 cup at a time and drink slowly.
You can make a second batch with the same orange/ginger. Eat the orange pulp, if desired.

Herbal teas to keep on hand – Here’s a short list of readily available teas to boost your mood and your health:

Traditional medicinal teas:
Breathe Easy
Echinacea Plus
Ginger with Chamomile
Lemon Balm
Throat Coat

Tulsi teas:
Lemon Ginger
Turmeric Ginger

Yogi teas:
Breathe Deep
DeTox
Echinacea Immune Support
Egyptian Licorice
Ginger
Throat Comfort

posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bark

Chocolate is often seen as a guilty indulgence, but dark chocolate provides health benefits along with the sweet taste.  Here’s a treat that is kind to both your taste buds and your body.Almonds, orange peel and salt chocolate bark

You will need:

3 oz. dark chocolate (65% or above)

¼ c. roughly chopped raw almonds

¼ c. dried blueberries

Pinch of sea salt (optional)

Directions:

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler*, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Remove the chocolate from heat.

Stir in the almonds and dried blueberries.

Spread out the mixture on a pan covered with parchment paper; sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

Cool the bark for 1-2 hours.

*This is essentially two pots stacked on top of one another.  Put 2 – 3 inches of water in the bottom pan.  Then put the chocolate in the second, slightly smaller pot on top of the first pan.  Bring the water to a simmer or very slow boil.  The heat from the steaming water melts the chocolate slowly.  Stir the chocolate frequently to avoid burning.

More information on dark chocolate:

Studies suggest that dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol by up to 10%.  It also contains antioxidants which combat free radicals, and is lower in fat than milk chocolate.   Dark chocolate releases serotonin and endorphins, producing a sense of well-being.  Exercise also releases endorphins: a less calorie-intensive way of boosting your mood!

Variations:

Try dried cherries or cranberries in place of the dried blueberries.

Try finely chopped walnuts or pecans as a variant for the almonds.

Try adding finely chopped crystallized ginger for more zing.

 

You can find a PDF version of this recipe here.

posted in Healthy Eating

Curried Pumpkin Soup

If you don’t load it up with cream, pumpkin is a low calorie food, with tons of Vitamin A
(good for your eyes) and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. These minerals can play a role in your ability to stay hydrated, among other benefits. Like all members of the squash family, it’s actually a fruit! The seeds are also delicious, and super-nutritious. So here’s what I’m making for Thanksgiving supper: curried pumpkin soup.

You will need:
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
2” piece of fresh ginger
1 – 2 Tb Olive / coconut oil
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander ¼ tsp ground cardamom
2 big cans organic pumpkin
3 cups water
2 cups veggie / chicken stock
1 can full-fat coconut milk
¾ tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp salt

Directions:
Finely chop the onions, and mince the garlic cloves and ginger. It’s easiest to put the garlic through a press, and use a grater or microplane for the ginger. You can also use garlic and ginger paste if you’re in a hurry.
Heat a heavy sauté pan over fairly low heat. Add enough olive oil (or coconut oil, if you like the flavor) to really coat the bottom of your pan: about 1 – 2 tablespoons*. Add 2 tsp. brown mustard seeds*. Let them “pop”. Add the onion, let it sauté a few minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and let that cook a bit. Add the cumin, coriander, and cardamom.
*If you are interested in avoiding oil, consider learning more about dry sautéing.

Now you can open 2 big cans of pumpkin and toss that it. You want at least 3 cups. Trader Joes has organic pumpkin; just make sure you don’t use pumpkin pie filling! Now add about 3 cups of water, 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, and 1 can of full-fat coconut milk (also available at Trader Joes).
Season with ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes & 1-2 tsp. salt. Let it simmer for half an hour. Then let it cool, and puree in a blender or food processor. Check to see if it needs more salt.

If you want to make this ahead of time, just cool completely and refrigerate. When you re-heat it, you can top it with a little creamy yoghurt and some cilantro. Happy Thanksgiving!

Other ideas:
In addition to veggie and chicken stock, you can also use bouillon or a combination of miso paste and water for a more umami flavor.

posted in Healthy Eating, Seasonal Tips

Travel Tips

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the mechanics of travel can take a toll.  Here are some ways to help you arrive in a happier state of being!

On the plane or train:

Check bags that are heavier than 10% of your body weight.  And remember – even mules prefer a balanced load, so do your best to distribute the weight you carry evenly.

Keep your body in line with the task.   Everyone wants to get right into their seat – but take a few moments to line yourself up in front of the overhead bin or rack.  Often it’s easier to lift your bag in stages; if you can use the seat / armrest as a resting point halfway, do.   Ask for help if you need it!  PLEASE DON’T hoist your monster-heavy bag overhead, twist your torso and neck, lean forwards and push –  all while you stand on your tippie-toes!

If you stow your bag below the seat in front of yours, please cut down on the number of times you have to bend down and get stuff out of it.  There’s barely room for your feet (let alone your head!) so there’s really no good way to do it.  So try to minimize the amount of twisting you do, and don’t force bulky objects in with your feet: it’s easy to strain your lower back and legs.

Move around as much as you can!  Prolonged sitting can restrict blood flow and build up pressure in your circulatory system – especially in the lower part of the legs.  Change your position:  massage your arms and legs; move your knees up and down; prop your feet up on a book or bag; do some gentle head and neck stretches or range of motion exercises; sit up straight, arch your back, wiggle around – do something like this at least every 20 minutes.  And you can always get up and walk down the aisle…

An inflatable neck pillow can make a big difference on a long flight; if you fall asleep, you won’t feel like Quasimodo when you wake up!  Try to avoid drafts: point the air nozzle away from you to keep your muscles from tensing up.  And – of course – drink lots of water!

In the car:

Check your position relative to the steering wheel.  Are all your mirrors lined up so you can see?  Are you in the center of your seat?  Are your knees the same height or higher than your hips?  If you’re poking your head forwards, move your seat up!  Not only is this a better position for your body, it’ll help you relax the death grip on the steering wheel!  If you use a back or seat support, make sure it’s centered – and that it fits you (ask your chiropractor to check your car seat)!

Exercise while you drive: wiggle your toes; squeeze your calf, thigh and butt muscles; do shoulder rolls; rock your sit bones back and forth; tap your fingers on the wheel; sing – whatever keeps you lively.  Most importantly, take a break every hour.  Get off the road, out of the car, and get some fresh air.  Whew!

Have a wonderful trip!

posted in Healthy Living, Posture & Ergonomics, Seasonal Tips

The Hidden Cost of Pesticides

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Annually, 33,500 tons of pesticides and 3 million tons of fertilizer are used on U.S. lawns (1 ton = 2000 pounds!).

 

 

 

 

Pesticide residue contaminates air, dust, household surfaces, and carpets due to drift and track-in.

 

 

 

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides: 16 are toxic to birds, 24 are toxic to aquatic organisms, and 11 are toxic to bees.

 

 

 

Children in homes using pesticides are 6.5 times more likely to develop leukemia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: beyondpesticides.org, duke.edu, The United States Environmental Protection Agency

 

So, how can you minimize your exposure to these toxins?

  • Invest in a filter system for your drinking and cooking water, and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.  Use a metal water bottle if you can, rather than plastic.
  • Avoid highly processed food, and use the Clean 15 / Dirty Dozen shopping guide.
  • Change into house shoes or go barefoot when you get home.  This reduces tracked-in toxic debris and makes cleaning easier!
  • Remember that your skin absorbs chemicals, so shop for personal care products that won’t compromise your health.  Sadly, cosmetics are one of the worst offenders.
  • Use non-toxic soaps and cleaners inside your house.  Many good brands are now available.
  • Air your house regularly, and change your HVAC filters on a schedule.  If you use window AC units, rinse out the filters once a month.
  • Run a ventilator fan while you shower, and use a de-humidifier in damp areas of your house to discourage mold and mildew.
  • Remove the plastic from dry-cleaned clothes and let them air thoroughly before storing.
  • If you are in the market for new carpeting or furniture, avoid heavily treated synthetic or fiberboard products.  Always let new products have a chance to out-gas before use.
  • Buy better alternatives to lawn and garden pesticides: this helps our health, the pollinators we depend on, and protects our water supply.
  • If your neighbors use a lawn service, ask them to please request non-toxic products or switch to a company that does.
  • Be proactive about your health! Good diet, sleep and exercise habits support your physical health and your ability to withstand the inevitable stresses of daily life.  If you think you need a detox, please call on us: we are here to help!

An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

PDF version of this information

 

 

posted in Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

The Skinny on Stool

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Toddler Boy Sitting On Potty

The quality of your stool says a lot about you: what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, and how well or badly your gut flora and gut wall are able to process your food.  Your food is your energy source, so it’s a critical factor in your vitality.  Moreover, a large part of your immune system lives in your gut!  When that doesn’t work well, your health is at risk.

8 signs of healthy stool

  • Color: light or medium brown
  • Consistency: smooth & soft
  • Size: 1-2 inches in diameter; 4 to 8 inches in length is common
  • Shape: should be one long tube, may have an S-shape
  • Behavior: should drop quietly into the bowl in one piece
  • Smell: not overly smelly, not foul or super stinky
  • Texture: smooth, uniform; no lumps or bumps
  • Frequency: 1-2 times daily
 title What it means / Concerns
 type-1 Indicates a lack of bacteria, and insufficient hydration. Higher risk of rectal bleeding.
 type-2 Type 1 stool, impacted together by fiber and bacteria.  Can cause anal canal laceration, hemorrhoidal prolapse, or diverticulosis, and possible small intestine involvement.
 type-3 Similar to Type 2 stool, but moves through the intestine more rapidly.  Higher risk for irritable bowel syndrome.
 type-4 Normal shape for a single daily bowel movement.
 type-5 Typical for people who defecate 2-3 times daily, most usually after large meals.
 type-6

May suggest a slightly hyperactive colon, excess potassium, sudden dehydration, or sudden increase of blood pressure related to stress.  Can also be indicative high stress, over-spiced foods, water with high mineral content, or use of osmotic laxatives.

 type-7 Commonly known as diarrhea, this can be due to multiple causes.  If it persists longer than 2 days, or contains blood or dark tarry stool, please consult your health care practitioner.

Bristol Stool Chart developed by Lewis and Heaton from the University of Bristol

posted in Healthy Living, Know Your Body

Poison Ivy

 poison ivy, autumn

 

The active element in poison ivy is an oil called urushiol and it is nasty!  It is very potent, spreads easily on your skin and can be transmitted to you via your pet’s fur.  If you think you’ve been exposed to it, your best defense is a thorough scrubbing with warm, soapy water. You also need to wash any clothing or bedding that has been exposed; twice is better than once.  If your pet will let you, wash them as well.  

 

If you make an autumn bonfire, please make sure there is no poison ivy mixed in with your wood; inhaling the oil can create a medical emergency.  Difficulty breathing, a rash and swelling near eyes or genitals, or a rash over most of your body are all indicators that you need emergency medical treatment.

 

If yoPoison Ivyu missed the chance to wash off the oil and are already developing the rash, DO NOT SCRATCH and DO NOT BREAK THE VESICLES that will form on your skin.  This can be hard to resist; they not only itch, but they are also painful as they harden.  

 

But breaking the fluid-filled sac can open you up to an infection, so exercise your will power and try some remedies to cool the burn.  From start to fading finish, the rash can last up to 14 – 21 days, so you are going to want some relief.  You can bathe the rash with vinegar, you can put a paste of water and baking soda on it, you can cool it with cucumber slices.  Some people have success with a cortisone cream.  Baths with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda can ease the discomfort.  

 

Cool compresses can also help – but the best thing I found is Fels Naptha soap.  Make a heavy lather and let it sit on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing.  Repeat 1 – 2fels_naptha 2 times a day, but avoid contact with your eyes or other areas of your skin.   For me, this accelerated the drying-out process and reduced the discomfort considerably.  I also recommend supporting your immune system while you are waiting this out: I took a lot of Congaplex daily, on top of my usual Echinacea Premium and Thymex.  Anything that helps speed up this process is a very good thing!

posted in Seasonal Tips

Announcements

Personal assessments of your workplace ergonomics now available! Dr. Winters will make practical suggestions that are easy for you to implement, and make a big difference in your stress and energy levels.

Talks

Dr. Winters loves to talk about posture. Have her come do a presentation for your school or community group! Recent presentation topics include nutrition, seasonal detoxification, the physical mechanism of stress (and how to combat it!), and a general introduction on working with your own body's self-regulating ability.

Talks can be tailored to the interests of your group, and generally run 10 or 20 minutes. She also offers a 50 minute class on posture for high school girls, which is both fun and illuminating!