Choose Stress-Free For Christmas

It’s the last weekend before Christmas, and all through the house … what’s going on? Does chaos reign in your home at this time of year, or serenity? It’s a great time for socializing, enjoying the company of friends and family. Wonderful time for volunteering your time to help others. Walking through the neighborhood or driving around town to ooh and aah at the creative and/or abundant display of lights and decorations on the houses is fun to do.

There was a time in my life when this season was about running around in circles doing way too much, spending way too much, and enjoying way too little. I was one of those moms still wrapping presents at 3 am on Christmas morning before falling into bed for a 3-hour nap before the real craziness started. Now I look around and think, hmmm, I may have swung too far in the other direction. That feeling never lasts too long! My current under-decorating, under-shopping, and under-partying ways suit me just fine.

Today I’m trying out a new recipe for gluten-free gingerbread pancakes. (If they turn out well, you may see the recipe tomorrow.) Tonight would be a good time to drive around and check out the Christmas finery on all the houses. In between? Yes, there are some errands to run, to the post office and the grocery store, too. I’m choosing to focus on the happy and the relaxed for now. Have a peaceful Saturday!

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This Maple-Glazed Salmon recipe could make you love fish!

I like most kinds of seafood, and especially salmon. This recipe is super easy and quick to make. With a scoop of brown rice or quinoa and some nice steamed veggies, it makes a great gluten-free meal that everyone can enjoy – even those who do not usually care for fish!

Here’s what you need: 

1/4 cup maple syrup, preferably the real stuff
2 tablespoons soy sauce – I used San-J’s gluten-free
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt – I skipped this, since the soy sauce is fairly salty already
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon

and here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.
Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork (thicker pieces of salmon take a little longer).

maple salmon

Source:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/maple-salmon/

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Finally, Steps to Outlaw Trans-Fats

Remember about 15 years ago when we started hearing that margarine and other products containing trans fats were bad for us? Back then, it was pretty hard to know what had trans fats in it and what did not. Margarine got most of the bad press, although most packaged cookies, crackers, and snack foods also had trans fat in them.

Then, starting in 2006, food companies were required to list trans fat on food labels. Many companies realized that consumers would not want to buy products that were labeled as having trans fats, so they started changing their recipes to eliminate the badness. At least, many companies that produce food with labels made changes. Food in restaurants, cafeterias, bakeries, and so on, with no labels, were still a gamble. Many companies kept on using the trans fats because, after all, consumers had no way of knowing.

I always love statements like, “There is no safe level of consumption of trans fat”, coming from the head of the FDA. Well, if the stuff is not safe to eat, why is it still in our food supply years after we learned it was killing people? Good question! Regardless of the answer, we can only move forward from where we are. And apparently the FDA is now ready to take the first step forward. Lucky for us!

Another quote from the CNN article (cited below):  “So what should consumers do in the meantime? Choose products that have the lowest combined amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat, the FDA said.”

I’m going to have to disagree with the FDA. I have no credentials, I’m not a doctor or researcher or expert of any kind, but this sounds silly to me. First, tell me that there is no safe level of consumption. Second, tell me to choose products with the lowest amount of badness including trans fat? Maybe we should choose products with NO trans fat whenever possible.

When a product has less than a half-gram of trans fat, the company is officially allowed to label it as zero trans fat. It could actually have anything up to 0.5 grams. When in doubt, look at the ingredient list. The stuff to avoid is usually listed as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”, or shortening. No label? Watch out for fried foods, croutons, milkshakes, microwave popcorn, hot chocolate, and coffee creamer.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and publicly wonder how many years it will take before GMO’s are recognized as health hazards. Learning that the FDA is only now taking the very first step in the direction of banning trans fats is discouraging, to say the least. It remains our responsibility to stay educated about food ingredients and additives, preservatives, and methods of production in order to safeguard our health. Progress by industrial food companies moves along much faster than oversight by government agencies, and that is to our detriment.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/07/health/fda-trans-fats/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/transfats/

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How to Share Your Good Health With Others

Years ago, in a small town in California, I went to donate blood at a local blood drive. The place was crowded. I asked one of the medical folks how they got so many people in to donate that day. She laughed and told me that there was a Weight Watchers meeting scheduled upstairs in about an hour. It seems that you weight less right after giving blood, and they all wanted a good weigh-in. That’s a very logical reason to give that I had not even considered.

Yesterday I happened to be at the blood bank again, sticking out my arm for the umpteenth time. My thinking is that, since I have been blessed with good health so far, I get to share. I’m paying it forward, creating good karma. It still surprises me to see several chairs occupied in the middle of the day on a Tuesday – and a week before Christmas, at that. Besides the holiday busyness, it is colds-and-flu season. It seems like many of the regulars would not be able to donate.

The technician poking my arm told me that it’s true, they do get fewer donors in during the holidays. Demand stays the same, but supply drops – sometimes to scary levels.

It only takes about an hour to donate a pint. If you are healthy and haven’t donated blood in at least 8 weeks, please consider calling your local blood bank and setting up an appointment. Give yourself the gift of good karma to match your gift of good health.

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Simple and Great: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Don’t you just crave a cookie sometimes, even if you are eating gluten-free?  Me too. I made this recipe to take to a dinner party with a few friends recently, and it is pretty awesome! There are only four ingredients for the classic cookie, and only 5 if you sprinkle coarse salt on top. It’s hard to tell these from “real” peanut-butter cookies.

Click here for the gluten-free peanut-butter cookie recipe!

Get the kids into the kitchen too. These are super-simple to make, and they taste like home. Enjoy!

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Getting Happier By Helping

This is a great time of year for giving to the community. The Salvation Army folks are ringing bells at Fred Meyer, food banks are gathering donations of canned goods, and the Boy Scouts are helping out at the Christmas tree lot. The Christmas spirit is the spirit of giving – although we have kind of turned it into a spirit of getting in many cases. Well, guess what? Your mom was right. It really is better to give than to receive. Better for your health, in fact.

Studies have been done about the positive effect on our health when we help others. Doing good deeds helps you live longer, by reducing stress and helping create stronger social bonds. Volunteering and helping others in a hands-on way (not just writing a check, or dropping off a load of old clothes) is good for your health.

Personally, I love doing small things that will surprise a total stranger. I have been known to pay the bridge toll for the car behind me, and once picked up the tab for the food order of a police car that was behind me in the drive-through at Taco Bell. Usually I am long gone before they realize what just happened. Sometimes the gift is an encouraging word to a young mom struggling with a screaming baby at the grocery-store checkout, or a smile to someone who looks like they could use one.

The idea of helping others sounds like the “others” are getting all the benefit, and the giver is doing all the work, but that is not the whole story, or even the right story. It feels good to help. It boosts “happy” brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, according to information in the articles linked at the end of this post. Helping others is part of our social evolution. It’s part of what makes us human.

What you give is yours to keep, and what you fail to give is gone forever. That’s not mine, I think it was on one of my old Tony Robbins audio programs – and I’m paraphrasing, since I can’t seem to find it on-line and no longer have a cassette player. Yes, it is from that long ago. It stuck in my mind because there is such a great kernel of truth in it.

Look for ways to help the people around you, and not just because it’s close to Christmas. The happiness you create will be your own.

Click here to read the Upwave article about the benefits of helping others.

Click here to read the article at WebMD called “The Science of Good Deeds”.

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Tony Horton, Bringing It Again With P90X3

Once upon a time, I was lean and active. You could even say I was athletic, although I have no discernible physical talents.  The point is, I was strong and healthy, firing on all cylinders, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, clear-headed and sharp.

Then, maybe 10 years ago or so, all that nice clarity and brightness started to slide.  I ate chocolate-chip cookies for breakfast, nachos for lunch, and pizza at dinnertime.  I didn’t work out, and for some reason I was gaining weight. I didn’t eat all of that stuff every day, of course, but there was enough “low-nutrition” food in my life to cause problems. I was sluggish, didn’t sleep well, had headaches, and started feeling depressed.

Then I heard about workout programs that you could do at home, with  no gym  membership and little equipment. The name of the company that produced these programs was Beachbody.

The first Beachbody program that I bought was Power 90 Master Series (P90MS). At the time, I thought “Master” meant it was intended for older people, like those of us past 40. No, it turned out that it was for graduates of the original Power 90 who wanted more of a challenge. The P90MS workouts are tough!

I still have those P90MS DVD’s in my collection of Beachbody workout programs. My nephew started using them during the summer. So far he has lost more than 30 pounds and has graduated to the Extreme version called P90X.

The newest member of the Power 90 family is P90X3, released two days ago. The workouts are 30 minutes long rather than 60 or even 90 minutes like some of the P90X sessions. The shorter time makes it accessible even to those with hectic schedules. Most of us can’t drive to the gym and back in less than 30 minutes – so why spend the time behind the wheel when you could be finishing your workout instead?

Not to worry, you don’t have to have mastered P90X before tackling the P90x3 program. In fact, it’s the other way around. Once you have conquered P90X3, your next step forward would be P90X or P90X2.

I just ordered my copy of P90X3. Shipping is free right now, and if you order through a Coach (like me!) you also get a free bonus workout DVD called “On One Leg” and a free P90X3 hat ($24.95 value)! You also get free coaching when you sign up with a Coach so let’s get you started!

Click here to read the US News & World Report interview with Tony Horton about P90X3

Click here to order P90X3 – and have me as your Coach!

Click here to sign up for a free TeamBeachbody membership, with me as your Coach.  That will give you access to contact me for more information.



 

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