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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sick Days

I have been sick (cold, sneezing, coughing, chest and sinus congestion) all freaking week. It's been m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e! Or rather, *I* have been miserable. Just ask my son.

So I thought we should talk about staying on track ... even on those sick days.

Back in the day, (that makes me sound like I am 80), when I lived at home my mom would break out the sick day staples: white toast, crackers, noodles....and chicken broth. Knowing what I know about food and nutrition, all the processed white carbs did was provide calories (empty and unhealthy) while the chicken broth seemed to work its magic. (So did mom putting her wrist on my forehead to "check" my temperature. I always think of that when I am sick.)

According to Dr. Mercola, chicken broth made from the bones (carcass) of the bird has proven medicinal value. He states "Simmering bones over low heat for an entire day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Keep in mind that the "skin" that forms on the top is the best part. It contains valuable nutrients, such as sulfur, along with healthful fats, so just stir it back into the broth."

Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.

So our mothers and grandmothers were right! I think we'll find that a lot of the "medicine" we use today was developed to fill the gap between today's diet and the healthy nutrition we used to get from real food. But that's another blog altogether.

To make the stock, you'll first need the carcass of a chicken. (Sounds yummy, doesn't it?)

I am not a Suzie Homemaker, but I did happen to roast an organic chicken last Sunday and put all the bones in the freezer. Maybe I sensed a cold coming on.

I don't think there is a need for a specific recipe for this. I think some bones, water, veggies and time simmering in a crock-pot is all you need.  

But here's what I did:
  • 1 organic chicken carcass (I think 2 or 3 would have been better, to make more, but I only had one. You want organic because you don't want chemicals and hormones and antibiotics leaching into your broth!)
  • A few cups of water. I used 4 cups
  • 1 onion cut up (large pieces)
  • 6-8 baby carrots cut up (large pieces)
  • 1 large celery stalk cut up (large pieces)
  • 1 tbsp Braggs organic vinegar (to help extract the goodies from the bones)

I put it in the crock-pot before I went to bed and let it simmer on low all night, and all during the next day until I got home from work. I ended up adding a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper because with the cold my sense of taste wasn't that great and I felt it needed it.

I drained/sieved the stock from the veggies and carcass and voila! Chicken broth!

Then I picked out the cooked veggies and some of the little bits of chicken and put them in a bowl, added some of the hot broth, got out the hand-held blender and made a kind of cream of chicken soup simply by blending it all together. It was a nice, yummy, hot meal that didn't require very much effort and it felt great taking care of myself in this way.

You can make this in advance and freeze it, and since this is cold season...why not do it this weekend?

In addition the the daily broth, I have avoided ALL white processed carbs and have feasted on dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), broccoli, lean proteins (chicken, salmon, eggs) and have carried my water bottle with me everywhere.  And I lost 3.8 pounds this week!

A friend's brother is a doctor.  He likes to say that if you have a cold and treat it with medicine, you will get over it in 7 to 10 days. And if you have a cold and do nothing about it, you will get over it in 7 to 10 days. 
I'm sure that's probably true. 

But I think if you have a cold and eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods, those 7 to 10 days will feel better .... both physically and mentally. 

Just knowing that you didn't use being sick as an excuse to eat badly is worth the effort!

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Heart Attack? What's Your Risk?

A few years ago I was a heavy smoker and a heavy woman. I smoked 1-2 packs of cigarettes per day, weighed 320 pounds, and ate incredibly unhealthily. Not only did I not exercise, I would get so winded trying to walk across a parking lot I would have to either walk very slowly or stop to catch my breath.

I can't even imagine what my risk for heart attack or cardiovascular disease was at that time. I can't tell you, because I was too embarrassed to even go to a doctor. I didn't have regular physical exams, checkups and honestly, I didn't want to know. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, and I wasn't ready or able to start healing the physical stuff while I was still trying so hard to heal the inside (emotional and spiritual) stuff.

My current employer offers a partial physical exam. They test blood work, urine, weight, hearing and eye sight. Although I am scheduled for a full annual exam with my own general practitioner in April, I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of this free exam and benchmark the start of 2014. Since I have renewed focus this year and am actively losing again and actively exercising again, my hope is that when I compare my January and April numbers it will show marked improvement.

Still, I'm pretty happy already with the first set! All my numbers fall in the "healthy" or recommended desirable range!

So how do you go from a-heart-attack-waiting-to-happen to falling within a healthy range? You know what I 'm going to say, right? ONE NEXT RIGHT CHOICE AT A TIME!

Remember, I stopped smoking, then gained even more weight. Then I added one new thing at a time, starting with "drinking more water." Then I added "one healthy fruit or vegetable" to every meal. If I went to McDonalds for a Big Mac, I'd start with a side of apple slices. If I went to Wendy's and got a fried chicken sandwich and a large Frosty, I'd eat a small side salad first, no matter what.  Then I started walking on a treadmill...going 2 mph for 5 minutes!  No kidding!

Now I am able to lightly jog an entire 5k, participate in obstacle course/mud runs and I have lost 80 pounds.  It all adds up!

Now that I am refocused for 2014, my next right choices are going to be easier. I already drink water all the time. I already eat salads all the time. I already love fruits, veggies, and know the difference between processed frankenfood and REAL food. I just need to make next right PORTION choices and next right GET OFF MY ASS AND WORK OUT choices.

Okay guys and can't fix what you don't acknowledge. If you have any recent cholesterol numbers, go to the NIH: Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating Your 10-year Risk of Having a Heart Attack and see where you stand.(I am in the 1% range. 1 out 100 people with my stats have heart attacks.) This information can either reinforce your past and current next right choices, or help shape your future ones!

One thing is for sure. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and starting today you can choose to decrease or increase your risk for a heart attack. As always, the choice is ours!

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