Lately, I've been groggy, enervated, and just plain tired-- and it's not for lack of nutrients, exercise, or happiness in my life. I've never dealt with this problem before, but alas--- I'm not sleeping well- nor enough! Apparently, sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days and most people don't know they're suffering from it. Science can back it up: a deficit of sleep has far reaching and serious effects on our health that can't be remedied no matter how much we pay the coffee industry.
Constant interrupted or impaired sleep can:
*Dramatically weaken your immune system and make you feel run-down and sick more often than usual.
*Seriously impair your memory and impact your ability to think clearly the next day (not good for my line of work!).
*Cause a pre-diabetic state- leaving you feeling hungry after you've eaten which leads to stomach problems and weight gain.
*Bring on mood disorders like anxiety, listlessness, and depression.
*Interrupt glucose metabolism- leaving you feeling a lack of energy, as we derive energy from stored glucose.
*Make you look older. Sleep deprivation interrupts growth hormone production- which is normally released by your pituitary gland while you sleep and consequently makes you look refreshed and younger.
My sweet/concerned bf sent me this article
which includes some fun factoids about the topic, like:"A single night of sleep can more than double our ability to come up with novel solutions to difficult problems";
"One night without sleep leaves you performing like you were legally drunk at a blood alcohol content of 0.08";
and this: "If you are sleep deprived you are more likely to be dead in 20 years"
There are numerous before-bedtime rules that we've all heard of before, and the following are ones I try to abide by most:
*Take a hot bath or shower (the rise and fall of body temp facilitates sleep).
*Don't drink fluids 2 hours before bed.
*Wear an eye mask to block out light (to sleep in utter darkness; even the tiniest glow from your alarm clock can disrupt your sleep).
*Listen to relaxation CD's (consider a sound machine
or a CD of ocean waves)- and with that- don't watch TV right before bed (brain stimuli will keep you up).
*Write in a journal and/or read something uplifting (no Stieg Larsson).
*Don't sleep with pets or teeth grinding boyfriends, no matter how cute (unfortunately, this will never happen).
Take care when waking as well; getting up to a loud alarm is stressful on the body. Consider a Zen alarm clock
or a Sun alarm clock
. I have a great one on my phone
which sounds the loveliest gongs.
It's ironic that I'm sacrificing sleep as I write this post about the detriments of sleep debt. And with that, I'm off to bed.
Ben and I did some major Spring Cleaning this past weekend. I know, it's only January, and there are feet of snow in some areas of this country. I sure don't miss the biting cold, frozen slippery sidewalks, or 5-layers-of-clothing-and-still-freezing wintry January dread that I've endured in New York in prior winters.
This California girl loves her sunshine. In fact, Spring came early here in San Francisco, and I couldn't be happier. But it's also brought about allergic-y sneezing, sniffling and congestions that are unfun. Sweeping up cobwebs and dustballs (and dog hair) has made a major difference, however. Allergy-proof your home by maintaining an even-keeled temp between 68-72 degrees indoors, allowing for good ventilation, and wiping down surfaces! It's easier than you realize to whip up your own household cleaners. Store aisles are loaded with overpriced cleaning agents that are nothing short of baking soda, vinegar and water solutions and a bunch of unneeded, harmful chemicals and fragrance added in. Ditch the pricey stuff and reach into your cupboard. Try these efficient, non-toxic, AND environmentally friendly cleaning products that are simple, unfussy, and inexpensive- that can be found right in your own home!
A natural disinfectant and deodorizer, white vinegar can be used as an all-purpose cleaner on most surfaces around your home. Try mixing a solution of one part vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle, and use it to cut grease and remove mildew and other stains from all your bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Vinegar can also be used as an effective and hypoallergenic fabric softener; add 1/2 cup to every load during the rinse cycle. And no, your clothes (nor your walls) will smell of vinegar.
This natural disinfectant and bleaching agent has a variety of uses both in and out of the kitchen. To sterilize wooden cutting boards, rub the cut side of a lemon half over the entire surface of the board, then rinse with hot water. To get a stain out from clothing and other surfaces, try mixing lemon juice with soda to make a paste and apply it to the spot; wipe away after 10 minutes. Due to its highly acidic nature, lemon juice can even be used to dissolve soap scum, hard water deposits, mold and mildew. Plus, even the peel can be put to good use; grinding the peel of an entire lemon through a garbage disposal will freshen its blades and the drain below.
We all know the trick of sticking a box of this great natural deodorizer in the back of our fridge, but did you know it can also be used as a gentle and effective household scouring agent? For instance, to treat hardened stains on easily scratched surfaces like stovetops or refrigerator shelves, try sprinkling baking powder directly on top of the stain and scrub with a damp sponge until clean. You can also use baking soda to deodorize and remove some of the buildup in a dishwasher; simply pour a cup of it into the machine and run the rinse cycle. To make an all-purpose cleaning paste that you can stow away, mix 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 cups water and use it for that occasional tub scrub.
Tea Tree Oil.
A highly effective anti-bacterial agent, tea tree oil is great for treating most household bacteria. Prevent mold and mildew by spraying down your walls once a week with a solution of 1 cup water and 2 drops of organic tea tree essential oil, then wipe dry.
Unscented Liquid Soap.
Remember my post about the magical Dr. Bronner's
? Unless it contains sodium lauryl sulfate, phosphates, fragrance, or petroleum distillates, a solution of unscented liquid soap distilled with water makes for a great multi-purpose cleaning solution, which can just about clean anything- from surfaces, floors and even pets.
See how easy- and even fun? Try these out for your next spring cleaning!
Hankering for a burger? How bout a black bean kind?I
love me this black bean burger. I remember way back when I used to hanker meaty burgers with french fries. Yeah. That was before I learned how irresponsible the meat industry is with the environment what with its energy usage- not to mention all the unknown variables of slaughterhouse behind-the-scenes. Oh, and not to mention meat is full of saturated fat. And yes, protein. But guess what? Legumes are full of protein (of the fat-free variety) and also fiber and antioxidants- and meat doesn't. So then this Black Bean Burger is a sweeter deal. Not only is it full of said nutrients, but totally satiating and 100% big hungry boyfriend approved. Swap out french fries for Kale Chips
and make the deal even sweeter.Easy recipe:1 can Organic Black beans, rinsed 1-2 cloves Garlic, minced1/2 onion or 2 shallots, chopped3/4 cup breadcrumbs
(or 1 piece of bread)Salt to tasteSprinkles of cumin, turmeric, coriander and black pepper (optional)Bring all ingredients together in a pot (except for breadcrumbs) and cook for 25 minutes on low heat. Stir...Transfer goods to a food processor and PULSE for 5 seconds, adding in breadcrumbs.
Stir, pulse, stir pulse.On a baking sheet, form mixture into patty sizes, drizzle over olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, until each side 'looks' baked (somewhat hard). Don't worry about it being crumbly. It's still good. Serve patty on buns or on toast of choice (I used Sprouted Barley) slathered with some avocado with sea salt, and slap on tomatoes and lettuce. Serve with a side of Organic Ketchup- but look out for High Fructose Corn Syrup- the silent killer- lurking in those Heinz bottles. xoS
My best tip for keeping warm during cold winter nights is to make a vat of chili to last a few days... I used our fancy new Le Creuset that we got for Christmas to whip up my favorite Vegetarian Chili. Check out this recipe: not only is it SUPER easy (because you can basically throw in any veggies and beans you want), but it's full of nutritious goodness.
Susan's Beat the Chills Chili:
1 can Organic Red Kidney Beans
1 can Organic Black Beans
1 can Organic Adzuki Beans (optional, but highly recommended as these little guys are crazy high in nutrition)
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 bell or red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 whole lemon, squeezed
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Turmeric
Salt to taste
In a pot, bring together beans and sweet potatoes. Let sit for 20 minutes or so. Throw in oil, tomatoes, onions, peppers, leeks and all other vegetables, stirring till well mixed. Let simmer on low-medium heat for another 25 minutes. Lastly throw in spices, lemon and salt to taste. Sprinkle over parsley and serve with tortilla chips.
See how easy? Using REAL ingredients, this recipe will be your favorite go-to survival food during the winter. Not only will it satiate and keep you warm, but it'll give you a ton of nutrients as it's two key players (beans and sweet potatoes) do a body good:
Beans (of all sorts) are high in B Vitamins, Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, and have ridiculous amounts of anti-oxidants and soluble fiber (which just means that it helps process fats, lowers cholesterol, and slows the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream; also fiber is that which makes you feel FULL and further, is a key weight-loss food). Try them all out; there are many to choose from: white, red, adzuki, black, garbanzo, mung, navy, lentils, fava, pinto, lima, soy.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite root veggies. They contain high amounts of beta-carotene (great for treating arthritis and diabetes and preventing cancer), anti-inflammatory properties, and are in general excellent immunity boosters due to the levels of Vitamin C, B-complex, iron and phosphorus. They soothe the stomach lining and intestines and are also a key weight-loss food, as the complex starch found in these potatoes are easy to digest and provide a ton of energy. Plus, they're SWEET- so if you add these in your main dish, they'll satisfy your sweet tooth thus eliminating that crazy urge for dessert afterward. Try it!
Make a vat stat!
Hello, brand new year! I'm so grateful for all the blessings of 2010 and look forward to a new year full of good cheer.
I spent most of Christmas break nestled in my parents' home in Los Angeles, mainly photo journaling and documenting a lot of my mom's great recipes, including 4 different types of homemade kimchi! Stay tuned for a classic Korean recipe coming soon...
New Year's Eve was pretty cozy and special as it was spent alongside some of my favorite friends in our home in San Francisco. Finger foods were definitely in order, which included among others, goat cheese-stuffed figs, macaroons (which I did not make as I'm not much of a confectioner yet), and these easy baked sweet potato chips:
To make these, a dehydrator would be ideal. But baking works too:
2 medium sweet potatoes, mandolined or sliced thinly.
Lay potato slices on a baking sheet, drizzle over very evenly Olive Oil, and sprinkle over some sea salt.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until browning occurs. Careful not to burn, although some of the really well done ones are crispy good...
I'd like to thank all my wonderful readers, clients and friends for all your support of Prana Wellness these past 6 months, for all your kind words, thoughtful questions, comments and emails that have and continue to help me carry out my mission as a Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach.
Look forward to more exciting recipes, more features on eco-products, an herbal guide for weight loss and skincare, a post on organic DIY home remedies for bodycare, and much more!
Hope your new year is off to a radical start and that the rest is happy happy happy. A great quote that struck me recently was something along the lines of "Happiness isn't a station that you get off at; it's a manner by which to travel"...