Calm Yourself with Calming Foods Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways. It is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. Stress, poor diet--protein deficiency, poor digestion, poor blood sugar control, drug (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine can deplete them. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is found in the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and blood platelets. It helps to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and also supports memory and learning. Studies show an association between serotonin levels and mood. The good news is you can naturally increase your serotonin levels with food instead of drugs. • Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa allow your brain to process more serotonin. • Eating protein and healthy omega-3 fats, found in fish, walnuts and flax, will also improve mood. • B vitamins, which are abundant in fresh leafy greens and in chemical-free, pasture-raised meat, are another important factor because they're needed for serotonin production. • Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens, are high in folic acid, a B vitamin. Low levels are linked to depression. • Bananas contain vitamin B6. They are high in potassium, an important electrolyte for a happy and calm mind. • Other foods rich in vitamin B6: turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens celery, fish, poultry, and lean beef. • Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin; these foods are high in tryptophan: turkey, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, and Kombucha, pickled foods (beets, radish, Korean kimchi) assist in digestion and assimilation of the important nutrients you need for serotonin. So try some of these foods and notice if you feel more relaxed and uplifted. Bon appetite! To receive more helpful tips for caregivers, pick up your copy of Barbra's book Calmer Waters. You can also visit Barbra at her website: https://barbracohn.com/ This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.
Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. It’s strawberry picking time! I LOVE fresh berries, and I’m always motivated to make a delightfully delicious berry dessert whenever fresh strawberries are available at the market! This luscious pie provides the perfect showcase for seasonal organic strawberries. The filling is so creamy you will not believe it’s based in raw cashews and tofu. Easy to assemble and super yummy! Here is the seasonal strawberry recipe with a wow factor! Strawberry Mountain Pie Makes 6 to 8 servings CRUST 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan cookie crumbs or vegan graham cracker crumbs (see note) 3 to 5 heaping tablespoons sesame tahini 1½ tablespoons nondairy milk FILLING 16 ounces extra-firm regular tofu 8 ounces soft silken tofu 1⁄3 cup raw cashews 1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegan white sugar or your preferred dry sweetener TOPPING 16 ounces organic strawberries 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves 2½ teaspoons filtered or spring water Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make the crust, put the cookie crumbs, 3 heaping tablespoons tahini and 11⁄2 tablespoons nondairy milk in a medium-sized bowl and combine using a large fork or dough blender. Add more tahini until the crumbs are moistened, but still crumbly in texture (up to 5 heaping tablespoons of tahini in all). Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes. Put the pie plate on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. While the crust cools, put the extra-firm regular tofu, silken tofu, cashews and sugar in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the tofu mixture over the cooled crust. Spread in an even layer and smooth the top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the pie is slightly firm to the touch (center of the filling will still be very soft). Put the pan on a wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. While the pie bakes, trim 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch off the wide end of each strawberry. Then, when the pie is out of the oven but still warm, arrange the strawberries, flat end down, in a pleasing pattern on top of the pie, gently pressing the end of each strawberry into the filling so it stands upright. Put the preserves and water in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Spread the preserves evenly over the top of the strawberries using a pastry brush or small spoon. Refrigerate 4 to 8 hours before serving. Carefully cut the pie into slices (the filling will be soft). Stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, leftover pie will keep for about 2 days. Chef’s Note: To make cookie crumbs, put 11⁄2 to 2 cups of broken-up vegan cookies in a blender, and process to coarse crumbs. Add more cookies, as needed, to make the amount of crumbs needed for this recipe. Photo credits: David Kaplan This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
By Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. If you are looking for an easy and fabulous warm-weather salad, this tasty recipe makes a lovely addition to any festive springtime meal. Spooned into tiny parfait or champagne glasses, this colorful combo provides a refreshing change to a green salad. With a pretty presentation, and delicious flavors, Avocado Salad Parfaits are sure to please all the diners at your table throughout the spring and summer months! Avocado Salad Parfaits 1 or 2 small tomatoes or 12 to 14 grape tomatoes, diced 1½ medium avocados, peeled, pit removed and diced 1 small clove garlic, minced Juice from ½ medium lemon 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, optional Put all of the ingredients in a small bowl and gently stir to combine. Season with more salt, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before serving. To serve as a fancy first course, spoon in to pretty glasses, displayed on a decorative salad plate. This warm-weather salad is easy and fabulous! Laura Theodore is an award-winning public television personality and host of the Jazzy Vegetarian, presently available in 88% of US households. She is a vegan chef, radio host, jazz singer, and the author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics 9781937856939 and Jazzy Vegetarian 9781570672613. In 2014, Laura was honored with a “Special Achievement Taste-Award” along with the likes of Martha Stewart and Emeril; she has also been recognized by VegNews magazine with a “Totally Tubular Veggie Award.” Laura hosts the popular podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio, now in its 7th year, and has appeared on every major TV network. She writes a weekly food column for Mother Earth Living and has been featured in many highly respected news, food and lifestyle-related journals. A critically acclaimed jazz singer and songwriter her CD, Tonight's the Night, received a “Musician Magazine Award.” Laura has appeared in many plays and musicals, including the Off Broadway hit show Beehive, earning her a coveted “Backstage Bistro Award” and was honored with the Denver Critics Drama Circle Award as “Best Actress in a Musical” for her starring role as Janis Joplin in the world premiere production of Love, Janis. Photo credit: David Kaplan
Spring has Sprung with Healthy Recipes By Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. Spring is here! As weather permits, I love to grow my own herbs in containers on my deck. Herbs are also easy to grow in a small garden patch, or if you live in an apartment, a sunny window box will do. Growing your own herbs offers fresh cuttings to cook with all spring and summer long, adding depth of flavor and pizazz to your recipes. I grow herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives oregano, basil, sage, and spearmint from late April or May to early October. Using fresh herbs in your daily recipes adds great nutrition, while making your food taste delicious! This inviting Grape Tomato, Avocado and Fresh Herb Salad, was inspired by bountiful herbs from my deck garden to create a refreshing salad. Fresh basil and parsley are my “go-to” choices all season, and they are featured front-and-center in this hearty and substantial main dish salad offering. Have a happy, healthy spring! Grape Tomato, Avocado and Fresh Herb Salad Makes 2 to 4 Servings Ease-Factor: Level 1 1 cup cooked and chilled black beans, drained and rinsed (canned are fine!) 8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved 2 medium avocados, seeded, peeled and cubed ¼ cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste Several grinds of freshly ground pepper, to taste Put all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss very gently to combine. Let stand 15 minutes to marry the flavors. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve. Photos by David Kaplan "Spring has Sprung with Healthy Recipes" has been brought to you by CPG News & Information.
The Real Science for Younger Skin that Cosmetics Companies Don't Want You to Know ~ Michelle Lee, author of The Young Skin Diet, Salut Studio, April 2016 $2 billion. Every single year. That’s what Americans spend on anti-aging treatments, according to market research by Mintel Group. $2,000,000,000. Each and every year. To put that number into perspective, consider that the total economic output for the Central American country of Belize - that is, all the goods, services, government programs, investments and international trade generated by the country in an entire year - is a bit less. Given how much we spend on all these creams, serums, ointments and pills, most of which are aimed at resolving skin issues, you’d think all our concerns over fine lines, wrinkles, pores, dryness, discoloration and sagging would be long gone. For the overwhelming majority of us, that simply isn’t the case. Why is it that billions of dollars each year can’t solve skin aging problems that are seemingly inevitable? For one, it’s because the creams and pills don’t really address the underlying causes of skin aging. At best, they cover things up or engage in a sort of horse trading: short-term “results” at the expense of long-term skin health. Lots of so-called anti-aging products simply don’t work. Some are entirely ineffectual, and some can even damage your skin. Take products containing tea tree oil, for instance. Tea tree oil seems to be everywhere these days, touted as hydrating, soothing and natural. Well, natural it may be. But soothing it most certainly is not. Tea tree oil is actually a noted skin irritant that can lead to swelling, blistering and redness. I know. I’ve been there with tea tree oil. It’s something best avoided altogether for youthful skin. So where does this leave us? We want our skin’s youthful glow back. We want a clear complexion, smoothness and suppleness. We want to look younger and healthier. My research for The Young Skin Diet revealed the very best way to rejuvenate skin. It’s not commercial creams or prescription drugs. It’s the simple, elegant biochemistry of a strategically assembled diet. So let’s connect the two threads: Are there foods we can eat that give us access to the same “active ingredients” that expensive and risky commercial or prescription products do? Absolutely. And, in fact, the foods do it much better. There are chemicals found in common anti-aging serums and creams that can be important parts of a regimen for younger skin if - and only if - consumed internally as food, and not if applied externally. Hyaluronic acid is one. Hyaluronic acid is a featured active ingredient in products being hawked by several big-name cosmetics companies that promise their creams will hydrate your skin and leave it smoother and younger looking. The products are chic and expensive and very likely to leave you wondering why you didn’t just spend all that money on a tropical vacation to Belize. Or, if not a vacation, then at least a can or two of chickpeas. Chickpeas naturally provide hyaluronic acid, and they do so in a way that allows the chemical to work for your skin - rather than against it. When eaten, hyaluronic acid helps build collagen. And, when eaten, it does promote sustainable, long-term skin hydration. Articles outlining these processes appear in scholarly journals including Wound Repair and Regeneration, detailing the biological impacts of hyaluronic acid in skin. The best results for skin occur with hyaluronic acid when it’s ingested. Here’s why. The hydration effect of hyaluronic acid is brought on because the chemical is a humectant that draws moisture from its environment toward it. This property is excellent for skin when hyaluronic acid arrives internally via the diet since it ushers water toward the inner layers of the skin and plumps skin’s appearance. When applied to the skin externally, though, hyaluronic acid can pull moisture away from the deeper skin layers toward the skin’s surface. That moisture quickly evaporates, leaving only a transitory skin-smoothing benefit that ultimately dries out the skin’s inner layers. Which paves the way for redness, inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles over time. So hyaluronic acid is a great example of why it’s simply better to eat good foods than slather on costly creams. Plus, when derived from chickpeas, the hyaluronic acid gets delivered to the skin along with a dose of silica that boosts collagen-building efforts. There are other chemicals found in costly - often prescription - treatments that also can be obtained from foods to produce great results for skin. Arbutin is a good example since both blueberries and expensive creams are rich in the chemical. Arbutin is a powerful skin lightener that reduces skin pigmentation inconsistencies. As detailed in a 2015 paper published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, arbutin is similar in structure (and convertible) to hydroquinone, the active ingredient in various skin-lightening creams. Of course, arbutin consumed courtesy of blueberries entails none of the preservatives or additives found in cosmetic creams, and the amount of arbutin/hydroquinone put to work in the skin when ingested is carefully regulated by your body’s individual biochemistry (i.e., you won’t overload your skin and suffer unintended side-effects that can result from the creams). Blueberries taste a lot better too. The point of all this is that the right selections of foods can provide many of the same “active ingredients” as costly ointments and treatments - only with better results and no nasty side-effects. More broadly, the right foods, when used, combined and prepared strategically, can accelerate exfoliation, build collagen and elastin, soften lines and wrinkles, brighten the complexion, undo UV damage and prevent further sun damage, rebalance hormones that affect skin, and provide alpha-hydroxy acids that peel away unattractive and aged skin, among many other things. They do all this holistically, naturally, without side-effects, inexpensively and in a way that builds great overall health along with more youthful skin. Rather than slather your skin in risky and expensive commercial anti-aging treatments, just sneak a few great-skin foods into your diet. Save your cash. And jet off to Belize for some snorkeling. To receive more information on how to have and maintain younger skin, pick up a copy of Michelle's newest book, The Young Skin Diet today! Young Skin Diet
A great way to celebrate National Pound Cake day is with this vegan alternative by Laura Theodore; an inviting vegan chocolate chip, raisin and oatmeal loaf cake. For more delicious vegan recipes pick up a copy of “Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease.” CHOCOLATE CHIP, RAISIN and OATMEAL LOAF CAKE Makes 12 slices Need a treat, but want it to be filling too? This lively loaf makes a wonderful treat when you're seeking something sweet, but you want health benefits too! With a pop of chocolate nestled in a batter of whole wheat flour, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and raisins, this quick loaf will truly satisfy. Serve slathered with your favorite preserves or bit of nut butter for a satisfying snack. 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 1 cup plus 1½ tablespoons rolled oats 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/3 cup vegan white sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 cup raisins 1/3 cup vegan (dairy free) dark chocolate chips, (70% or 85% cacao) 1/3 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds 1½ cups nondairy, coconut milk beverage, (or your preferred nondairy milk) plus more as needed Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving a 1½ -inch overhang on the two long sides of the pan. Put the whole wheat flour, 1 cup rolled oats, and baking powder in a large bowl, and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the sugar and cinnamon, and stir with the whisk to combine. Stir in the raisins, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds, and stir to combine. Add the coconut beverage and stir until well blended, adding a bit more coconut beverage, as needed, if the mixture seems dry. Batter will be thick. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle 1½ tablespoons of rolled oats evenly over the top of the bread. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of the bread is firm, slightly golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Put the bread on a wire rack and let cool for five minutes. Using the parchment paper “wings,” carefully lift the bread from the pan and put it on the wire rack. Carefully peel back the paper from the sides of the bread and let cool an additional 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm, or wrap tightly, refrigerate, and serve cold. Wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator, bread will keep for 3 days. Photo by Laura Theodore. Recipe taken from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease. Reproduced by kind permission of Laura Theodore. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.
Over the years many people have asked if I had any suggestions for prepping for cancer surgery. And here’s my response: As for as the surgery itself or its outcome . . . I have no advice (I’m not a surgeon). But as far as some of those practical matters—those items a person might want to pack or make ready upon return to the real world—I have plenty of advice. Becky & Todd Outcalt But let’s just focus on the return home. What should you anticipate? What might you need? A brief list here might include: Additional pillows for the bed, comforters, blankets, etc. A bell by the bed (haven’t you always wanted to ring one?) Foods in the fridge that will fit the diet provided by your doctor (think ahead) Plenty of non-alcoholic drink choices Favorite reading material & reading glasses Favorite movies on DVD or other in a comfortable viewing area Space for therapy exercises (do you need to clear a space?) Special bath soaps or antibiotics approved by the doctor Preparing the room so you have quiet space Favorite scents Favorite music Allowing yourself space and time to recover (think naps and in-home help) Stationery, pens, postage stamps Devotional material or other spiritual helps This list will help you to get started, but you can certainly add other items, by preference. Once you make your list and check it twice you are certain to be well-prepared for any contingency as you recover from surgery. ~Todd Outcalt Todd is the author of Husband's Guide to Breast Cancer. He has counseled hundreds of people through cancer and beyond and served as care-giver to his wife of thirty-years during her battle and recovery from breast cancer. The book includes first-person accounts from men who have walked the walk, and quick tips in each chapter, this book speaks to the practical side of a man's care, and reveals how he can use his strengths to help the woman he loves. This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
By Todd Outcalt, author of Husband's Guide to Breast Cancer Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, or who has journeyed with a loved one through cancer, can attest to the surprising network of supporters. In fact, I’ve heard some people describe their support network in almost “contagious” terms—with friends and neighbors who become feverish in their willingness to help. Others describe this support as “mind-blowing” or “miraculous.” Some cancer patients even receive phone calls and emails and letters from perfect strangers. Indeed, the cancer support network is more than skin deep. There are literally millions of people out there—from nurses to bloggers, from co-workers to organizers—who are on the ready to jump in with advice, encouragement and practical know-how. Those who have made a breast cancer journey themselves are especially willing to help other women in their neighborhoods or circles of influence. All a person has to do is ask. Is cancer support contagious? There is certainly a contagious spirit when it comes to helping a neighbor in need. Just witness the line of volunteers every time there is a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood or hurricane. People jump to. They show up. They bring food. Cancer is no different. There is a wider network than some might believe. And when it comes to beating cancer—having a solid network of supporters is one of the most important ingredients in the healing. Loners don’t do nearly as well as those who are surrounded by love and encouragement. People have a way of helping and healing each other. So . . . before you come to the conclusion that breast cancer isn’t contagious—think again. It just might be. Especially if a person is looking for science that is more than skin deep. Gratitude, encouragement, helpfulness—these things count for a great deal more than we might think. And, though they can’t be found in a bottle, they are closer than one might think. All for the asking. Becky & Todd Outcalt Todd has helped hundreds of people through cancer and beyond, including his own wife, Becky, of thirty-years. His also the author of over twenty books. Is Cancer Support Contagious has been presented to you by CPG News and Information Services.
By Michelle Lee, author of Living Luxe Gluten-Free Football season's just around the corner...so don't let Deflategate take the wind out of your snacking sails! Try these gluten-free Buffalo Tenders for full-blown flavor and prep so easy even Roger Goodell could make 'em! NO BONES ABOUT ‘EM BUFFALO TENDERS SAUCE 6+ tbsp. hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s, but just use your favorite allergy-friendly hot sauce) 4 tsp. lactose-free butter, room temperature (I like Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread) 1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar Cayenne pepper (to taste) Garlic powder (to taste) TENDERS ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (I like Glutino Original Bagel Chips, crushed) 1 tsp. ground black pepper ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. smoked paprika 1 cup canola oil 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders 1 egg, lightly beaten in a wide, shallow bowl STEPS 1. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. 2. Mix flour, breadcrumbs, pepper, salt, and paprika in a wide, shallow bowl or plate and set aside. 3. In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Working in batches, dredge chicken in egg and then in flour and breadcrumb mixture. Place coated chicken in skillet and cook until outsides of chicken are dark brown and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. 4. Place cooked chicken pieces on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 5. When all tenders have been cooked, pour sauce over tenders and toss to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately. TIP If you’re not a fan of hot sauce, prepare tenders according to the recipe and use a gluten-free dipping sauce, such as Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili Sauce or Trader Joe’s Mango Chutney, in place of the hot sauce. Barbecue sauce is a great option as well. Recipe from Living Luxe Gluten Free (Salut Studio, 2015). Presented to you by CPG News & Information