this pod’s 4 u :)

cardamom

In focusing on spices for health and wellness, I would be remiss not to mention cardamom. This uniquely flavoured and delicate native spice from India and Nepal is growing more and more in popularity, (in fact, Starbucks has introduced a lovely Cardamom Latte this fall that’s already a ‘fave’ of mine). If you aren’t familiar with this unassuming ‘pod’ its worth looking into.

Available in pods or as a crushed spice, I like adding a pod or two to a cup of steaming black tea. Some people find cardamom minty in flavour, I find it slightly smoky and earthy, a cross between mint and vanilla. Dig around to discover and learn more about cardamom’s goodness. Used in traditional medicine for many years, this spice has valuable antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory benefits, (which is more than enough to make me want to keep it in my spice shelf!) Use and experiment with cardamom for both savoury or dessert preparations, and visit Healthline’s list of cardamom benefits or additional highlights at Organic Facts.net.

AllRecipes.com  has a marvellous line-up of cardamom-featuring recipes to try,  including two  I absolutely love – Chicken Korma (or for a delightful black tea or coffee  ‘dunking’ treat), Cardamom and Espresso Chocolate Cookies.

Image: epicurean.com

 

 

 

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Spice it up!

chiliDamp weather and cooler temperatures…snow’s just around the corner in Canada’s mid-west. No better time to focus on preparing homey comfort foods, stews, and broths. As you do so, think about adding spicy elements to meals to boost and strengthen your immune system. I love brightening up a rainy fall day with a hearty bowl of chicken soup. If you’re on the go and can’t find time to make broth, there are plenty of great low-salt brands available, packaged or in tetra packs. I add steamed veggies and a  peppery chili or “chilli” paste or lemongrass paste just before removing hot soup from the stove.

Both chili paste or lemongrass add warmth and extra flavour while providing a boost to your immune system. My favourite brand is Gourmet Garden. Browse the company’s website by herb or spice for recipes. These amazing Aussie products are available in many fresh produce and grocery aisles across North America — a fabulous import from Down Under…

I also cannot say enough about the importance of investing in your wellness by choosing quality nutritionals. Vitamins C and D are a must during fall and winter, especially in northern climes. I recommend Proflavanol®C-100 or Proglucamune® from Usana. The benefits of cellular science are many and will help keep your body primed to ward off nasty colds, flus and virus strains.

Enjoy a bright new season of wellness…warmth…and all things good

Image: openwalls.com

Salt…for all seasons

selWe’ve all heard of people who are solid and reliable and referred to as the “salt of the earth“. It’s kudos to them, for without question salt is one of the world’s humblest, most  valuable gifts. Esteemed for centuries, common table salt (or NaCl as it’s referred to chemically), is a savoury flavour ‘must’. Today, discreet salt-seekers are prone to choosing sea salt or rock salt (like Himalayan pink salt) (my favorites). Salt derived from the sea or ground from a rock salt like Himalayan salt, can deliver health-boosting trace minerals or elements like potassium, magnesium, zinc and calcium, while not ‘taking over’ food but adding more delicate flavour than regular iodized salt. Sprinkle some on a bowl of plain popped corn or in your next stir-fry.  EcoWatch and Healthline provide a good overview of various salts on the market and what to expect in terms of benefits.

Aside from salts we eat, mineral salt blends for aching muscles and a home-spa treatment year-round are a great health treat. Look for natural blends and beauty products that provide rich minerals directly from renowned sites like Israel’s Dead Sea, (I love Ahava products). The Body Shop’s Mediterranean Sea Salt Body Scrub is another awesome body treat. Don’t write off salt. Discover its goodness — for mind, body and soul…

image: png.net

 

Oh Cotton…

coton‘sleep’ is essential, but a great sleep is priceless. There’s nothing worse than not getting quality zzz’s.  Although we all have different biorhythms (and some people seem to need less sleep than others), most scientific/wellness reports indicate that getting a solid night’s sleep (at least 7 hours) is invaluable for overall long-term health.

Calcium and D3 and high science core minerals can support a good night’s sleep, (and remember all supplements work best with a healthy diet). I recommend taking mineral supplements daily, and if you’re over 50, a Cal-D3 with your evening meal. For a probiotic boost overnight, take Cal-D3 before bedtime with a glass of plain kefir or 1/2 c. yogurt. Keep in mind — no great night’s sleep is complete without a breathable high-quality mattress and pillows which properly support rest and body alignment. Invest wisely.

And then —there’s bedding.  While synthetics and bamboo/cotton blends are popular because of wrinkle-free easy care, cotton is my #1 choice. TomorrowSleep.com  offers interesting info on microfiber vs cotton bedding. Last but not least, if you have an outdoor clothesline, there’s nothing better than air-drying or freshening your sheets and quilts outdoors, esp. during winter, for an ozone-scented sleep from wash to wash. Tip: Change your bedding weekly. Live well, sleep well, (sweet dreams 🙂 )

Image: etsy.com

Brainy beauties…

Lavender Oil And Lavender Flowers On White BackgroundIf you’ve already discovered the wonder of essential oils you’ll understand why I call them ‘brainy beauties’. Essential oils are a wonderful and brilliant way to enhance natural healing and wholeness in your daily wellness lifestyle. Essential oils (or ‘E’ for ‘everything’ oils as I call them) are used in many natural beauty products and are worth investing time and money to enjoy and explore the benefits of use.

Dr. Axe’s website provides one of the best overviews in terms of benefits. I’ve been busy lately looking into blends that will help the lymphatic system and strengthen the immune system. We can all use more of that with environmental and other stressors impacting our lives. Both Dr. Axe and websites like mindbodygreen.com offer great suggestions for basic essential oils to have in your wellness arsenal. Do your homework to avoid sensitivities and a good rule of thumb – never use these oils directly on the skin.

Natural Living Ideas recommends a few oils to start out with and recommends some trustworthy quality brands. I find it fun to shop around for unique blends and to experiment making my own.  Here’s a simple restorative body oil to make easily at home (great after exercise or to reduce inflammation). Pour 1 c. of coconut oil and 1/4 c. sweet almond oil into a clean glass bottle with a tightly closing lid. Add 20 drops of frankincense and 20 of sweet orange or mandarin essential oil. Shake well and use regularly to enjoy fullest benefits. Essential oils take time to work and absorb with your body. Be patient with essential oils. Benefits are best realized over time. Stay happy and well!

image: wallpapersafari.com

 

Ah–hhh, black tea

black tea

No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’, stress is tough on our bodies. Whether it’s work/life-related, environmental or otherwise,  stress can do a number on our immune systems.  Even if you’re careful to hydrate, eat healthy, supplement with quality nutritionals, and make a regular effort to exercise and get a good night’s sleep,  life can sometimes flip into overdrive (even with ‘good stress’) causing immune system ‘overload’ and making you more vulnerable to viruses, flus and colds.  To get a jump start on stress while doing all the great things you do to stay healthy, try taking advantage of the health benefits of black tea.  Ahhh—hh, black tea.

One of my favorites is ‘Paris’ blend by Harney & Sons — (crazy about the hint of caramel, black currant and vanilla). To brew a perfect cup, bring water to the boil, fill your tea mug or teapot with hot water to insulate warm it up, then pour out the hot water, and fill again with ‘to the boil’ (never boiling) water, and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. I tend to use tea bags for convenience, but  infused loose tea is always amazing (try one of David’s Teas fun & creative infusers). Infusing brings out tea’s finer notes. Enjoy black or with a non-dairy creamer. I find a cup of black tea easily takes the chill out of cool weather while adding a healthy boost for your immune system (check out 25 impressive healthy benefits of black tea at OrganicFacts.net). If caffeine’s a concern — look for decaf varieties. Love life , love tea.

Image: Rivertea.com

go, go, GO…

gogo-quinoawelcome to foodie wellnessAs a lover of all food, I often adapt recipes to include a ton of veggies, pulses, legumes and super grains in my meal plans. A highly-energizing super-grain dish to prepare in under 30 minutes is falafel (croquettes) using organic quinoa and amaranth flours. Btw — these falafel store great in the refrigerator for 2-3 days & may freeze well too (but I have yet to keep them on hand to find out).

To prepare from scratch, select finely-ground organic quinoa and amaranth flours, (3 parts to one) and add turmeric, garlic powder, garlic scape/sea salt blend, and other seasonings to taste. For convenience, I prefer using an excellent ‘on the go’ ready-blend — ‘Go Go Quinoa Burger Mix’.  (available in both US and Canada). Go-Go’s a fair trade company with super grains directly sourced from Bolivia. Their website features incredible recipes, including desserts and monthly features like a Mediterranean Falafel Bowl.  To prepare from mix, follow package directions, adding warm water. Flour should be just moist enough to easily form golf-ball-sized falafel. Fry for 3-5 minutes in a ceramic non-stick pan (I never deep-fry), using 3 – 5 TBSP coconut or olive oil. Turn and remove from heat when golden brown. Before falafel are done try some spice and sizzle by adding a dash of coconut aminos (instead of soy sauce), green chili Tabasco and red chili paste. And…you’re ready to… go, go, GO. Keep loving & enjoying great food.

image (GoGoQuinoa.com)