Category Archives: Naturally Healthy

Naturally Purposeful: An Interview with Andrea Shields Nunez

Do you hate your job?  Do you feel like you are living your life with purpose?  Just thinking about these questions make your head and heart ache with frustration?  Maybe it is time to liberate your career with Andrea Shields Nunez!

Andrea Shields Nunez is a Career Liberation Coach from Los Angeles, CA, who works with people all over the United States. Andrea helps folks pinpoint what they are passionate about and develop a plan to move toward their goals.

You are a Career Liberation Coach.  Would you explain what that is and how your approach is different than other coaches?

Career liberation is all about freeing yourself of anything that feels out of alignment with who you are and what you want your life to be. Anyone in a job that doesn’t reflect their values; doesn’t allow them to fully express themselves; doesn’t provide them with the fulfillment and sense of meaning they desire, knows what this lack of alignment feels like and it’s not good!

I help people liberate themselves in a very real and practical sense because I come at it from the career perspective but the work I do with my clients is very deep and, of course, ends up touching all aspects of their lives. I think this is the differentiator—I’m not a traditional career coach whose focus is on resumes and interview skills. I’m all about holistic, life changing career transitions, specializing in people who want to do—or are already doing—something entrepreneurial.

You worked for many years as an Executive Recruiter. How did you transition into coaching?

I worked at a global executive search firm for many years and was unhappy for most of that time. When I started, I thought this was finally that career soulmate I had been looking for all my adult life—the place I would stay and build my career in a significant way. But I transferred offices early on and the growth opportunities just didn’t exist in the new office. It took me YEARS to realize and accept this.

When it became clear to me that if I wanted to do something I cared about, that made me feel whole and aligned, it was going to have to be something I created for myself. Well, that’s when things really clicked for me. I took a lot of classes; went to workshops; read a gajillion books and hired a coach.

It was at her suggestion that I start working with people in the career space. It was an area that I had experience and interest in. I had always been the person, friends and family came to for career advice but I felt wholly inadequate to help people FOR REAL. (Andrea laughs) I felt like this was clearly a problem area for me, since I didn’t feel like I had ever found The One. How could I help other people get there when I hadn’t myself? She pointed out that all my years of searching, struggle and angst over my career, the circuitous path with all the crazy left turns—it was all preparation to help other people navigate it more easily. This made sense to me but I was still unsure, so I coached some people for free to try it out and LOVED it. It just felt like home, like this was the one I was waiting for.  After coaching on the side -during my commute, lunches and late at night- for two years, I was able to leave my job and devote myself to my business full-time earlier this year.

I have to ask you…You have a VERY honest blog and YouTube Channel.  You made it clear before you left your full-time job that you wanted to leave.  Were you ever concerned about being called out about that at work?

(Andrea gives a little  laugh) You know….I never really worried about it that much. I’m sure a part of me felt like it might be a gift to get called out and possibly fired. It certainly crossed my mind but I guess I didn’t care, to be honest. Once I tapped into the deep passion I have for this work, that’s where all of my focus and energy went. I wasn’t going to censor myself or hold back in anyway. I don’t even think I could have. It was like a dam burst or something—there was just no stopping me.

That said, I realize this is not necessarily a model for how other people should go about it. Everyone’s situation is unique and one of the most important things I work with my clients on is making their transition in a safe way. I’m a risk-taker by nature with a very overdeveloped rebellious streak! So, this was my path but it need not, and probably should not, be someone-else’s.

Do you think it is ever too late for someone to make a MAJOR career change or start a business?

I really don’t. People can do amazing things when they choose to. All sorts of previously unknown things can align when a person simply decides, “I’m doing this!” Now, can you dance the lead in “Swan Lake” if you’re 47 and have never had a ballet lesson? Not for the ABT, but I do believe there is a way to get some part of that dream fulfilled. It really becomes about deconstructing it and finding out what piece of that would be most fulfilling to you. What I call uncovering the essential elements of a career or business that would make you happy. It’s never too late for that, right??

Yes, I agree!

Reading through the testimonials on your website, there are many references to your excellent listening skills, empathy and intuition.  Do you feel like you have an uncanny ability to help people gain clarity and map out a new career course for themselves?

I’ve always been an observer, a listener. I’m a pretty quiet, reserved person. So that lends itself to hanging back and surveying the scene a lot, which has helped me learn an awful lot about people. I’ve also always trusted my intuition completely and I think that trust has made it stronger and more easily accessible to me. The combination of those things, along with a deeply ingrained desire to serve and make a difference…I think those all help, of course, but really, when a person is ready, they are ready. My role is about supporting them, sometimes challenging them, but always, always about getting them to listen to themselves as intently as I am listening to them.

When people know they are being heard and validated, things start to shift for them in big ways. What previously felt murky and unimaginable becomes crystal clear and totally doable. All because someone modeled for them how to listen to their deepest wants and needs. It’s powerful stuff. This is why I love coaching!

Recent surveys have revealed that most employees are very unhappy in their jobs.  Why do you think this is?

We are in a transitional place right now. The traditional Western career path: go to school, get a job; stay there until retirement and then you finally get to go enjoy your life—that’s just gone, if it ever truly existed. Yet, many of our institutions, corporations, public employers, they’re all still stuck in this model that isn’t working for most people.

Very few working people are encouraged to be creative, to take risks, to fail. We all KNOW that failure is a huge part of the learning process—it’s what makes the greats great, but if you fail in the workplace you’re screwed! So people can’t be human at work. They can’t bring their whole selves. They can’t speak their minds. They have to swallow a criminal amount of shit just to get through their workdays. They’re spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting. Their wages are stagnant….I could go on and on and ON about this, but the bottom line is that people are unhappy because they don’t get to do anything they actually want to do, anything that’s meaningful to them.

The result is that we have 80% of American workers who are disengaged at work. Honestly, I consider this a safety issue, a health hazard and a cultural crisis all rolled into one. And with numbers that high, it affects everyone. Do you want your kid’s teacher to be disengaged? The doctor treating someone you love? The accountant doing your taxes? The pilot flying your plane? This is not just about fluffy “do you what you love” platitudes, this is a real problem with real consequences.

This is the “why” behind my work. I believe the world would be a safer, more peaceful, tolerant place if more people were doing work they care about. If more people are happy, thriving and enjoying themselves at work every day, how can it not be?

“Do what makes you happy” is advice you believe in though.  You’ve put in writing! How can people begin to shift their thinking to feel like it is actually possible for them to have a career that actually brings them happiness?

(Andrea Laughs) Yes, I just called it a fluffy platitude, but I truly do believe this!

One easy suggestion I always make is to talk to people who are doing something they love. Chances are they haven’t always been, so find out what shifted for them. Open yourself up to being inspired rather than envious and learn about how they made the shift. Get really curious about this and start surrounding yourself with people who have done it, and the belief that you can too, will start to rub off on you. I promise!

Beyond that, all it really takes to begin the shift is a desire for things to be different and a willingness to entertain the possibility. Us coaches love to use visioning as a tool to help people see what’s possible for them. Sometimes people have a beautiful, heartfelt vision for what they want their life to be like but it feels so far away that it may as well be a fairy tale. We help them play the “what if?” game, as in, “What if that could be your life? What’s one step you could take today to bring you closer to that vision?” And you build on that day by day, month by month until you know it’s possible because you’re in the process of making it happen!

You are very clear on people establishing “non-negotiables” for their career.  Would you explain this practice and why it is important?

What I call career non-negotiables are 3-5 must-haves for a career that makes you happy. Some people might be able to rattle things off fairly quickly, but it’s important to give this some thought and to go for depth; because what you’re using them for is to weed out anything that doesn’t include ALL of your non-negotiables. It’s a focusing tool, essentially. It allows you to see everything that doesn’t include these things, as the distractions that they are, and focus your attention on the things that have the highest probability of allowing you to be happy. My clients love this!

To figure out what yours are: do a job history inventory, noting what you liked and didn’t like about every job you’ve ever had. Yep, all of them! Then, think about what you want your daily life to look like. Then combine what you’ve come up with and look for themes. You want them to be so meaningful to you, that holding out until you can get them, doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Because it’s not—it’s an act of self-care.

(For a more detailed write up of the process, you can check out this article Andrea wrote for The Daily Muse.)

Is there any other advice or information you would like to share with people who are looking for their passion?

I talk to a lot of people who know they’re not doing something they’re passionate about but don’t know what would stoke their passions. I was one of those people for a long time. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas. I had lots of ideas! I was just too afraid to move forward with any of them. I would play it all out in my head and give it up as impossible before I even started. Until the one time I didn’t. And now I’ve left my job and have a business I’m beyond passionate about!

There were many reasons why it was different this last time but the most important one was that I took action on it, rather than just running through it in my head. I went out and got some clients and I coached them. I often tell people it doesn’t matter which idea, which passion you choose, just pick one and DO SOMETHING! All the clarity; all the growth; all the FUN starts to happen, once you start taking action. So get to it!

Since my blog is about being healthy and happy in a natural way, would you share what role nature plays in your life?

Nature and natural living are hugely important to me. I live in a big city, so I have to make special efforts to get out of my car and go to the beach or the hike in the hills, but it pays dividends when I do. I have high expectations of myself and push pretty hard sometimes. Taking time to get outside and look at the sky or even just walking my puppy around our neighborhood and noticing all the different shrubs and trees is meditative for me and helps me decompress. It’s really a vital part of being able to get everything done.

I’m also very into clean eating (most of the time!) and creating my own natural products, which is one of the reasons I LOVE your blog! I’m making your cashew parm today, in fact! It all goes back to alignment. When I think about what I want my life to be, healthy is obviously a huge part of that. So, I do the things I think will put me on that path; just as I coach my clients to do in their careers and as  do in my own work.

Ready to find out more about Andrea Shields Nunez and how to liberate your career? She is offering a free 60 minute session. Head over to her website, http://www.andreashieldsnunez.com/ for more information.

Are you happy with your career? Do you feel like there is something MORE you’re supposed to be doing? Did anything Andrea say resonate with you? Please leave me a reply in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

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Naturally Confident: 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days MISSION COMPLETED!

I took a training class about six months after I fell. We were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted our lives to look like within a certain time frame. I was completely flummoxed. I really didn’t know what to draw. I did the best I could. When the time was up, I looked around the room at other people’s drawings. They were crowded with people, new houses, where they wanted to travel to and major life events.

When I looked back at my own, I saw myself sitting alone on a yoga mat with my eyes closed in meditation. The only other thing on my drawing was a smile with dollar signs around it.  Dental reconstruction has been foremost in my mind.  If I had more time I probably would have drawn my dog Chauncy sitting next to me. Clearly, after falling down the stairs and the hurricane, I had gotten out of the practice of setting goals.

Going through major life events can give you valuable insights. I mentioned before that while I was driving in the hurricane that I had a feeling of peace, knowing that as long as Chauncy and I could safely get to our destination; I was okay with losing what was back at my apartment. There is a flip side to that though, there is an almost constant awareness that anything and everything can be taken from you at any second. That chilling realization will spur some people into immediate, hard-core, relentless action and make other people VERY cautious. I fall into the second camp. (I always hold the handrail now!)

“Self-confidence grows every time you keep a promise to yourself.”

– Asha Dornfest

I think this challenge of writing and putting up a new blog post every day for the month of August has been really good for me. I set a goal for myself and followed through on it. While I didn’t cure cancer or do anything similarly monumental, I did do something that wasn’t exactly easy either. Posting every day with my job and commuting schedule, challenged me. Sometimes, other things like my yoga practice were sacrificed in order to keep this promise to myself.

I learned that I could rise to the challenge and meet it. I also learned that I do need to write every day. I learned that I do not want to post what I write EVERY day. I want more time for editing, proofreading and polishing my work. I also want to do other types of writing. I learned that it doesn’t matter what response I get, it’s about committing to the work, trusting that what comes out is enough and then following through.

My new plan (Ooo, look who has a plan!) is to post weekly. I may post more often than that but I feel comfortable that I can keep to that schedule and maintain a satisfactory degree of quality in my writing.

I want to thank all of you who have been reading my posts during this August Adventure Post-a-day Blogging Challenge. I have received some really wonderful support throughout this process and I am very grateful!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Adjusted: Treating Neck Pain (Part 1)

Part I: The Problem

My neck has been bothersome for a very long time… decades really.  Goodness knows why I never really did anything about it. I just got used to being stiff or sore and having tight shoulders.  Yoga always helped.  I just explained away the occasional tingles in my fingers as a result of my bag being too heavy.

After I fell in March of 2013, my neck issues became significantly worse.  I had so many other things to worry about, like how to get my mouth put back together, I couldn’t handle that too.  I just figured with yoga and time, it would improve.  It always did before.  Not this time.  By March of this year, it caused me so much pain and discomfort, I could barely stand it. It would start in the left side of my neck and radiate up to my temple and down my shoulder.  Sometimes, I even felt it in my fingers.  Desperate for some relief, I found a chiropractor who took my health insurance.

My first appointment was an eye-opener.  My new chiropractor spent about an hour and 20 minutes with me.  I was impressed by how thorough he was. He asked me a lot of questions about and in addition to the paperwork I filled out.  He observed my standing and sitting posture.  He weighed me to see if I put more weight on one foot than the other (I do…10 pounds.)  He checked the sensitivity on both sides of my body and compared one side to the other.  He checked my spinal alignment and flexibility.  He took several X-rays of my neck.  He had been cracking jokes and telling stories while he worked but when he saw the X-rays, he looked concerned and grew quiet.

He didn’t want to give me a full diagnosis until after he got my MRI from the hospital but he showed me the X-ray and pointed at three of my vertebrae.  “You see how jagged those three are compared to the others?”  I did.  He went on to explain that he never saw that much damage in someone as young as I was and it couldn’t have been caused by just the fall.  Since he mentioned it, I remembered older injuries: a car accident at 17.  A cyst had been removed from my neck as baby.  Oh yeah, I had been born with a broken collar bone!

My first adjustment was subtle.  He wanted to do a full work-up before he put a treatment plan together for me but it was obvious I was suffering.  He wanted me to be more comfortable.  I can’t say that first appointment or even the first several were like a miracle fix.  I had a lot of damage and it was going to take some time to reverse.  I felt enough of a shift though that I knew I was on the right track.

The MRI revealed a bulging disc and two herniated discs.  One of the hernias even had its own little hernia.  The discs were pressing on the surrounding nerves, creating the radiating pain, intermittent numbness and tingling. The X-ray had, as mentioned, shown the three degenerated vertebrae.  Essentially, I have spinal arthritis due to injury.  The overall functionality of my neck was at about 65%.  Suffice it to say, my neck was (pardon my French) fucked up!  Luckily, I do have a knack for finding very confident, competent practitioners. My chiropractor felt certain he could get me back up to 90-95% functionality and relieve the pain.

To be continued….

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Cranky: Almost there… Why Don’t I Feel Like It?

I am coming into the home stretch of my August Adventure Blogging Challenge.  Challenged is how I feel at the moment…part of me would like to stop now.  I’m at the point where if Burgess Meredith were my coach, he would be giving me a pep talk about having heart.

The odd part is that I don’t have writer’s block exactly.  I still have a bunch of ideas jotted down.  I just find myself staring at them and not knowing exactly how I want to frame them in a post.  Every time an idea starts to take shape, a big cranky baby inside me slaps it down with a big, “NO!”  Then I start to think about other things I want to do like make jewelry, practice yoga or go walk on the beach.  Then I start to question,”Why did I publicly committ myself to this challenge again?”

“Why is this happening when I am so close,” I ask myself.  I think it is the other side of resistance, the dark side.  I mentioned last week in Naturally Balanced: Half-way Check-in and Knowing When to Take Five that feeling resistant can be fatigue or a sign that something is wrong but I don’t think that is what is going on here.  I wrote in Naturally Determined: So Long Procrastination! that while I work hard at not letting other people down, I have often fallen short on meeting personal goals and keeping promises to myself.  What I have going on here is one bad habit!

Gay Hendricks wrote in The Big Leap (Highly recommend it, by the way)  about how we all have an upper limit that we have unconsciously set for ourselves. We are like a dog who is used to being chained.  Even when we’re no longer tethered, we will not go beyond the area that the chain once imposed on us.  When we butt up again this self-imposed limitation, many of us will fall back instead of jumping up to the next level.  It’s a mentality that keeps us stuck in our comfort zone.  Oddly, many of us do not even find our comfort zones all that comfortable but the comfort is in the known versus the unknown.  The devil you know…

I don’t know what’s going to happen after I complete this challenge.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe something great.  Maybe something in-between.  However, I do know, if nothing else, I will complete it!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Balanced: Halfway Check-in and Knowing When to Take Five

Fifteen blog posts in fifteen days! That is not bad at all. I am going to call this the half-way mark even though the month has 31 days in it. I figure it is the closest you can get without going over.

Curious thing started to set in the last couple of days: fatigue. Fatigue and injury are probably the only two legitimate reasons to stop or slow down when you are up against a challenge or establishing a new practice. Thankfully, I am only dealing with fatigue.

Fatigue and I are no strangers. I have mentioned in earlier blog entries that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was a big part of why I became interested in learning about health and wellness. One of the things I have learned how to do; is pay attention to what is going on with my body, mind and spirit, to determine whether when I start feeling resistant, if I merely being lazy or if I am truly fatigued.

When we got let out of work a little early yesterday, my first thought was, “great, I can get started on my writing tonight then instead of tomorrow. My immediate bodily reaction to that thought was dread and a profound heaviness. Now to be clear, I am not tired of writing. I still currently have a lot of ideas jotted down. However the very thought of doing it yesterday just overwhelmed me. I knew then it was time to take a time out and relax for the evening.

Writing is a sedentary activity. So, the idea that it can be exhausting at all in a way sounds ridiculous but that’s actually why it can be exhausting. Sitting, as I wrote about in Naturally Fit: Keep It Moving… So, You CAN Keep It Moving!, for prolonged periods of time is terrible for the body! I have been doing a lot of sitting lately at work and at home. Additionally, I think probably what has been really getting to me is staring at a computer screen every day for hours on end between my job and increased writing practice.

Years ago, I might have been tempted to push through and not lose the extra time. I don’t do that anymore. More importantly, there was no reason to be so aggressive with myself. I was already on track; I didn’t need to get ahead.

I think we are far too willing to sacrifice our health and well-being here in the United States in order to gain approval or money or whatever it is that we think will make us somehow better in that moment. Sometimes, you need to take advantage of moments to rest and recharge yourself. Usually, when you do, you come back to your project or practice with renewed vigor and fresh insight that you wouldn’t have had if you just kept toiling, toiling, toiling… toiling!

Do you take care of yourself when you feel weary or do you constantly push yourself beyond the point of exhaustion, even when you don’t have to? Please leave me a reply in the comments section and let me know.

Many Blessings,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Regular: The Scoop on Poop

I don’t remember how the conversation about bowel movements started.  It was one holiday or some family event.  I do remember my sister, Denise, arching an eyebrow at me and saying:

“You’re a vegetarian.  You must be like a goose now.”

“I don’t know if I am as loose as goose but I’m good for about a three day.”

“What!  That’s too much.  That’s not normal!” exclaimed another family member, whom I am sure would prefer to have her identity remain private.

“How often do you poop?” I asked.

“Once every five days or so,” she said.

I am not sure if I said anything at the time but that sounded a little constipated to me… Turns out, there is no normal range of exactly how often one should move their bowels.

The major determinate of whether your bowel movements are regular is, well, what comes out.  Guess what?  There is a chart for that!  It’s called the Bristol Stool Chart.  (Go ahead, Google it right now… I’ll wait.)  There are seven types of stools, ranging from Type 1, separate hard lumps, to Type 7, completely fluid.  The normal range is Type 3, resembling a cracked sausage and Type 4, looking like a smooth, soft snake.  So, if your poo is too hard or too soft, you’ve got work to do!

What to do if you are on the low end of the chart:

  • Drink more water.
  • Get more fiber in your diet like fruit, veggies, greens, seeds (like chia and pumpkin seeds!) whole grains and legumes.  (Special shout-out to my dad, Hank Lenz, who is a long-time proponent of psyllium husks!)
  • Eat less meat.  Animal fat is a lot harder to digest and will hang around, putrefying in your bowels until some nice leafy green or grain brushes it through.
  •  Get regular exercise.  Moving your body will make everything work better including your bowels.  Yoga and stretching can be especially effective for helping with digestive issues.
  • Try a probiotic.  Probiotics will help restore the digestive flora in your gut. Gut flora can be compromised by illness, poor nutrition or even medication like an antibiotic.
  • Avoid commercial laxatives if possible.  Chemical laxatives and stool softeners will weaken your peristaltic muscles, making it more difficult for your body to evacuate on its own the longer you use them.
  • Change your position.  Technically, it’s better to squat than sit when moving the bowels.  If you find that you are straining, it’s advisable to get your knees up higher than your waist and lean forward.  You can keep a stool or squatty potty near the toilet for this purpose.  If you are feeling exceptionally limber, go ahead and squat right on the toilet by drawing your knees up and placing your feet on the seat.

What to do if you are on the high end of the chart:

  • Drink water.  Although, it seems counter-intuitive at that moment, it’s important to keep your fluids up especially if you have diarrhea.  You are losing fluids quickly and they must be replaced or you risk becoming dehydrated.
  • Avoid meat and dairy.
  • Follow a BRAT diet if you have diarrhea until your condition improves.  BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
  • Charcoal capsules can also be used for diarrhea to absorb toxins and excess fluid.
  • Rest! Diarrhea maybe a symptom of food poisoning or infection.  So, it is important give your body time to heal itself.  (You’re probably not going to want to stray too far from the bathroom anyway!)
  • Eat pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!!!) Pumpkin flesh is great for diarrhea because it contains electrolytes, potassium and soluble dietary fiber.  (By the way pumpkin is also excellent to give your canine buddy if he or she has diarrhea.)
  • Diarrhea can also be the body’s last-ditch effort to deal with constipation, by liquifying the contents of your colon in a “blazing lights and siren” emergency sort of way.  So, if you find you tend to get diarrhea after a bout of constipation, take a look at the first set of suggestions above.

Make sure that if you are on either extreme of the chart for an extended period of time, you get examined by a qualified healthcare professional.  Diarrhea and constipation can be indicators of a serious illness and should not be ignored.  Diarrhea can cause dehydration.  Prolonged constipation can lead to fecal impaction.  Contact your health care provider if you notice blood or abnormal colors in your stool.   Similarly, if your stool has an unusually foul odor, you also want to get that checked out.

Do be sure to give your excrement at least a once-over before you flush!  It’s an excellent indication of what is going on with your health in general.

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Resourceful: Getting Scrappy with Vegetables!

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows I’m a vegetarian. When you eat a lot of fresh vegetables, you end up with a lot of vegetable scraps. What do you do with them? Throwing them out seems so wasteful! I have put together a few suggestions to see if maybe I can help you see those scraps in a new light.

  1. Eat them

Stems and stalks may not be the sexiest parts of the plants but they are still loaded with all the good nutrition and fiber you find in the prettier areas. Stems can be tough but if you dice them up and toss them in a soup, stew or stir-fry, they will become tender and delish.

  1. Feed them to your pooch

Chauncy and Lucy regularly eat vegetables as I mentioned in my post, Natural Pets: Eat Your Veggies Fido! They love broccoli stalks, cut up to roughly the same size as their store-bought treats. Lucy goes wild over crunchy lettuce ends. They are also both huge fans of kale stems, raw or cooked. I will dice up kale or Swiss chard stems, steam them and mix them in with their dog food. They gobble it right down.

Chauncy and Broccolli Stem

Please be careful when feeding your dog fruit or veggies. Always make sure you give them safe veggies in small, manageable portions. Less is more is definitely more in this case! Never give your dog onions, corn cobs, grapes, nuts, avocados or stone fruits.

Lucy and Broccoli

  1. Make stock or broth

I have to admit…I rarely do this. A lot of people do though. They will reserve their veggie scraps and freeze them until they have enough to cook down into stock. The problem I have with this, besides giving up the freezer space, is not all veggies taste good together. While I love and appreciate kale mightily, it has too strong a flavor to use in stock. Maybe one day when I have my dream garden, (and don’t have a three hour commute) I can devote my time to separating scrap for stock.

  1. Compost it

Composting is a wonderful way to improve your soil. Vegetables are a beautiful, safe addition to your heap or bin. Again, this is not something that I currently do but would like to. If you are a gardener and have been contemplating whether or not to make your own compost, let this be the push to get you started! Find great information (and laughs) in Jeff Yeager’s wonderful article, Rotten Luv: My Love Affair with Compost.

Final Thought:

If you have to toss them in the trash, go ahead. There are far worse things stuffing up landfills than veg scraps. At least you know that they will fully decompose and not wreak havoc on the environment for centuries to come.

How do you use your veggie scraps? Do you throw them out? Have you tried any of the suggestions mentioned above? Would you? Leave me a reply and let me know.

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Nature’s Bounty: Fresh from the Farmer’s Market

“All my hurts my garden spade can heal.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A dream of mine is to grow a lot of my own food and flowers.  Alas, a garden is a demanding avocation.  So, I must set aside that dream for now as my schedule does not permit.  In the meanwhile, thankfully, there is the farmer’s market.

I go to the farmer’s market usually every other week.  To me, it is an almost magical place.  The veggies and fruit seem more ravishing than jewels.  It makes me happy to gaze upon them, nestled in their display cases, practically bursting with delicious ripeness.  I was so excited by the first Long Island tomatoes, you would have thought it was my birthday.

One of the greatest pleasures is eating, fresh, ripe fruit and veggies in season!  I buy almost all organic produce when I shop at the supermarket but not even that tastes quite as delicious as food that was picked within a day of when I purchased it.  That first bite of tomato was like eating sunshine, the rain and the rich earth all in the form of a juicy, delectable, plump, meaty red tomato!  There is something very satisfying and right about eating tomatoes or corn, grown in the same environment you live in.

The farm I buy from is about 90 miles from my home or just shy of a two hour drive.  (The farmer’s market is about five miles away.  I really appreciate the farmers doing the lion’s share of the driving!)  While there is no universal agreement on what makes food local for a consumer.  100 miles has become the standard for many.  So, let’s go with that, shall we?

I think eating food that is grown locally is important for several reasons.  Taste is number one, as you probably already surmised by the way I went on and on in the previous paragraphs.  A close second is that you are buying the food from the people who grew it.  So, they can tell you in detail what their practices are and you can decide if they meet your standards.  Also, you are supporting people in your community by purchasing from them.  The last one I am going to mention is freshness.  Much of the produce you buy in the supermarket is not picked at maximum ripeness.  It is picked early to keep it from rotting in transit.  So, you are not getting the maximum flavor and nutrition, you would have enjoyed had it been allowed to ripen on the vine.

Do you go to your local farmer’s market?  What is your favorite part about going there? Please leave me a reply and let me know in the comments section.

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Healthy Fat-free Snack: Baked Kale Chips

I always liked the idea of kale chips but whenever I tried the store-bought kind, I found them to be very small, kind of greasy and a bit mushy.  They just never tasted quite right.  They barely resembled kale.  They were more like the soggy embers of kale!

I really like using parchment paper when I make oven fries.  They don’t stick to the cookie sheet and you don’t need any oil.  So, they are fat-free! Seriously, what’s not to like?  I reasoned if I was happy with the results,  I was getting with sliced potatoes, yams, carrots, etc., using this method, then was worth a try with Kale too.

It worked!   Essentially, you are in between baking and dehydrating the kale in your oven.  The best part is these chips are so easy to make:

Baked Kale Chips

Large Bunch of Kale

Cookie Sheets

Parchment Paper

Sea Salt (optional)

Sriracha Sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 270 Degrees

Wash and dry kale.  (I like to spin the water out with a salad spinner.)   De-stem Kale.  You want to remove the stem all the way up the leaf (no tough veins!)  Tear into large pieces (remember they will shrink as they bake.)  Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Do not overlap.

Place the leaves close together but not overlapping!

Place the leaves close together but not overlapping!

Place in oven on different racks, allowing the heat to circulate.  Bake for eight minutes.  Check on kale.  Sprinkle salt on if desired.  Turn the pans the other way (vertical to horizontal or vice-verse.)  Bake for another 8-10 minutes.  The kale should be thoroughly crisp but not at all burnt when it is done.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before handling.  Then place kale in serving dish.  I shake any leftover salt into the bowl with the chips.  At this point, I like to put a drop of Sriracha sauce on each chip as I eat them.  Yum!  Sometimes, I’ll sprinkle them with my homemade cashew “Parmesan cheese.”

Hope you enjoy!

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

 

Natural Energy: Chia Seed Lemonade

I am pretty much full of chia seeds lately. They are fantastic! If you are looking for one easy way to improve your health, take chia seeds daily.

Chia seeds have a long history of providing excellent nutrition. Ancient Aztecs and Mayans used them to maximize their energy and strength. Chia seeds are still considered a superfood today. Packed with fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  They have all the benefits of flax seeds without the need to grind to them to make them digestible. Plus, they are shelf-stable and bugs don’t like them. Hallelujah!

Chia seeds are really easy to incorporate into your diet. You can sprinkle them into salads, cereals, casseroles and baked goods. I often put them in brownies and muffins. You can also drink them. I put them in my smoothies. Unlike other seeds which stay hard, when you add chia seeds to liquid, they expand and form a gel. So, they slip right down your gullet!

Chia Seed Lemonade (a.k.a. Chia Fresca a.k.a. Iskiate) is my new favorite to take these wonderful seeds.

Chia Seed Lemonade

Tall Glass of Water

Three Tablespoons of Chia Seeds

Three Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

Half Teaspoon of Stevia

Ice

Mix the seeds into the water and let sit for ten minutes. You will notice it is much thicker at this point. Stir again. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir again and enjoy!

Do you think you will try Chia Lemonade? Do you already use chia seeds in your diet? Please let me know by leaving a reply. I love hearing from you!

Blessings to all,

Cynthia

justdragonfly