Category Archives: Naturally Healthy

Frozen Fruit

Want to Look and Feel Better? Drink Fruit

My skin has been aggressively dry this winter.  My hands were starting to look like they belonged to a 150 year-old alien creature.  They remained, dry, scaly and wrinkled no matter how much water I was drinking or how much cream I slathered on them.  My face wasn’t faring much better.

I wondered why I suddenly seemed to be aging so rapidly.  What was different?  I realized I wasn’t eating enough fruit.  I used to drink green smoothies most days.  I had tapered off because, quite frankly, I don’t like them very much.  Greens and fruit blended together tasted okay but I can’t say I enjoyed them.  I don’t particularly want to see that shade of green early  in the morning either.  I also found that they repeated on me for several hours after I drank them.  I much prefer to eat greens in salads.  I personally seem to digest them better that way.

I hadn’t realized that when I dropped the green smoothies, I stopped eating as much fruit.  This week, I began drinking fruit smoothies with my breakfast and the difference was immediate.  My hands became recognizable as my own again.  They were suddenly soft and supple. The skin on my face also smoothed out and plumped up again.  My whole body felt better inside and out. My mid-morning desire to snack even went away.

My experience isn’t just anecdotal.  Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients.  These properties are vital to our overall health and well-being. Fruit is also usually high in fiber. The increased fiber from the fruit is probably the reason I have been fuller longer and was able to ditch my mid-morning snack.   Fiber, of course, also helps the body rid itself of waste and harmful invaders.

The base of my smoothie is always a banana and almond milk.  I add a cup of various frozen fruits to this starter: mango, pineapple, and berries. I thaw them out in the fridge overnight.  I don’t really like super cold drinks.  When the ice crystals hit the back of my throat, I start coughing.  I figure using softer fruit is less wear and tear on my blender too.

I know fruit smoothies get some flack for containing a lot of natural sugar.  However, since the fruit is still whole when I blend it, the fiber and nutrients are intact.  It isn’t as though I am getting all this sugar in a concentrated form like I would with just juice.  So,  I am not that worried about it.

How about you?  Have you been experiencing very dry skin this winter? A fruit smoothie might just  be the delicious solution that you seek now that Spring has sprung!

Tasha Tudor

The Private World of Tasha Tudor, a review

Recently, I borrowed a book from the library that was published in 1992.  1992 probably seems like a lifetime ago to many of us.  The internet was a nascent network available only to Vax nerds.  Cell phones were only in the hands of a privileged few.  Life was a little slower, quieter and simpler 27 years ago.

1992 was a lot quieter, simpler and slower for renowned illustrator Tasha Tudor who chose to live on a quiet rural Vermont estate with a menagerie of domestic and exotic animals.  Her 1830s lifestyle is beautifully captured in The Private World of Tasha Tudor, a coffee table book by Tasha Tudor and photographer Richard Brown.

The photographs alone are reason enough to pick up this book. It is filled with pictures of Tasha Tudor in her environment. Divided into the four seasons, you will see lush photos of Tudor’s gardens, as well as the inside of her home with her oil lamps, old-fashioned wood cooking stove, homespun linens and beautiful handcrafted items. There are also photos of Tudor with her grandchildren wearing the early 19th Century clothes that Tudor preferred.

“I’m very fond of men. I think they’re wonderful creatures. But I don’t want to look like one. When women gave up long skirts, they made a grave error.  Things half seen are so much more mysterious and delightful.”

Tudor’s humor, wit and frankness fill the pages opposite the photos.  She was someone who knew what she wanted from the time she was a little girl. She was convinced she had lived before in the 1830s and felt more comfortable in that way of life. So, she masterfully recreated a 19th century lifestyle while enjoying a very successful career as the award-winning illustrator of almost 100 books.  One quote that really resonated with me was:

“When I’m working in th barn or house I often think of all the errors I’ve made in my life. But I quickly put that behind me and think of water lilies. They will always eradicate unpleasant thoughts. Or goslings are equally comforting in their own way.”

Great advice! When I realize I am dwelling too much in the negative past, I also try to think of something that makes me happy like my dogs or a beautiful garden.

The book is filled these sorts of self-reflections and other helpful observations. Above all, it gorgeously displays a life that is deeply connected to the natural world, as well as, being in tune with the seasons of nature rather than being ruled by the artificial, digital timing of Today’s world.

I would highly recommend The Private World of Tasha Tudor if you would like to experience the serenity of the 1830s through beautiful photographs and the brilliant musings of a satisfied woman who brought to life the world of her dreams.

Enjoy The Donut!

This past Thursday, Valentine’s Day, I stopped off to pick up a coffee cake for the breakfast we were having at work. While completing that task, I spied a package full of beautifully-baked, perfectly-sugared jelly donuts.

I am not usually someone who is drawn to sweets. I am more of a savory kind of gal. However, there is something about donuts that I find utterly irresistible! I turn into Homer Simpson. (“Doooooo-nut…!”) Normally, I avoid places that sell them for this reason. I tried to summon up my will power to avoid them even in this instance but after circling them three times, I pounced and they were gathered up with the coffee cake.

I scarfed one down in the car on the way to the office. I felt immensely joyful afterward. Then I became concerned that I might be using food to control my mood. I shared this with a few people at the office, who said, “It’s Valentine’s Day! It’s okay to have a sweet once in a while.”

I think they’re right. Since I am interested in nutrition and self-improvement, I tend to review a lot of content by people who seem perfect in their habits. They live on salads, green smoothies and kale and nary a bit of refined sugar ever seems to cross their lips. While that’s admirable, I think as long as I am making the effort to avoid the bakery 90% of the time, it’s okay to enjoy a donut every once in a while. So far, I haven’t started putting on a scarf and sunglasses to sneak into donut shops on the daily, weekly or even monthly yet… So, I can probably cut myself a break.

Do you have a not-so-healthy food that you find too tempting to pass up?

My Reiki Experience

I was looking for a free QiGong class when I saw an event listed at a nearby library:

REIKI

Reiki is a Japanese technique for reducing stress and promotes healing.  Wear comfortabe clothing.

I thought with my luck lately, I could use all the stress reduction and healing I could get. As a student of yoga and meditation, I am somewhat familiar with energy healing but not Reiki per se. So, I really didn’t know what to expect in a group session.

I arrived at the library meeting room with the other early birds.  While we waited, our Reiki Instructor warned us about the dangers of consuming food a day after it is cooked, as well as processed food.  Something about nighttime altering the subtle energy of food.  Although, I agree about the processed food, today was the first time in months I bought soy ice cream!  I was looking forward to a little treat and really wasn’t in the mood for a lecture.

After everyone arrived, we silenced our phones as the lights were lowered.  We were told to sit with our spines straight in a comfortable position.  It was important to not cross our arms or legs; as this would interfere with the flow of energy.  Then we were asked to visualize a silvery-white cosmic energy a few feet above our heads.  A ball of this energy was to enter our crown chakra- “Wait a minute! Chakra? I thought this was a Reiki session.  Reiki is Japanese.  I know chakras from yoga and Ayurveda.  That’s Indian. Does Reiki use chakras too?”

Then I reminded myself that maybe it would be better to focus on the meditation.  I was after stress reduction and healing. It didn’t really matter how I got it.  So, I settled in and let her words guide my mind as she described this cosmic healing energy cleansing each chakra from root to crown.  It was very relaxing.  I also noticed that the cough from my allergies had abated during the meditation.  Pretty cool!

After the session was over, I thanked our instructor. I also mentioned I was surprised when she started talking about chakras and didn’t realize they were part of Reiki.  She said something like she does the Reiki and that was one of the forms she chooses to use.  I took this to mean that Reiki is the healing energy and you can put it in any vehicle you want.  She used a chakra meditation. Someone else might use sound and vibration for example.  Apparently, there are numerous ways to transmit this energy.  I am not sure.  Perhaps, I can write a follow-up if I learn more about it after a future session.  I do plan to go back.

I did find a QiGong class.  So, I will let you know how that goes.

Seeds Update

There is some good news and not so good news.

Bad news first,  the indoor herb seedlings didn’t make it.  I suspect I didn’t get the peat pots wet enough to start and the sides needed to be covered better with the plastic.  I’ll direct sow them again outside.  I think they will be fine.  I’ll just need to wait a little longer to harvest them.

Now for the good news!  The tomato plants are doing great.  So great in fact, I needed to find homes for them.  Several people have said they will be happy to adopt the little leafy guys once they are hardened off and can live outside.  They should be ready in about two weeks.

So, tell me how is your garden growing?

Many  blessings,

Cynthia

The Day After Soup

Let me apologize for the somewhat dramatic and still somehow vague title of this post. I just couldn’t think of anything else…

I went out to eat last night. The Italian food I had was quite delicious and I didn’t overindulge -I didn’t even have bread or wine- but I am having the same problem I always do the day after I eat out, salt and oil overload! Even vegetarians can’t escape the liberal generous mammoth use of salt at restaurants. I am just not used to it and feel a bit off today.

My first attempt to rebalance was to make a large smoothie:

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An all fruit smoothie has a lot of natural sugar in it but I am not sweating that because it is packed with natural fiber, vitamins, micronutrients and a high water content … which I need right now.

My next order of business was to start up a nourishing vegetable soup:

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Making a veggie soup once a week is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. You don’t even need a recipe. Chop up a few cups of colorful vegetables, throw them in a pot and cover them with broth or water, add spices, add heat and wait. I like to throw mine in my little crockpot. Heat on high and it’s ready in time for lunch, on low for dinner. Add pre-cooked beans and you have a complete meal. (I would suggest waiting until the last 20 minutes before adding any leafy greens to avoid over cooking.)

So, there are two of my picks to stay healthy during the holidays.  How do you stay in balance this time of year?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Want to Save Money, Lose weight and Be Healthier? Eat Cabbage!

Until recently, whenever I thought about cabbage I would remember the unwelcome smell that permeated the hallway of my grandmother’s building in Far Rockaway, NY. It would make my nose wrinkle and I couldn’t wait to get into her apartment which always seemed to smell like fresh baked dinner rolls or something equally delicious.

So, I quite surprised myself when I picked up a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market.  I did it for two reasons: 1. I know how nutritious it is.  2.  It was only $2.  WIN, WIN!

I pondered what to do with it on the way home.  Then I surprised myself again by slapping the steering wheel and declaring out loud, “I am going to make sauerkraut!”  I have no idea where the thought came from since I never made it before and quite frankly… I never even really thought about sauerkraut being comprised of cabbage.  The same goes for coleslaw (which I also decided to make.)

How hard could it be?  It turns out, not hard at all.  It became clear after some quick research that sauerkraut is merely cabbage+salt+time.  I chopped the cabbage as thin as I could by hand, threw in a few tablespoons of kosher salt and began to massage it.  I found myself wondering how many of my German ancestors must have done the very thing I was doing at that moment.  It felt so natural working the salt into the cabbage until the juices flowed out.  After about 10 minutes, I decided I created enough of a brine to jar it up.  You want there to be enough liquid to fully submerge the kraut.  I used an onion* half to weigh it down in the jar.  After that, I topped the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band.  I found this set-up very effective for keeping the oxygen out while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape.  Then I set the jar in a dark cabinet in the basement, the only place that might come close to maintaining the ideal temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees.

How does this make sauerkraut?  The short answer is that cabbage naturally carries bacteria like lactobacilli which helps kick off lactic acid fermentation.  The salt preserves the cabbage to keep it from rotting while fermentation takes place.  There is a lot of debate about the proper amount of time to allow sauerkraut to ferment, anywhere from three days to six months.  I found the most consensus that around three weeks is enough time.  The idea is to allow the sauerkraut to ferment long enough to produce a goodly amount of probiotic bacteria. Then after that it’s just about taste.

However, if you are like me and you can’t wait that long or if the average temp is above 75 degrees then two weeks is long enough.  Also, keep in mind, the sauerkraut will continue to ferment in the fridge.  It will just happen much more slowly below 65 degrees.

BBQ beans on toast with tomato, olives, homemade kraut and a pickle... what more could you ask for?

BBQ beans on toast with tomato, olives, homemade kraut and a pickle… what more could you ask for?

I have to tell you that homemade sauerkraut is DELICIOUS!  It is so much better than store-bought. I am not sure I could eat the canned stuff ever again.  Give it a try if you like sauerkraut.  You have nothing to lose.  I paid two dollars for a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market.  (I noticed they are $1.29 at the supermarket.)  That one head netted me 16 ounces of sauerkraut and eight cups of coleslaw.  I call that VERY budget-friendly!

I will get more into the nutritional and weight loss benefits of cabbage in my next post, as well as share the coleslaw recipe I concocted.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

*I got the onion as a weight idea from the Dr Axe website: https://draxe.com/recipe/sauerkraut-recipe/

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justdragonfly

Mom Was Right

Yesterday, I was driving home during rush hour in stop and go traffic.  I like to leave a good 20 to 30 feet between my car and the one in front of me because I have seen too many multi-car fender benders. I have no desire to be put in a position to slam on my brakes and pray I don’t rear-end someone.

Apparently, my logic was lost on the maniac child of God behind me BECAUSE he practically hooked himself on my bumper and periodically honked at me.  I would glance in the rear-view mirror and shrug as if to say, “do you really think I’m the one who is holding you up right now?”  As we got closer to the exit, he leaned on his horn, at which point, I lost my temper, opened the window, stuck my left arm out high and saluted him with my middle finger.  He got so angry that he pulled up alongside me to curse me out.  At which point, I refused to look at him, stuck my right arm out and saluted him again.  Then this crazy, moth-  fellow human being pulled sharply to the left as if he was going to play bumper cars with me.  I managed to swerve around him, narrowly missing the car to my left.  Thankfully, he gave up at that point and sped away on the exit ramp.

My first thought was , “Holy crap, that guy was willing to literally use his car as a weapon and cause an accident.”  My second thought was, “Mom was right!”  I instantly heard her voice in my head saying, “Cindy, STOP giving people the finger!  You don’t know if that person is crazy or not.  Someone could have a gun.  Do what I do.  Leave the windows rolled up and yell at them.  You get your frustration out and no one gets hurt.”  I have been in the car with her when someone has cut her off.  Her language is very colorful, indeed, and would probably make a sailor blush.

So, here is the best Mother’s day gift I could ever give her:

“Mom, you were right.  Happy Mothers Day!”

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers who are mothers (to humans and furry kids.)  All the best always!

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Reflective: New Year’s Review and Reset

I am very happy to have today off!  Since it’s New Year’s Eve, a coworker asked me yesterday with a smirk if I was going to “party hard.”  The sarcasm stems from the fact that I am the only introvert in an office replete with extroverts.  It’s common knowledge at work that “partying hard” is clearly not in my wheelhouse.  In fact, I stopped trying to “fake it in order to make it” years ago.

I prefer to focus more on starting the New Year off on the right foot.  So, New Year’s Eve for me is a good time to reflect back over the last year.  I saw a great quote on Facebook the other day from the ageless and wise Mimi Kirk:

“2016- Life is like a garden, keep the things that worked last year and get rid of the things that didn’t.”

Oh how I love a good gardening analogy!  It seems like sage advice for non-diggers as well.  Removing clutter from our lives has become a popular theme in recent years, as the minimalist trend has gained momentum.  I applaud the idea of careful consumption and avoiding the accumulation of items that aren’t loved or needed.

What about habits and behaviors that don’t benefit us and keep us from living our dreams?  This is the question I will be pondering today.  New Year’s Eve is a good time to look back over the past year and see what worked and what didn’t.  I am going to follow Mimi’s advice to weed out what is not serving me.  I also want to recognize with gratitude what did and plan to cultivate those practices.

How are you spending New Year’s Eve?  Will you be spending time in reflection and gratitude?  Partying hard?  Little of both? Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!  May 2016 be your best year ever, filled with love, happiness, prosperity, laughter and many beautiful blessings!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Purposeful: Building the Dream with Andrea Shields Nunez

After our interview, I asked Career Liberation Coach Andrea Shields Nunez if she would answer a career/business question with a (health and wellness slant) quarterly.  She agreed!  I am really excited about this collaboration because I believe pursuing a dream you feel passionate about is integral to good health.  Our timely first installment is below.

Everything gets so crazy this time of year with the holidays.  It would be easy for people to get side-tracked from working on their dream.  Do you have any tips for people not to lose focus during all the holiday madness?

Not falling prey to the inevitable holiday madness that this time of year brings requires you to be very intentional. Even things that are truly important to you can get bumped for family obligations or just out of pure exhaustion. As much as I tout the importance of staying focused and taking action, in this case—at this time of year—my advice is not to fight it. In fact, build the downtime into your plan. Chances are you probably need the break, and what better time to give yourself permission to wind down then when everyone else is allowing themselves to be stressed! (I’m nothing if not a contrarian!)

The keys here are intention and full permission. Make it your intention to actually get some rest, recharge, do things you enjoy just for the sake of the enjoyment. Understand that this is as important to achieving your goals as taking action. Giving yourself this time can actually help you gain even more clarity and focus once you get back into action! And give yourself full permission to take the break. Absolutely NO guilt; None! For some, this time of year comes with plenty of that already. Don’t pile it on!

As we head into the season full force, take a few minutes to declare your intention to juuuust chill, give yourself full permission to do so, and know that you’re doing the very best thing possible for moving yourself forward in the New Year!

I agree with Andrea that rest and taking time to recharge is very important especially this time of year.  What do you think?  Please leave a reply in the comments section.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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

justdragonfly

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