Winter is here!
There may be snow on the ground, there is colder weather, lots of soups and stews, and then of course the stuffed up noses. It all sounds great until you’re blowing your nose every two seconds and your throat could pass for sandpaper. And if all that wasn’t enough, your lungs have to fight the losing battle of a cough so aggressive you feel as though the wind is constantly being knocked out of you.
Sometimes these are just symptoms of a small cold, but other times they could be the flu (and you’ll be able to tell since the flu symptoms are nearly 10 times harsher than a simple cold). But let’s look at some home remedies for these health violators before resorting to chugging a bottle of Dayquil.
We all know that vitamin C is a good thing to keep in your system when fighting a cold. You can make sure of that by taking your daily vitamins and maybe increasing the dosage of vitamin C for the duration of the cold or flu. A great herb to help combat your cold is Echinacea. Echinacea is a notable immune system booster and will also help take up arms against the germs with your white blood cells to help insure a victory.
There are also some very standard steps to taking care of yourself that I think we often neglect and opt to buy medicine instead. According to WebMD you must: blow your nose, rest, gargle, and shower. You have to blow your nose regularly because half the time we’ll only blow our noses when we can no longer breathe out of them, but try to do it a couple times an hour to keep that mucus out of your system. Stay rested because your body won’t have enough energy to keep to your regular routine while fighting off a sickness. I once got over a cold by simply spending an entire day in bed, drinking tons of water and sleeping a lot instead of pushing myself. Believe me it works.
Next time you feel a cold coming, get the upper-hand and try all the above. And I’ll leave you with one last little tip. If you have a sore throat that is distractingly painful and you lose your voice, I would recommend an herbal throat coat. Traditional Medicinals tea makes a great Throat Coat. Steep it and throw in some honey, you’ll feel noticeably better right away. It’s my quick fix if I need immediate relief. I wish you all a natural victory in this upcoming cold war!
It’s only a few days until Christmas! Are you ready for your next big feast?
With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that we could save ourselves a lot of work the day of by doing more prep leading up to the event.
Frankly, I think we should all spend more time putting our feet up on Christmas Day and less time slaving in the kitchen.
To start, if you haven’t already, you should call around to confirm who’s coming. You want to make sure you have that basic detail nailed down.
You should have all of your groceries (except the fresh stuff) in the house, and your special holiday linens should be freshly laundered and pressed.
Get all of your serving dishes and utensils washed and ready. You don’t want to discover on Christmas morning that you need a new soup tureen or that your use-once-a-year Christmas plates have a one-inch layer of dust on them!
This past weekend, I triple checked my grocery list and made sure I wasn’t missing anything. I also completely deep cleaned and scoured my fridge, so it’s ready for my fresh groceries and all those delicious leftovers.
So, what’s left to be done before Christmas?
Three days before the dinner, you should take out your serving dishes and label them with an index card or a piece of paper stating which meal item will go inside. In the bowl for potatoes, for instance, write a card that reads “mashed potatoes.”
Stack and place these dishes on the dining room table or a surface that won’t be used until your dinner. You can drape them with something to prevent them from getting dusty.
Two days before the meal, get all your fresh groceries and prep your dessert. I also like to do my cranberry sauce at this point. One less thing to worry about!
The day before your dinner, prep the veggies. Get them washed and ready, peeled and sliced for the pan, then place them in the fridge. That way, on the day of, you simply need to grab and go!
Now, finally, set the Christmas table, take a deep breath and enjoy having that much less to worry about on the day of!
I also have a schedule here that will make things go nice and smoothly for you on the day of!
Most important tip of the day: CLEAN UP AS YOU GO. Clean as you go. Clean as you go. Clean as you go. This step is going to save you a big headache later that night when you should be sipping a nice glass of wine or taking a bubble bath.
Morning of the feast
Start preparing dinner. Yes now! Get your veggies ready if you didn’t already take this step earlier this week. If you have a meat that takes a long time to roast, get it in the oven. Put your butter, salt and pepper on the dinner table, and make sure you have enough place settings.
Two and a half hours before meal time
Take care of those little things that need to be done for dinner. Make your whipped cream, set up the coffeemaker, get your gravy set up, start your salad prep, etcetera.
One hour before go time
Check the meat. Remember, it should sit for 15 to 30 minutes after you get it out of the oven! Get all your veggies and side dishes cooked. If you have a slow cooker (or multiple slow cookers), use them to keep your sides warm! Make your gravy, heat your rolls and carve your meat, placing it on the serving dish.
When it’s time to eat, put everything on the table, join hands with those you love and give thanks.
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We are completely entrenched in the Christmas season and for so many, also completely entrenched in holiday depression. Having gone through holiday bouts of depression myself, I will never discount anyone’s depression. I will tell you however, there are things you can do to fight the oppression of depression. Even if you don’t “feel” like it, you can take action against it.
One of the most effective things in battling any sort of depression (and it is a FIGHT!) is feeding yourself right. Poor eating actually helps fuel depression. In the midst of all the scurrying around during the holidays, we end up shortchanging ourselves and eating poorly. We “save up” for the Big Feasts or parties and starve ourselves or eat fast food because we’re too busy.
Having a plan really does make a difference. We have a great Christmas menu that gives you a menu for the big meal, recipes and the itemized grocery list to keep the panic level at bay. But even with lists and plans, there’s still a lot to do that can cause stress, which only contributes to that downward spiral.
Add poor eating to that and you’re going to be struggling big time to keep your chin above water.
To fend off bad eating, make yourself a big pot of soup (in your large crock cooker) to keep yourself from “going there.” You need something easy, delicious and nutritious to get you through.
Below is a recipe for a major crock cooker full of phytochemically rich veggie soup that you can tweak here and there with the variations I have added to keep you from getting bored. Once the soup has been initially cooked, put it in the fridge and heat up what you need in a small saucepan. The soup is vegetarian and low-carb friendly, too.
And while you’re running around over the next few days finishing up your last-minute shopping, remember to drink your water. Water is a nutrient, not a beverage. Drink a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated.
Leanne's Basic Vegetable Soup
In a large soup pot, heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat.
Add the onion and cook till nearly translucent, now add the garlic. Don’t let the garlic brown and saute another couple of minutes.
Add the rest of the chopped veggies, sauteing for just a minute or two; use extra olive oil if you need it for the rest of the veggies. Remember–you’re not cooking them– just sauteing them for the wonderful flavor this quick step will infuse in your soup.
Add the thyme and salt and pepper while sauteing.
Now put the veggies in the crock cooker, add the tomatoes and broth.
Cook on low 7-9 hours (depending on your crock cooker) or high 4-6 hours.
Just before serving, gently mash some of the potato chunks against the side of the crock-pot to thicken the soup, give it a stir and serve.
Nutrition Per Serving: 94 Calories; 3g Fat; 7g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 286mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat. Points: 2
SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Grilled cheese sandwiches on whole grain bread and a spinach salad.
Quick Fixes for Variations on the Basic Veggie Soup
Now remember, don’t do these to the whole pot of soup! Just the little bit you pull out to fix yourself for lunch, etc. so that you can do all the Quick Fixes.
Quick Fix #1: Tex Mex Veggie Soup. Add some (eyeball it–how much do you want?) black beans (drained and rinsed), a little bit of cumin and chopped cilantro. Top with some tortilla chips and cheese, or serve with a quesadilla.
Quick Fix #2: Tuscan Veggie Soup. Add some (eyeball it again) cannellini (white kidney beans) or white beans (drained and rinsed), a little bit of Italian seasoning and some chopped kale. Cook till heated through and the kale is tender.
Quick Fix #3: Minestrone Veggie Soup. Add some cooked pasta, a little dried basil and top with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese.
Quick Fix #4: Autumn Veggie Soup. Add some diced acorn squash or butternut squash, a handful of cooked brown rice, a sprinkling of nutmeg and some chopped parsley.
This morning, I received an email ad from a kitchen supply store telling me to “savor the holidays.” As I was about to delete it, I started thinking about the word “savor” and what it means. What I aim for in my life is to live in such a way that I savor ALL days, not just the holidays. Isn’t that what it’s all truly about? Not just holidays and celebrations—but everything, from the mundane tasks to the more difficult aspects of living–everything. ALL of life is meant to be savored—not just the holidays.
The dictionary defines savor (the verb) as: to give flavor to, to have experience of, to taste or smell with pleasure, to delight in. Other words or phrases would be season, taste, relish, appreciate, enjoy, and luxuriate in.
We can do that—savor our lives, when we let go of our perfectionism. Have you ever noticed perfectionism doesn’t live in the here and now? Instead, it looks back wistfully at another time and place remembering when things were (in our skewed thinking) “perfect” (or pretty close to it). Perfectionism looks ahead at what could be “if only I could (fill in the blank)”.
Perfectionism refuses to live in today because today is a mess. There are clothes that need washing, noses that need wiping and food that needs preparing. We have body clutter issues, husbands who don’t understand, children that won’t obey and even the dog messes stuff up. CALGON TAKE ME AWAY, we holler, like that erstwhile television commercial with the distraught Mom thinking the only escape in her way less than perfect life was a bubble bath.
So how on EARTH can you savor the above scenario?? The answer is going to sound simplistic and overly Pollyann-ish but I’m going to spout off anyway. You live in the moment, you savor those little runny noses because in a few years, your teenagers will barely let you hug them let alone wipe their noses. Those clothes that need washing? You have a FAMILY that loves you and depends on you—there are legions of single women who wish they lived in your lace up shoes. Bless each one of them as you turn their dirty socks right side out again for the millionth time as you’re doing the wash. Turn on the honey and sweetness with your sweet darling husband—love him up “real good”, with affection, a good meal, clean underwear and a pleasant smile and see if he doesn’t suddenly start to understand a little bit more.
Letting go of perfectionism means savoring our everyday lives with all their messes and imperfections. It means making a conscious decision to become a real blessing in our families lives by appreciating, delighting in, relishing, enjoying and actually LUXURIATING in their presence. Savoring them by giving flavor to our families with our changed attitudes and loving them with our whole hearts.
So go ahead and savor your holidays by being prepared. But don’t forget to keep TODAY in mind as you prepare for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever holiday you happen to be celebrating. Every day is worthy of celebration.
Winter is here, and baby, it’s cold outside! Everyone enjoys a cup of something warm but you know the drill–most of the time, these things are calorie bombs in a cup! So how do we navigate this desire for warm beverages vs. the stuff out there that will pack on the pounds and make your thighs expand?
Let’s start with some tea, shall we? Is anyone out there a tea drinker? I have English bones, and was raised in a regular tea-sipping home. The only challenge with tea is that it’s hard to break the English tea habit of adding milk or sugar. But I’ve come across a tea that doesn’t need a thing. Good Earth is the brand and the tea that I especially love is the original Sweet and Spicy. It’s a deep red color, with a rich cinnamon taste with sweet tones, leaving the drinker’s tongue infatuated with flavor and subtle sweetness. Give it a try, it’s low in the calorie department and tastes like Christmas in a cup!
For an occasional treat, like after you go cross country skiing or other winter sport (think TREAT!) you can make your own drinks that you would usually buy mixes for: hot chocolate for example.
Hot chocolate is especially easy to make. All you need is unsweetened cocoa baking powder, sugar to taste (be mindful or use a little xylitol insted), a splash of vanilla extract, and a cup of hot milk. In measuring out your own ingredients you don’t have to worry as much about any mysterious additives that tend to increase that calorie count we’re all so cautious of.
Or you can use this Paleo Hot Chocolate recipe, but remember this is a TREAT, not something to drink all the time:
Paleo Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 to 3 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat almond milk over medium high heat. Remove from heat before milk boils. Whisk remaining ingredients together with milk and voila! Add a dash of cinnamon if you’re an adventurous cocoa consumer 😉
For More Fun Winter Sips, try these:
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Anti-Inflammatory Magical Midas Milk
Paleo Cocoa and Coconut Whipped Cream
Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Is it just me or is it easier to remember to drink your water in the summer?
Just because the temperatures have dropped, doesn’t mean your water intake can take a dip, too. Our hydration needs don’t change much in the winter months–our body functions still need water to make it function optimally.
In warm or cold weather, your body loses water the same way– through sweating, breathing and urinating. Whether you’re inside or outside, summer or winter, you’re losing water the same way and you need to hydrate the same way by making sure you’re drinking water. Exercise is an important way to not only stay fit, but detoxify your body though sweating. Replenishing your body with water after a workout is essential to restoring balance.
We are all different and have different activity levels, so the best real gauge of your own hydration status is your individual output. Hold on to your water here… this might get gross, but it’s important to know.
When you go to the bathroom, yellow urine means you need to drink more water, whereas clear or light yellow urine means you are well hydrated. Signs of dehydration are pretty easy to identify. Be aware of your body and catch them quickly. If you feel thirsty, have dry mouth, are light-headed, can’t focus well, feel tired or notice your skin is dry, then you need to drink more water.