- In a dry skillet, roast the cumin and coriander seeds until nutty.
- Transfer to a spice grinder and add cardamom and fennel seeds; process to a fine powder.
- Put the ground spices in a bowl with the ground ginger, asafetida, and salt and mix all together.
- Transfer into a shaker bottle to use whenever you’d like.
Recent survey results released by the American Cancer Society reinforce, once again, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and the findings are definitely cause for celebration. The online survey, which showed a strong link between health and attitudes about birthdays, revealed that people who say they are in excellent health are more likely to consider birthdays special and exciting events.
In addition, the survey found that people who say they are in excellent health are nearly twice as likely to love celebrating birthdays, generally consider them fun and feel more special on their birthday than people who say they are in poor health.
Clearly, these results are another reminder about the benefits of leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Not only will you look and feel great, but you’ll also be a brilliant birthday party guest!
The results are part of the Society’s Official Sponsor of Birthdays campaign, which asks people to imagine a world with more birthdays. More birthdays mean more time with our friends and family, and more opportunities to celebrate the important milestones in their lives.
A big part of the American Cancer Society’s effort to create more birthdays is helping people stay well by making healthy choices in their daily lives. Whether you’re planning a party for a child, an adult, or yourself, there are fun and creative ways to make your celebration one that will help create more birthdays for years to come.
To get your guests moving, pick an action-oriented theme for your birthday celebration — pool parties, soccer games, dance parties, or scavenger hunts are great fun for kids and grown-ups alike. There’s nothing like a little healthy competition!
If you’re hosting an outdoor party, have sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and extra hats on hand for guests who might have forgotten them. If you’re hosting your celebration indoors, find a smoke-free restaurant or venue or have it at your house and remind guests that cigarettes aren’t welcome.
We know birthdays are about celebrating, but you can have your cake and stay healthy, too. There are plenty of healthy and delicious foods you can choose to share with your guests. Consider serving low-fat snacks like popcorn, pretzels, and baked chips and salsa and healthy meal options like grilled chicken or shrimp skewers. You can bake healthier, too, by making your birthday cake from scratch so you can control the ingredients and make smart substitutions like swapping butter for applesauce.
Give the gift of more birthdays.
Joining the movement to create a world with more birthdays isn’t limited to your own special celebration. By giving birthday gifts to friends and loved ones throughout the year with health and wellness in mind, you can help the people you care about look forward to more candles to light. Here are some creative gift ideas to help people stay well:
For cooks or want-to-be cooks:
Package flavored oils and vinegars in a large bowl made for salads.
Create a basket filled with healthy cooking utensils such as an apple corer, zester, lemon/lime juicer, garlic crusher, ginger, and nutmeg graters.
For the portion size conscious cook (and eater), consider giving a food scale, measuring cups, and/or attractive measuring spoons.
Create a basket with cheese, crackers, and fresh fruit, with perhaps a decorative cheese spreader.
Package dried fruits and nuts in a unique serving dish with pretty cocktail napkins.
Collect your favorite healthy recipes and give them in a recipe journal so they can also record their own.
Give a cooking class gift certificate.
Give a subscription to a favorite healthy cooking magazine.
Give a gift certificate to your favorite local healthy restaurant.
For those wanting to be more active:
Give a gift certificate to a local athletic shoe and apparel store.
Include a step counter/pedometer with an mp3 player.
Package a jump rope, exercise band, set of hand weights, and/or workout ball for an all around healthy workout.
Make coupons for babysitting so your friend can work out while you watch the kids.
Make workout buddy coupons and commit to get up three days a week to walk before work with your friend, if that’s what she wants to do.
Give a gift certificate for a tennis lesson, packaged with a water bottle and flashy colored tennis balls.
Give a gift certificate for a golf lesson, with a book on the best public courses to play (and encourage your golfing buddy to join the USGA Walking Member Program).
Give a gift subscription to a favorite health magazine such as Fitness, Runners World, Walking, Golf Digest, Bicycling, etc.
Give an exercise mat and workout tapes or CDs for home use.
Volleyball net and ball.
Badminton racquets and shuttlecocks.
A yearly pass to a local or national park.
Thanks in part to the efforts of the American Cancer Society, eleven million cancer survivors will mark their birthdays this year. What’s not to celebrate about that?
To join me and the Society in the movement for more birthdays, visit www.morebirthdays.com.
Food is huge right now. We’ve got The Food Network with programming around the clock, cookbooks flying off the shelves as people spend more time in the kitchen, and chefs are the new rock stars. And yet, for 1 in 8 people in the United States hunger is a reality. Worldwide the statistics are much worse. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, and one-third is starving. Approximately 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and about 8 million actually die from it each year.
September is Hunger Action Month. And there’s no better time to take action than right now. Feeding America, formerly named America’s Second Harvest, is one organization that is working hard to solve the hunger crisis. It is a network made up of individuals, local food banks, and national offices, as well as corporate and government partners. Feeding America secures food and grocery products on a national level and distributes as needed to local food banks. For every $1 donated, Feeding America provides 10 pounds of groceries to hungry people.
Many children in the United States rely on free or reduced-priced school lunches during the school year. And this is often the only meal they get each day. During weekends and school vacations these children go hungry. Feeding America has come up with the “BackPack Program” to help these kids. The program started at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in backpacks to carry home with them. Now the program serves more than 90,000 children each year.
Action Against Hunger is working on a global basis. Their program areas include nutrition, water and sanitation, food security, health and advocacy. They have started the Campaign to End Malnutrition. They say that the loss of life from malnutrition is all the more tragic because acute malnutrition is preventable, predictable, and cost-effective to treat. And they have a plan in place to save lives. Visit their website for all the details.
And while we’re online, there’s something we can do, once a day, everyday, to help eradicate world hunger. Just go to TheHungersite.com and click on the “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. Since June, 1999, more than 300 million visitors have given more than 657 million cups of staple food. The food funded by clicks is paid for by the site sponsors and distributed to those in need by Mercy Corps, Feeding America, and Millennium Promise. 100% of sponsor advertising fees go to the aid of hungry people around the world. Besides clicking the button, which costs visitors nothing, we can also help by shopping in The Hunger Site store. With each item purchased, shoppers generate funds for the hungry. The store offers a wide variety of items to show support as well as fair-traded and handcrafted items from around that world that help families and communities pull themselves out of the poverty and hunger cycle.
Here’s another innovative way to help solve the world food problem. I love it when I find a site where I can have fun, learn and also do something good for the world, and that’s just what I found at FreeRice.com. With you play a game to improve your vocabulary. For every word you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to hungry people through the United Nations World Food Program. The game is challenging, even though it is multiple-choice. If you correctly guess the meaning of a word, you get a more difficult one next. If you get it wrong, you get an easier one. If you’re online playing games anyway, you might as well play this one. You’ll learn some new words, and help feed people in need at the same time.
Knowing about all the hungry people in the world gives us more reason to be grateful every time we sit down to eat. And now we can take action to help feed people every time we sit down at our computers. Every dollar counts, every click counts, every grain of rice counts to those who are hungry.
Water is something that many of us take for granted. It is a necessity, and it is readily available to us. We turn on the faucet and there it is, clean, safe, drinkable. We shower in it, water our gardens with it, and wash our clothes with it. But for many people around the world, clean water is a luxury they can only dream about.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 884 million people are without adequate drinking water, and 2.5 billion people are without adequate water for sanitation. Waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death for children under age five. Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from waterborne diseases. The World Bank says that 88 percent of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene.
How did we get in this situation? The world’s population tripled in the 20th century, and the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. The population is expected to increase another 40-50% in the next fifty years, and this will have an inevitable impact on the environment. Water resources are stressed. There is less water available for agriculture as well, which means that our food supply is threatened, which contributes to the hunger crisis. And the water crisis and the climate crisis are closely related, one affects the other.
Fortunately, there are some amazing organizations doing something about this. Water.org, co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, focuses on water and sanitation. One way they are helping is providing loans to individuals and families so that they can use the money to connect their homes to a water source. When people don’t have to spend their time walking long distances for clean water, they have more time to work and earn money for their families. And the children are more likely to go to school, which means they’ll be able to have a better future. The microfinancing loans are paid back very quickly. has another program in place where a $25 donation will give one person clean water for life. For a $100 donation you can help an entire family. The money goes towards community organizing, hygiene education, geological surveys, project costs, and maintenance.
also has several amazing downloadable lesson plans for schools and teachers to coincide with World Water Day, an annual event March 22. The site also lists several ways that kids can get involved in helping to find solutions to the water problem.
Guy Laliberte, the co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, has created a wonderful video to explain the water crisis, and what we can do to help. It’s definitely worth a visit to his website onedrop.org and it’s free.
I live in Southern California and we’re currently experiencing a drought. Of course this is nothing compared to what is going on in Africa and Asia, but knowing what we do about the importance of water to our own survival, it is difficult to fathom how we could still be building and maintaining so many wasteful private swimming pools, golf courses, and elaborate decorative fountains. Excess is out, people! Downsize, conserve, simplify. We need to stop thinking like consumers and start thinking like citizens. We need to watch out for each other, and future generations. There are lots of things we can do, and most of them we know about already, we just have to be mindful and take action. When my washing machine conked out after years of wear, I purchased a front-loading washer that uses 14 gallons of water per load, compared with my older top-loading washer that used 40 gallons of water per load. That adds up to a big difference in water savings over the life of this one appliance. When we moved into our home four years ago we replaced all the original 1970’s era toilets with new ones that use a lot less water. If you still have an old toilet and can’t replace it just yet, you can install devices that reduce the amount of water that is used. Here are some other things we all can do to help conserve water and protect the quality of the water we do have:
- Rather than flushing unused or expired medications down the drain and into the public water system, return them to the pharmacy to be disposed of properly.
- Use both sides of a sheet of paper. Save a tree and you also save water.
- Use environmentally-friendly hygiene and cleaning products. Think about the chemicals that are going down the drain and into the water system.
- Carry your own reusable water container rather than buying bottled water.
- Eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. For the most impact, consider going vegetarian. If everyone in the U.S. are vegetarian just one day, we would save 100 billion gallons of water.
- Take shorter showers, and install low-flow showerheads. Every minute you shorten your shower by saves about 5 gallons of water.
- Turn off the water while shaving, brushing teeth, or washing your face.
- Make sure that your home is leak-free. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. It the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak somewhere.
- Operate the dishwasher and washing machine only when they are fully loaded.
- Compost instead of using the kitchen sink disposal when you can.
- Insulate water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster and also avoid wasting water while it heats up.
- Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain your plants and irrigation system so that you save time, money and water
- Water your lawn only during the early morning hours when the temperatures and wind speed are the lowest to prevent water loss from evaporation.
- Sweep, don’t hose down walkways and driveways.
- Raise the lawn mower blad to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture more efficiently.
- Mulch to retain moisture and also control weeds that compete with plants for water.
- To wash your car, use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
- Spread the word about the world water situation, and set an example for your friends and family.
“Eat, Pray, Love” has spiritual seekers everywhere following in Elizabeth Gilbert’s footsteps — literally — traveling to Italy, India and Bali on an adventure of a lifetime. And now that Julia Roberts has followed suit on the big screen, it is likely that many more will make the sojourn to these exotic locations in pursuit of something to “marvel” at. There is much to marvel at anytime you travel. Everything is new, and different. It opens your eyes, engages the senses. Travel is an amazing opportunity to learn and grow through new experiences.
And yet, as Confucius stated so plainly: “No matter where you go, there you are.” The spiritual journey is a journey within. We don’t need to climb a mountain in Tibet to achieve the kind of inner peace we so desperately crave. We don’t need to go anywhere, we don’t even need to do anything, to find ourselves in a place of balance and bliss.
So, given that we can’t all jet off to foreign countries on a whim, let’s go on our own spiritual quest, right where we are, starting with “eat.”
Tantra teaches us that we experience the world through our five senses. Taste is definitely one of those senses where we can experience much pleasure — and given the cuisine, one might even say nirvana. When eating, the sense of smell also comes into play; the aroma heightens the anticipation, and enhances the flavors. Sight is involved with food. We’ve learned from the many Food Network shows how important presentation is in a meal. When food looks good, we’re more likely to perceive it as tasting good. Touch is in the texture of the food. How does it feel in your mouth? And even sound is in food — from the sizzle on the grill to the crunch of that perfect bite, to the oohs and aahs that emerge from satisfied diners.
Great pasta dinners aren’t only in Italy. We can cook, and have fun in our very own kitchen creating and experimenting with sauces and seasonings. Or we can find a lovely little neighborhood restaurant, and allow ourselves to be served with careful attention. Eating gives us a chance to indulge all of our five senses, to be present in the moment, to savor the experience and to be aware of the feelings that it evokes from deep within. When we are in present moment awareness there is no regret, fear or guilt. There is only gratitude. And that is a beautiful place to be.
“Pray” takes us into silence, into the stillness where all the wisdom of the universe can be found. Our busy world is filled with commotion. We are inundated with errands and emails and obligations. Our lives are slaves to the clock and the calendar, scheduled out farther that we even care to plan. But when we meditate, there is no time and space. The world seems to stop; our mind begins to quiet. Gone are the commercials and the traffic and the to-do lists. Suddenly we become aware of our breath, which brings us back to ourselves. We listen, and answers come, truth reveals itself, calmness settles in.
We could be in a temple, some historically preserved monument. Or we could be right where we are, perhaps smack dab in the middle of the couch. It doesn’t matter, because it’s all the same, it’s all connected. When we get together and meditate in groups, the experience is amplified. Energy rises, and circulates, and infuses each participant. Take that time away from the busyness, shut off the phone, unplug from technology — get back to nature, get back to yourself and you’ll remember who you are.
“Love” is all about relationships. And life is all about love. Who we love, and what we love. When we are doing what we love and also helping people, then we have found our “dharma” or purpose in life. There is nothing more fulfilling. If there is anything this world needs more of, it is love. We can never get too much of it! Extend yourself beyond your comfort zone, beyond the parameters that have been self-imposed, and reach out to someone with love. It’s easy to love a baby, or a kitten. So innocent and sweet, so receptive and accepting. The challenge is for us to love something or someone that might appear to us to be unlovable. The rejected, the downtrodden, the messy, the annoying. Yet when we do open our hearts, and we allow that love to pour forth, we feel an influx of love coming right back to us.
Love the moment, every moment. Love where you are, wherever that is. Marvel at your surroundings, the miracles that extend in and around the immediate environment. Everything that is here is here for you. The ground yearns for your footsteps. You love, and you are loved completely.
When you implement these simple techniques, what starts as a holiday becomes a habit. That habit then becomes a lifestyle. It’s a matter of mindfulness. We have the opportunity to practice every day, every moment, anywhere we are.
My new e-course with Daily Om is 9 Weeks to Joyful Living. You pick the price! Do the exercises and you’ll find you are living a life filled with elegance, joy, and simplicity. Once you do that, you can’t go back.
It happens at least once a week, the ritual trek to the local grocery store. We need food, we need supplies, we are creatures whose needs must be met and this is how we do it. It’s more convenient than growing our own vegetables, or baking our own bread. And although we may not get the same satisfaction that our ancestors did by working the land, we are in a sense doing our own harvesting by what we choose, and how we shop at the supermarket.
Here are some ways that we can get the most out of the experience, and turn what could possibly be mundane into something rather special and spiritual. This is how we can “bloom where we are planted” even if that happens to be in the middle of suburbia.
Bring your own bags. This seems like such a simple thing to do, and yet when you look around at the other shoppers, how many people actually do it? In Europe there is not the option of paper or plastic. You bring your own bag or you carry your purchases out in your arms. We did an informal survey recently in front of our neighborhood market and found that although most people thought this was a good idea, they hadn’t gotten themselves in the habit. (You can see the video we made up on CoffeyTalk.tv.) Make this conscious choice. Carry your bags in your car so they are there for you when you need them. It’s one little contribution towards making the world a better place.
After you park, if you see a stray cart in the lot, take it with you into the store. Many carts are left loose in the parking lot only to bump into cars, or block the way as someone is trying to open their car door. Returning a cart is being a good citizen, and also setting a good example.
Many stores have now been kind enough to provide anti-bacterial wipes at their entries so that we can wipe down the handle of the cart. Use them to protect yourself and others from germs that are easily passed around in public places. And when you’re done with the wipe, dispose of it carefully in the container provided.
When shopping for produce, choose fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. Shipping from far away places puts a burden on the planet by requiring extra fuel to get items where they need to be. Also, be aware of packaging. Again, reuse bags from home, or don’t bother to use bags at all when selecting your produce. Select one thing that you might not have tried before — open yourself up to new culinary possibilities!
Consider your time in the market as an opportunity to practice present-moment awareness. Be fully present when choosing your items. Smile at the people sharing this experience with you. This is a community, and you are an important part of it. Be grateful for the store employees who work so hard to keep the place neat and orderly so that you can find what you are looking for. Marvel at the abundance of choices that we have before us.
Think about the many ways that you can be a conscientious consumer. Rather than buying paper napkins, use cloth napkins at the table for dinner. Rather than using paper towels to clean, use dishcloths and rags. Rather than using cleaning products with chemicals, investigate the many natural alternatives, such as vinegar, that can be used just as efficiently with less impact on the planet. Take lunch boxes or cloth lunch bags to work or school instead of using paper lunch bags. These are all the little things that end up making a big difference. Consciously participate in green living.
Read labels to know what you are putting into your body. There are so many options now, so check the shelves for products that are lower in sugar, sodium and fat. Opt for healthier alternatives, like whole grains and higher fiber cereals.
More and more people are deciding on a vegetarian or even vegan lifestyle. Even if you don’t want to commit all the way, try going meat-free at least one day a week.
If you have a full cart of groceries and someone behind you in line has just one or two items, practice kindness by offering to let them go ahead of you. If someone ahead of you is having trouble getting credit approval, or is taking a long time to write out a check, this is an opportunity to practice patience and compassion.
When checking out, have your discount cards or coupons ready so as not to keep the people behind you in line waiting longer than necessary. Make sure to present your bags to the bag-person before he or she starts to pack. If there is no one helping the cashier to bag the groceries, pitch in and help yourself. Always show gratitude for the help you were given by expressing thanks.
Everything in life, every moment we live, can be a meditation, a learning experience. With this state of mind, we can turn something like grocery shopping, which we might have thought of as a chore, into an adventure.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018
Media Contact: Stephanie Marshall firstname.lastname@example.org
New Vertical Farming Initiative will Provide Cutting Edge Scientific Educational Opportunities for Elementary Students and Enhance School Farm to Cafeteria Program
As Spring weather FINALLY arrives on the East Coast and gardeners and farmers eagerly await the planting season, Hopewell Elementary School Students in New Jersey have been enjoying fresh, organic produce they grow indoor all year
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University’s Vertical Farming Project announced they will partner with Hopewell Elementary School in Hopewell, New Jersey to develop their vertical farm-to-cafeteria program.
Fifth grade teacher at Hopewell Elementary, Helen Corveleyn oversees the school’s outdoor garden beds, six indoor vertical hydroponics towers and has been instrumental in their new vertical farming initiative partnership with Princeton. Corveleyn will work closely with Princeton University’s Dr. Paul Gauthier, founder and director of the Princeton Vertical Farming Project to develop the program at the elementary school. The on-site, indoor classroom will be fully functioning in September 2018 and will allow preschool through fifth grade kids to mirror Princeton’s program while providing kids with fresh, organic produce for lunch and an invaluable introduction to hands on, cutting edge scientific development.
The Princeton Vertical Farming Project focuses on the sustainability and energy efficiency of vertical farming as they study production rates of hydroponic engineering systems along with marketing and economic feasibility. Gauthier says, “Two of the main challenges that vertical farms are facing revolve around awareness and data sharing. Through establishing a resonant collaboration with the Hopewell Elementary School, the Princeton Vertical Farming Project hopes to educate new generations about the benefits of vertical farming, and to inspire them to expand their knowledge through the application of new, groundbreaking research and technologies, which the farm has been producing. Furthermore, this collaboration will create citizen science datasets, which will contribute to the improvement of the vertical farming field as a whole. By inspiring students today, we hope to shape the future of farming and reduce human impacts on the environment.”
Room to Grow–Princeton Vertical Farming Project Video:
Elementary students and teachers have embraced the homemade, nutritious lunch options infused with organic ingredients served in Hopewell Elementary’s cafeteria. Their community is excited for the new vertical farming initiative with the goal of featuring 100% of the lettuce in the cafeteria grown at the school. Additional vegetables and herbs will be grown, harvested and featured as well. Principal David Friedrich’s passion for locally sourced, homemade, organic food for his students is evident in the Organic Menu offered at Hopewell. The menu is now in its third year and has seen a 50% increase in participation from the start. Principal Friedrich says, “At Hopewell Elementary School, we are thrilled to expand the vertical farming initiative which reinforces our commitment to sustainability. As the first public school in New Jersey to offer an organic menu featuring homemade entrees, we will now be able to prepare more nutritious meals infused with our own vegetables and herbs grown and harvested by students. The project also supports hands-on, relevant and high-quality science instruction aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.”
Dr. Thomas Smith, Superintendent of Schools, remarked, “Lead by Mrs. Corveleyn and Principal David Friedrich, the Hopewell Elementary School has been a driving force in our district-wide sustainability efforts. The vertical farming project has captivated the interest of students and staff. By bridging the gap between science and nature, students can observe the real-life connection between farming and food by seeing what is necessary to grow and produce the food we eat. An important part of this project is that virtually all of the food grown in the vertical farm will be used in our school lunches.”
Children respond to living organisms in the classroom with excitement and passion. Typically in an elementary setting, animals and insects are a wonderful way to promote living organism studies, but at Hopewell Elementary School, they have captured a unique Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)–aligned curriculum that is plant-based and integrates both life science and chemistry. Corveleyn remarks, “No child is too young to understand hydroponics. The bottom line is, kids love planting something they know they can eat! Creating an opportunity for sustainable gardening for the future at a young age makes hydroponics not just a buzzword, but a way of life.”
Hopewell Elementary secured several grants to sustain the vertical farming project:
Sustainable Jersey / New Jersey Education Association ($10,000)
BASF Corporation ($5,000)
Hopewell Valley Education Foundation ($4,400)
Hopewell Elementary School PTO ($7,000)
Photo credit, David Friedrich. Additional photos available upon request.
Just a short drive from the heart of Los Angeles there’s an amazing resort and spa that gives you the feeling that you are on a luxury vacation! Pechanga Resort Casino is located in Temecula, California and includes a casino and golf course along with its spa, swimming pool and other amenities. Greg and I recently spent the weekend there and had a fabulous time!
We arrived Friday evening, checked in, had a quick bite and then went to their Comedy Club for some drinks and entertainment. Lots of laughs! Then we hit the hay early because we had an early wake-up time to go hot air ballooning!
The van picked us up at 5:30 am and drove us to the Europa winery, where A Grape Escape (HotAirTours.com) whisked us off to the field to meet our balloon. We watched the balloons fill up, and climbed into the basket with the rest of our group – and away we went! Up, up and away! I had no idea what to expect, but honestly, it was totally relaxing. Everyone had a great time. There’s no wind up there because you’re going with the breeze! The scenery was beautiful – lots of vineyards, and we got some amazing pics. The hour flew by quickly – it was a bright blue sky day and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Back at Pechanga I checked into the spa for my 10:30 appointment. The spa is all new, and totally GORGEOUS! They served me some orange-passionfruit-ginger infused water while I waited for my massage in a cozy white robe. This is the life, right? I got my choice of aromatherapy for the massage and it was delightful. Then a reflexology massage for my tired tootsies, and then a Sound Wave Massage on an anti-gravity recliner that took me off into a deep meditation. I could have stayed there all day – they have a beautiful whirlpool, sauna, steam room, sun porch, snack and hang-out room – very inviting and so refreshing.
Then it was off to lunch – Greg and I are vegan and the restaurants at Pechanga are super flexible and accommodating so we always had delicious meals. We split a strawberry salad with citrus vinaigrette and a taco bar -perfect food to eat while hanging out by the pool!
After lunch we participated in a cocktail class on the lawn where we learned how to make a margarita (it was Cinco de Mayo after all!) and a Mint Julep (it was also Kentucky Derby weekend!) and a Banana Colada. Good stuff to know! Greg is a big margarita fan, so this was likely his favorite part of the day.
Then we indulged in a little personalized, home-made aromatherapy products from Body Bliss back at the spa. Oooh – la- la!
We had just about enough time to shower and change for a lovely dinner in one of Pechanga’s 13 restaurants. When the chef heard that we were vegan he came out and said he’d create a special meal for us. We of course took him up on the offer and were not disappointed. We started off with a crunchy salad with quinoa and apples – and then a beautiful pasta primavera dish with kale pesto. Paired this with a delicious rose from one of the local wineries.
For dessert – the dessert bar was set up outside and included a variety of home-made sorbets – the mango was my fave! They also had decadent macarons in every flavor you could imagine, and a variety of ice cream sandwiches.
The next morning, while the rest of our group golfed, Greg and I opted to sleep in, then take in the view of the course during a hearty breakfast. Strawberry and blueberry waffles… yummy!
We got so much fun into such a short amount of time! If you’re looking for a weekend getaway for romance, or with family or friends, Pechanga has a lot to offer. Oh, yes, they have a casino, too! 😀
About Pechanga Resort & Casino
Pechanga Resort & Casino offers one of the largest and most expansive resort/casino experience anywhere in the United States. Voted the Number One casino in America by the readers of USA TODAY and rated a Four Diamond property by AAA since 2002, Pechanga Resort & Casino provides an unparalleled getaway. Offering more than 4,000 of the hottest slots, table games, world-class entertainment, 517 hotel rooms, dining, spa and championship golf at Journey at Pechanga, Pechanga Resort & Casino features a destination that meets and exceeds the needs of its guests and the community. Pechanga Resort & Casino is owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. For more information, call toll free 1-888-PECHANGA or visit www.Pechanga.com. Follow Pechanga Resort & Casino on Facebook and on Twitter @PechangaCasino. Pechanga Resort & Casino is open 24-hours. Guests must be 21 and older to enter the casino.
The brain is one of the vital organs of the body, being responsible for a wide range of functions and abilities.
When it comes to boosting one’s brain power, there is some alternative available, including meditation, deep breathing, and physical exercise. But did you know that you can enhance your brain’s functioning abilities through your diet? More importantly, there are certain spices and herbs which can be used for such purposes.
Keep on reading and discover the best choices you have available. And, remember, the brain requires healthy food to function at its best capacity.
When it comes to herbs for brain health, thyme is one of the best choices one can make. This is because thyme is rich in volatile oils, which can increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids within the body (and especially the brain).
These fatty acids are essential for the health of the brain, protecting against neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Consumed on a regular basis, thyme provides the brain with healthy antioxidants; moreover, it has a positive effect whereas learning and memory are concerned.
The beneficial properties of thyme have been confirmed by various studies, including one published in the Journal of Applied Biology & Biotechnology.
Turmeric is also known as the golden spice, is often used to add flavor to Indian dishes.
It is one of the best spices that can keep your brain healthy – it contains an active substance, curcumin, which has been known to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia (Alzheimer’s disease).
Turmeric has potent antioxidant properties, being able to protect the brain against degeneration and memory loss.
Turmeric works to stimulate the release of happiness hormones in the brain, being perfect for those who suffer from depression.
The effects of turmeric about Alzheimer’s disease have been presented in a study published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology.
Sage is an herb that we often use in the kitchen, but not many people are aware of its beneficial effects on brain health.
In fact, when you ask yourself how to improve memory, you can consider sage to be one of the top answers.
The active substance known as carnosic acid is primarily responsible for the beneficial properties of sage, including when it comes to preventing the damage done by free radicals (antioxidant activity).
Sage has been known to be a suitable remedy for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
A study presented online confirmed the antioxidant properties of sage and its beneficial effects for the above-mentioned conditions.
- Black pepper
Black pepper can be added to a wide range of dishes, to enhance their flavor. From a health-related perspective, it seems that black pepper can stimulate the release of beta-endorphins at the level of the brain.
These are responsible for making us feel good. Hence we stand a lot to gain by consuming a black pepper. It has also been confirmed that black pepper can improve the overall cognitive functioning.
Given such benefits, it should come as no surprise that black pepper is recommended to those who are suffering from mood disorders.
A scientific article published in Food Science detailed the health benefits of black pepper.
Oregano is one of the best herbs to be used in the kitchen, given its amazing flavor.
It is also an excellent choice when it comes to boosting your brain power; this has to do with its rich content in antioxidants and its capacity of neutralizing free radicals (thus preventing damage at the level of the brain). Consumed regularly, it can improve the cognitive function and also regulate the mood, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety.
Oregano can also be consumed by those who are interested in improving their learning and concentration abilities.
The increased antioxidant activity of oregano has been confirmed in a scientific article which was published in Food Science.
These are just some of the many herbs and spices that you can use, to boost your brain power.
As you have seen, many of these have potent antioxidant properties – they can protect the brain against the damage done by free radicals.
They also work to reduce the risk of cognitive decline, which is normally associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. You can consume these on a regular basis, to improve your memory and learning abilities.
Moreover, these herbs and spices can regulate the production of happiness hormones within the brain – because of this; they can represent excellent weapons against depression, anxiety and mood swings.
You can also consume other herbs and spices for similar benefits, including rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Has Wheat Been Found Guilty Without a Fair Trial?
Excerpted from Eat Wheat
Has gluten been found guilty without a fair trial? It wouldn’t be the first time an innocent food was given a life sentence. For example, after almost 60 years of so-called “hard science” condemning cholesterol, we now find out that the interpretation of the science was flawed and high cholesterol saturated fats, such as butter, have been officially taken off the FDA’s nutrient concern list.
Is it possible that we have wrongfully given gluten the boot as well, along with dairy and other commonly allergenic foods such as eggs, soy, corn, fish and nuts?
Today, there are millions of people without celiac disease or severe dairy allergies who are electing to be gluten-free and/or dairy-free, not because they are actually allergic to these foods, but because of their food sensitivities, or simply because these foods have been labeled as dietary “no-no’s.” It is the aim of this book to share the compelling scientific and clinical evidence that gluten—along with other specified foods, such as dairy—is often not the underlying issue in the case of digestive woes and food sensitivities.
For many, the underlying issue is actually a broken down digestive system caused by:
- Overeating certain food groups, resulting in inflamed skin that lines the intestinal tract.
- Making poor food choices that slowly break down digestive strength and gut health.
- Preparing and eating certain foods at the wrong times and in the wrong ways.
- Eating out of season.
- Eating commercially processed bread and dairy that contains herbicides, pesticides (sometimes even genetically engineered pesticides), antibiotics, preservatives, cooked oils and growth hormones that our bodies were never designed to digest.
All of these actions compromise our digestive strength. It’s no wonder so many people are no longer able to properly digest these foods!
A Brief History of Gluten
It’s important to know that gluten is not the new kid on the block. There is archeological evidence of flour from wild cereal grains made in (what is now) Europe from around 30,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic era. (22) And, around 10,000 years ago, with the widespread rise of farming and agriculture during the Neolithic era, bread and cereals became seasonal dietary staples. (1-3)
Contrary to what we have been led to believe, our early ancestors may have eaten much more grass, grain and wheat than previously thought, as the Ice Age forced them to venture out of the tropical rain forests into the grassland savannas, and look for new food sources.
Field studies have shown that a human can gather enough wheat berries from a field to supply enough nutrition for the entire day in just 2 hours, so why wouldn’t early humans gather the easy-to-obtain grains from the grasslands as a mainstay of their diet? New findings suggest they did. (4,5)
In the same groundbreaking report out of the University of Utah, the earliest evidence of human ancestors scavenging already-dead meat did not appear until 2.5 million years ago. Moreover, definitive evidence that humans hunted for their food does not appear until 500,000 years ago. (6,7)
As for our direct human ancestors, this study suggests that about 3.4 million years ago, the hominin, Australopithecus afarensis and other human relatives ate, on average, 40 percent grasses, which included gluten rich barley and wheat. By 1.7–2 million years ago, early humans ate 35 percent grasses and some scavenged meat from grazing animals, while another nearby hominin, Paranthropus boisei, was eating 75 percent grasses, including wheat.
To be precise, according to the science, we should be making the case that humans have less genetic experience eating meat than we do wheat. (6,7)
As the studies show, humans have been eating gluten for a very long time. Why is it that, suddenly, after so many thousands or millions of years of eating wheat and other glutinous grains as in-season dietary staples, eating a gluten-free diet is now one of the most prominent dietary trends?
As a strong digestive system is required to break down and eliminate ingested environmental chemicals and pollutants—which are, yes, even on your organic produce—healing the digestive system is more important now than ever before. A new EPA analysis reports that almost 4 billion pounds of chemicals—62 million of them carcinogenic—are released into the environment each year in the U.S. alone. (9)
If you cannot tolerate wheat and dairy now, but once could, or you have found yourself slowly removing foods from your diet over the years, then this may be a sign that your ability to both digest and detoxify is compromised, which also puts you at risk for unnecessary exposure to the dangerous chemicals and toxins in our environment.
Some Facts, For Starters
While this subject is hotly debated, there is good science suggesting the original wild wheat, with less exposure to the environmental toxins of our modern world, may have had gluten levels that reached almost twice the amount of gluten in today’s wheat! (1,8) Suggesting that, based on gluten levels alone, the original wild wheat was a much harder grain to digest compared to today’s wheat.
When researchers compared the gliadin components of gluten from 2 ancient wheat varieties, Kamut and Graziella Ra with modern varieties, the ancient wheats had total gliadin and alpha-gliadin levels that were almost twice as high as the modern wheat varieties. Alpha-gliadin is considered the indigestible toxic form of wheat that is linked to many of the gluten sensitivity symptoms. (1,8)
In another study, inflammation markers were measured on 22 people who ate either the ancient wheat, Kamut, or a modern wheat strain for 8 weeks. The group that ate the Kamut, where they found almost twice the amount of toxic gliadins in the previous study, saw a more than 2 times reduction in the common inflammatory markers associated with gluten sensitivity compared to the group that ate the modern wheat. How could the wheat with the highest toxic gliadin levels be almost twice as anti-inflammatory as the wheat with the least amount of gluten and gliadins? (10)
In that same study, the Kamut lowered total cholesterol, fasting blood sugar and increased magnesium and potassium levels in the blood compared to the modern wheat, suggesting that the ancient wheats are a much better choice, even though they may have more gluten and gliadins. (10) I agree.
Here is the scenario we find ourselves in: We are blaming gluten and it’s gliadins as the cause of our digestive imbalances, yet ancient wheat may have had almost twice the gluten that modern wheat does, and people have been eating gluten for millions of years. How could it be that suddenly gluten has become such an issue? How could our modern gluten be solely responsible for the recent litany of health concerns and food sensitivities?
Ancient grain varieties were also traditionally prepared differently. They were often soaked, sprouted, and fermented before consumption, rendering them easier to digest and increasing their nutritional value. These practices, which are also in use today, can almost completely break down gluten, boost mineral content, increase levels of amino acids like lysine that make nutrients more easily absorbed and break down anti-nutrients like phytic acid. (11-13)
Certain studies show that although there has been an increase in celiac-based gluten intolerance in the second half of the 20th century,32 there is no evidence that this rise is due to an increase of the gluten content in wheat. In fact, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the gluten content in wheat during the 20th and 21st century has been relatively stable since wheat processing began in the late 19th century, and the average consumption of wheat flour in America has decreased by a whopping 86 pounds per person per year from the year 1900–2008. (1)
Toxins and Sugar: Guilty as Charged
Early farmers who first domesticated wheat selected seeds that were larger and easier to remove when threshing. The larger the wheat seed, the more starch (sugar) and less protein the grain had. Since the gluten content in wheat is proportional to the protein content, ancient domesticated wheat gradually increased in sugar content while decreasing in gluten, gliadins and protein. (1)
As wheat became increasingly processed, the glycemic index (how quickly a food breaks down and enters the bloodstream, creating a rise in blood sugar) of commercialized wheat products spiked. For example, a slice of processed white bread or large dinner roll is about a 70 on the glycemic scale, while a slice of 100 percent stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel rates in at about 55.
The famed “wheat belly” is better termed “sugar belly” as many of the wheat sensitivities and studies linking gluten to these health concerns are more a result of excess sugar. Refined carbohydrates, such as processed white bread, quickly convert to sugar in the bloodstream.
This explosion of sugar from a high glycemic diet can cause every single symptom we have that is currently linked to gluten. In fact, much of the science supporting the grain brain theory, which links wheat to an increased risk of dementia, was based on the effect of sugar on the brain rather than the wheat itself. The theory suggested that wheat (and all grains for that matter) is the cause of high blood sugar and, thus, the smoking gun for Alzheimer’s disease. This theory is challenged by a number of studies that show wheat actually lowering blood sugar (14-17) and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. (23-28) Have we once again condemned an innocent grain, like we did with cholesterol, to the dangerous foods list, based on a flawed interpretation of the science?
Processed foods, preservatives, pesticides and toxins in the environment that filter into our food supply present a causative problem. Studies tell us that these toxins can change the proteins in wheat, (18-20) and wreak havoc on the helpful enzymes in our bodies that break down gluten and other hard-to-digest proteins. (21)
The good news: We have the ability to detoxify the toxins in foods, but it requires a strong digestive system. (22) Remember, the very same channels that help us digest foods like wheat and dairy are used by the body to detoxify environmental toxins.
So, while you may do your best to eat healthy, non-processed foods, it is my mission to help you learn how to boost your digestive and detoxification potential. It is your birthright to live a long, healthy, happy life, break bread and enjoy a freshly baked slice of bread with butter.
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