Happy New Year

Want to get ‘Lucky’ for the New Year?

Traditions vary from culture to culture regarding meals prepared to usher in an epic New Year. I find it fascinating that these foods are considered fate changers!

Grapes. New Year’s revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight; one grape for each stroke of the clock. The idea stuck, spreading to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents a different month, so if for instance the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure.

Cooked Greens. Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason; their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune

Legumes. In the Southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin’ john. Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind.

Pork. The custom of eating pork on New Year’s is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. Pork is consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.

 Sauerkraut.  The Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of mashed potatoes, pork roast and sauerkraut was created out of seasonal practicality more than true luck.  This is a tradition I am familiar with and except for the pork, still enjoy today.

Fish. Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year’s table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World’, cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages.

Cakes. Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year’s around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items.In certain cultures, it’s customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year.

Certain customs require leaving a bit of food on your plate past midnight to assure your pantry will be well stocked.

It’s always fun to look beyond your own customs and traditions. Whether you believe in ‘luck’ or not; food is an important part of our celebrations and heritage.

Many of these delightful cultural traditions derived from what was locally available and seasonal.

Food is meant to be enjoyed and provides our bodies with energy, health and vitality. The foods we consume truly can change our fate by creating good health.

source: Epicurious

Down on Your Luck?

Will consuming Sauerkraut on New Year’s bring you good luck?

It’s a tradition that I grew up with. We always had some form of Sauerkraut on both New Year’s Eve and the first day of the New Year. …And who am I to argue?

While I don’t eat pork (or any meat); I love Sauerkraut!

Don’t just save it for New Years, though. Fermented foods, such as Sauerkraut, are extremely healthy to include in your diet.

  • –Boosts the Immune System. Cabbage is rich in Vitamin C.
  • –Digestive Health. Cabbage is high in fiber, which keeps your digestive system moving.
  • –Eye and Skin Health. Carotene rich and loaded with Vitamin A.
  • –Hearth Health. Because it is a rich source of fiber; the fiber is able to scrape off dangerous cholesterol from the walls of arteries and blood vessels by binding with the fats and cholesterol and removing them from the body. Therefore, less cholesterol enters the bloodstream and your overall cholesterol level is balanced. This can prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and a variety of other cardiovascular issues.
  • –Bone Health. Sauerkraut contains a wide variety of minerals which help keep bones strong.
  • –Inflammatory Properties. Certain organic compounds found in s cabbage work as anti-inflammatory agents. Phytonutrient antioxidants contained in sauerkraut can double as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing the pain and discomfort of joints, muscles, or other inflamed areas.
  • –Cancer Protection. Although research is still underway to reveal the exact impact of sauerkraut on cancerous cells, the presence of antioxidant compounds in sauerkraut (as with all cruciferous vegetables) means that free radicals can be eliminated, which are one of the main causes behind cancerous cell formation.
  • –Energy. The high levels of iron found in cabbage (sauerkraut) can be very beneficial for the body. Iron helps to contribute to energy production, as it increases the body’s metabolism and also boosts circulation, which increases oxygenation of organs and cells.
  • –Gut Microbiome. Consuming fermented foods has a huge impact on the up to 2 kg of microbes in our gut. Researchers are learning more and more about how this gut bacteria – particularly the bacteria that is unique to us individually – influence our health and risk of disease.

So do enjoy your traditional Sauerkraut! Don’t save Sauerkraut for one or two days of the year!

Evolve…Don’t Resolve!

 

Evolve… don’t resolve!

ev·o·lu·tion (ĕv′ə-lo͞o′shən, ē′və-)
n.

A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

Why evolution is superior to resolution

The statistics vary, but generally suggest that approximately 50% of Americans will be making New Years Resolutions.

Yet of those approximate 50%, only about 8% will achieve some form of success in reaching those goals.

Here are the top 10 Resolutions that are expected to be made for the New Year (according to Statistic Brain Research Institute)

1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family

Let me repeat; Only about 8% will achieve some form of success in reaching those goals.

Why the high failure rate?

Most people tend to set goals that are not only overwhelming, but intangible. They set themselves up for failure, frustration and self-defeat by setting goals that are unrealistic. What’s more; many people use New Years Eve to create a ‘huge bucket list’ or ‘extreme makeover’ for their life. The problem is; most people have too many competing priorities for this approach to succeed.
This ‘shoot for the moon’ mindset generally never makes it far from the launching pad. Intentions may be good, but reality sets in.

By focusing on gentle evolution and transformation; flowing with the body’s natural rhythms, will provide a more successful and satisfying journey. Never forcing. Lifestyle change that creates energy, joy and quality to life.

The Great Holiday Clean Up

 

Steps to a Healthy and Natural Post Holiday Detox:

The Holidays are now behind us and if you are like most people, you may have ‘Decked the Halls’ a bit too much over the last few weeks.  That can be so easy to do, since our Holidays seem to revolve around rich, fat-laden meals, sugary, sweet treats and a few too many alcoholic toasts.

You may be ready for a major detox right about now.  I can almost hear the ranting–No More Candy!  No More Alcohol!  No More JUNK FOOD!

Be forewarned.  New research shows that a sudden transition away from fatty and sugary foods can cause symptoms similar to those seen during a drug withdrawal, according to an article in Prevention Magazine.   By making simple changes in your daily meal  plans, you can get your system back on track and minimize the ‘withdrawal’ effects of  cleaning up your diet.

Bear in mind that many of us were a bit sleep deprived over the Holidays.  This lack of sleep can aggravate irritability and enhance sugar cravings.  Make an extra effort to get your sleep pattern back on track and give your body the rest it deserves. Without proper sleep, your physique goals will suffer dramatically.

Here are some tips and steps to take to clean up your diet:

Concentrate you improving the quality of your meals.  By making sure your meals are well-balanced,  you can improve your blood sugar levels and make sure your metabolism is optimized.   This means, including high quality protein,  and fiber-rich carbohydrates, plus some healthy fat in your meal plan.   Eating every 3 to 4 hours will help keep your energy levels up and prevent blood sugar levels from dropping. These spikes in your blood sugar are what contribute to sugar cravings and a less than effective metabolism.

Hydrate!  I can’t stress enough the importance of drinking plenty of water throughout the day.   I also highly recommend drinking a ‘Green’ Juice or Smoothie for one your meals.  I will provide some delicious Green Smoothie Recipes in a post to follow.    Including a Probiotic is also very beneficial in aiding the body to get back on track.  Kefir is an excellent choice.  I prefer low fat, plain Kefir that is Organic, but if you simply cannot get past the taste, you may want to try a flavored Kefir.  You can find this in your dairy aisle.

Include alkaline-forming foods in your meal plan.  Include more alkaline-forming foods in your meals, such as parsley, kale, pears, and lemons, which balance the body’s pH levels, reduce inflammation, and keep blood sugar levels under control.

Foods that can naturally detox your body:

Onions.   This ubiquitous kitchen staple is as healthy as it is tasty. It’s brimming with sulfur-containing amino acids, which efficiently detox the liver. Raw onions deliver the most health benefits.

Beets.  This brightly colored root vegetable is a great source of betacyanin, which has cancer-fighting properties.   Plus, it’s full of magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium to help flush out toxins.

Basil.   Basil has anti-bacterial properties, and it’s full of antioxidants to protect the liver.

Ginger.  Kick your natural detox process into high gear by adding ginger to your diet. It spikes your metabolism and flushes out waste. Plus, a recent Columbia University study found that eating more ginger may help keep your appetite in check.

Pineapple.  This tropical delight contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that helps cleanse your colon and improve digestion.

Avocado.   Avocado is one of those fiber-rich foods I mentioned previously.   This will not only help your metabolism operate effectively, but will help to keep your colon cleansed due to its good source of  insoluble and soluble fiber.

Cinnamon.  Sprinkle this delicious spice on your morning bowl of Oats!    Not only will it taste good, but it’s loaded with iron, manganese and calcium.    Manganese is a good for helping regulate blood sugar levels and helping to process fatty acids.

Apples.  There are plenty of good reasons why the expression,  “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, ” has been quoted.  Apples are a great detox food. Theyare nutrient-rich, plus they contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps remove food additives and metals from your system.

Fennel.  Fennel is  a root vegetable that tastes like licorice, and it’s packed with dietary fiber that will help you flush out toxins and boost digestion.

Parsley.  Parsley is not just a  pretty garnish on your plate. Parsley boasts plenty of beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and K to protect your kidneys and bladder.

Mushrooms.  Shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms are types of mushrooms you look for.  All three are potent immunity enhancers. 

Magnesium-Rich foods.  Include foods that are rich in magnesium, such as pumpkin seeds,  or almonds.  Magnesium can help your body cope with the stresses of the Holiday.   Place serving-sized portions in ziploc bags to prevent overeating.  A serving of almonds is about 18 to 24 almonds and no more.

Asparagus.  Asparagus supplies inulin, a special fiber that helps the “good” bacteria in your digestive tract.

Cherries.  Cherries are high in antioxidants called anthocyanins, making them potent healers reduce inflammation and cleanse the joints. Cherries promote healthy connective tissue and clean out the free radicals, reducing “oxidative stress” – the stress created by free radical formation.  It has also been widely believed that tart cherries contain natural melatonin, which improves sleep.

Lemons.  Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which is known to help the body detox and burn fat.

Broccoli.  This green superstar is loaded with nutrition and health benefits.  Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a powerful phytonutrient that fights bacteria and helps the body detox naturally.

Garlic.  Research suggests that garlic seems to have a significant impact on the build-up of plaque in blood vessels.

Green Tea.  Green tea contain catechins, powerful antioxidants that can raise resting metabolism by 4% (about 335 kJ, or 80 cal, a day). A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition found that exercisers who drank the equivalent of approximately 4 cups of green tea a day for 12 weeks lost over 8 times more ab fat than those who drank an ordinary caffeinated beverage did. Researchers speculate that catechins (phytonutrients in green tea) may help speed the breakdown of fat.

Cabbage.  I’m sure you have heard of the Cabbage Soup Diet?   While I don’t recommend any ‘Fad’ Diet, there may have been some benefits to a pot of this delicious soup.  Cabbage contains fiber and 84% of your recommended intake of vitamin C.   Cabbage is a great detoxifying food.

Beetroot. Not only can beetroot help lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen that active muscles need, it can also help support liver detoxification, making it an ultimate detox food.  Beets can be a delicious ingredient in your Smoothies.

The key to a healthy and natural detox is avoiding processed foods.  The more processed foods you eat, the more unwanted ingredients, such as hidden sugars, fats, and sodium in your diet.  Be sure to include plenty of whole foods, such as vegetables, some fruits, and high quality, lean protein.

 

sources:  

Prevention Magazine

Huffington Post Healthy Living