Stand Strong: The 3 Mantras of a Healthy Back

My ultimate goal is to live a life that is full of adventure and excitement. As a person with a certain urge to travel and see the world through my very eyes, my experiences taught me that having that outgoing mentality alone does not make up for much thrill.

In the moments when I can’t even hike the trail leading to the place I wanted to see, or even walk the ridges in balance, I felt a sense of pity on myself. I felt that I should have done more for my body. The simple fact that I have realized is that my body should be healthy, capable and fit to enable me to fully enjoy the active lifestyle I so crave.

spine-example

When I was just starting my lifestyle outdoors, I was subject to many physical challenges along the way. I was subject to a variety of muscle and joint pains, fatigue and irritability. The most excruciating pain I had was the sharp sting from my back. Though it may be normal since my body was just getting used to the activities involved, I soon found out that my back pains were chronic. The many researches I’ve done and professionals I have talked with pointed out that I should make the necessary adjustments to keep my back healthy.

As we all know, the back supports our body to enable us to move around and to be upright. Without the sturdy bones composing our backs, we can never do what we can normally do right now. That equally means no walking, no running, no sitting and definitely no hiking. We would be just lying down the floor and slithering our ways to work.

Who would want that?

This is why it is important for us to take into account all the methods and approaches in making our backs as healthy as it could get.

Here are the 3 Mantras I have consolidated to stand as a guide for you, my avid reader.

Sit Right, Stay upright

The number one factor in keeping a healthy back is an obvious one – posture. Posture dictates how our bodies position itself upright while standing, sitting or even lying down. Good posture is one of the most important game changers in lessening the chances of the struggle of back pain.

good-posture

The thing is, most of us talk about the aforementioned so often, but we don’t really know what it is all about exactly.

So what really is good posture?

Technically speaking, good posture involves the training of our bodies to sit, stand, walk and lie down in the best upright position. What wonders it can bring is totally dependent on how we “train” our body to keep the healthy posture as to prevent any back-related repercussions. This is actually a very common thing that happens to a lot of people.

Personally, I saw that the main problem I had was that I had bad posture, and it took a while before I totally changed the way I sit, stand and walk.

One thing I did to try not to revert to bad posture is to train myself to be more mindful of my posture. When I look at myself at the mirror, I remind myself the elements of a good posture.

One thing I always keep in mind is to avoid lifting heavy load. For students, I suggest not to bring all books in one bag. Balance a weight that is comfortable for the arms and back, or better yet, try a stroller bag. This is because it actually puts more strain in our backs when we lift uncomfortably heavy things. Sometimes, it can also lead to serious back injuries and impairments.

The same is true for people who, like me, love to travel and go bag-packing. In addition, an environment which is managed and organized trains our minds to be mindful of what things to bring and not to bring which may add weight. Following a good posture also made me feel less stressed over time since my back is more relaxed.

Therapy equals Better Me

One common but incorrect notion is that therapy is only done to people with back pain. I have talked to people who regularly visit their physical therapists for their scheduled checkups. Right now, they reaped the benefits of being more active and lively. I tried my visits to a local therapist and found the relief that they were talking about.

Physical therapy enabled my body to be stretched out in ways that other intense exercises cannot. In fact, I already had multiple sessions with my local therapist and am planning to get in touch with a chiropractor soon!

We don’t realize that some of the techniques professionals in back health use are what we do at home. Techniques such as thermotherapy and cryothrapy are in fact our commonly known heat packs and ice packs. According to doctors, for acute pain or a new inflamed injury, use cryotheraphy or cold therapy.

exercising-back

Ice is the most common anaesthesia. The cold narrows blood vessels and slows down blood flow in the body, thus, it can reduce fluid build-up in the affected area. Ice generally helps control of inflammation and swelling. On the other hand, heat is a much more widespread treatment.

Thermotherapy or use of heat is more inclined for chronic pain because heat relaxes the overworked muscles by soothing sore muscles, stimulating blood flow, and relaxing spasms. Muscles actually develop soreness due to a naturally-occurring chemical called lactic acid.

Lactic acid accrues at the time once the muscle is deprived of oxygen, which happens when we do daily activities or work. When there is reduced blood flow to an impaired area, the lactic acid gets trapped, producing a build-up which generates muscle ache. Heat therapy stimulates the blood flow and hastens the taking away of lactic acid from muscles.

Healthy Eats and Faster Beats

Keeping ourselves in an active lifestyle is an arduous task that needs time, effort and money. Often reiterated by medical professionals and health consultants, the fundamental factors to maintain a truly healthy body is proper diet and exercise.

These two give way to a fit and healthier body that we all so desire. Imagine if we can live the life we always wanted – wear our favorite Stylewe dresses without any worry, engage in physical activities that we always wanted (like mountain climbing or hiking), or basically feel really well with our own body.

measuring-waist

Definitely, these two facets go hand in hand.

The same is true with back health.

A proper eating regimen to have a healthy back includes calcium-rich food, paired with a lot of vegetables to avoid inflammation. Also, avoiding processed food, fast food and saturated fat can help in preventing inflammation which these foods fuel.

Simply put, a proper diet is imperative for us who want to maintain a healthy back. However, a healthy diet can be readily accessible in the kitchen. The more evident work comes when we drive to the gym, burn those carbs and protein, and have that back stretched.

Furthermore, hiring a gym instructor prove to make it personally easier for me to exercise my back. There are various benefits I got when I hired my personal trainer in going about my workout. Not only did my trainer guide me in becoming fit and more confident with my body, they have so much more in store. They offered me some really good tips to keep my back stronger, and my whole body ready for anything that would come my way.

3 Mediterranean Recipes to help you fight Asthma and Allergies

Allergic Asthma and other types of allergies are extremely difficult to deal with. A lot of people from all ages can easily suffer from these types of diseases, but not all of them can cope with it. Surely, you have tried various ways to deal with it – drinking antihistamines, purifying your indoor air, or generally protecting your nose in every way possible. Then again, there is a more palatable route in dealing with this condition.

inhaler

And one of the most delicious ways to choose when dealing with allergies and asthma is going Mediterranean.

Mediterranean Diet: How it helps Allergies and Asthma

Many adults and children suffer from allergies and asthma. Their lungs are constantly bombarded by foreign bodies, or allergens, in the air. When these allergens – such as pollen and dust – enter the body, the immune system believes they are harmful. In an effort to protect itself, the body sends out antibodies to fight off these foreign materials.

Studies and researches have confirmed it: going Mediterranean in your diet helps children and adults cope with asthma. The survey of nearly 700 children living on the Greek island of Crete has showed that a high intake of nuts, grapes, tomatoes and oranges have been linked with a 50-80% lower risk of wheezing in 7 to 18 year olds.

Also, in hospitals and medical schools in Helsinki, Finland and Porto, Portugal, researchers have obtained information about the relationship of diet and asthma control in a group of individuals who had been previously diagnosed with asthma. Basing from past studies, these researches have aimed to enhance the knowledge that they had regarding the effects of Mediterranean diet to asthma.

multitude-of-veggies

What researchers found was really striking: only 25% of the participants had well-controlled asthma, and they were the same participants who closely followed a Mediterranean-diet food plan.

Since asthma is a form of allergy, allergic asthma specifically, and is commonly triggered by allergic reactions to pollen, mold, dust, or spores, experts have had their medical curiosity stirred. This has led into various studies on how Mediterranean diet is able to deal with allergies in general.

Surely, the best air purifier for allergies can easily help. Then again, when it comes to allergies such as allergic asthma, a more directed change in one’s diet can help combat the condition. Hence, going Mediterranean may be one of the easiest and most delectable ways to go.

The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy foods like grapes, tomatoes, and nuts. According to scientists, these foods provide the most benefits based on their antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants are known for their disease-fighting ability. They work to sop-up free radicals left in the body as a byproduct of a cell’s day-to-day functions.

So, if you’re looking for the easiest and tastiest Mediterranean recipes out there, here’s where you can start out:

Creamy and Leafy Shrimp Garlic Pasta

This fresh, light, and delicious – not to mention really easy – dish can send you on a Mediterranean trip right in your kitchen, all the while aiding those allergic defenses. Here’s how to make creamy garlic pasta with shrimp and vegetables.

shrimp-scampi

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined raw shrimp (preferably cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

 

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook 2 minutes less than package directions.
  2. Add shrimp, asparagus, bell pepper and peas, and cook until the pasta is tender, and the shrimps are cooked (approximately 2 to 4 more minutes on the stove). Drain well and set aside.
  3. Mash garlic and salt in a large bowl until a paste forms. Whisk in yogurt, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper.
  4. Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until fragrant. Do this for 2 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Serve with the toasted pine nuts on sprinkled evenly on top.

Turkey and Tomato Panini

These Paninis are one of the most common snacks in a Mediterranean diet, and it can easily be prepared in less than half an hour. A creamy spread full of Parmesan and fresh basil cozies up the turkey and summer-ripe tomato slices for a savory hot sandwich that will quickly become a go-to mealtime solution.

panini

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced reduced-sodium deli turkey
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

 

Preparation:Have four medium skillets ready for cooking by the stove.

  1. Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the mixture on each slice of bread.
  3. Place the deli turkey and tomato slices and top it with another bread slice. Do this on 3 more pairs of bread slices.
  4. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Place 2 panini in the pan.
  6. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down. Cook the panini until golden on one side (about 2 minutes on the skillet).
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet, and set until the second side is golden (about 1-3 minutes on the skillet).
  8. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini.

 

Mediterranean Breaded Salmon

Here’s a big meal for the family, prepared in just about an hour. You can indulge in a very nutritious breaded salmon dish served with a lot of healthy vegetables. Mediterranean style!

salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (9 oz) frozen baby lima beans
  • 1 medium eggplant, unpeeled, cut into fourths lengthwise, then crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup roasted red bell peppers (from a jar), drained, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 ¼ lb salmon fillet (1 inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

 

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line the 15x10x1/2-inch pan with heavy-duty foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.
  2. Place lima beans and eggplant in pan. If beans are frozen in solid block, microwave on high setting for about 1 minute or just long enough to break beans apart. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and toss. Spread in single layer in pan, and Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix bread crumbs, lemon peel, oregano leaves, garlic and olive oil in a bowl. This would serve as salmon topping.
  4. Remove pan from oven. Push vegetables to sides of pan, and place salmon skin side down in center. Brush salmon with 1 teaspoon oil, and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables in single layer around salmon.
  5. Gently press half of mixture, or about 1/2 cup, evenly on salmon. Sprinkle remaining topping over the vegetables.
  6. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork, and vegetables are crisp-tender. (If fish browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.)
  7. Spoon beans and eggplant into large heatproof bowl. Toss vegetables with roasted peppers and spinach. Cover the mixture with foil, and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted.
  8. Cut and prepare the salmon into 4 servings. Carefully lift fish from skin with pancake turner to serving plate. Serve salmon with vegetables.

Keeping Your Lungs Healthy with Cruciferous Vegetable Recipes

There shouldn’t be any sort of debate when you talk about how important lungs are. Then again, as the lungs are considerably strong organs, people often take its health for granted, and this could lead to various lung damages in the long run. The problem is that inhaling pollutants, smoke, or any other harmful chemicals are almost impossible to avoid. You can cover your nose all day every day, but your lungs would still be compromised.

lung-system

This is why you should start looking into improving the health of your lungs, and the first step is looking into what you eat. While there could be numerous kinds of food that can help the lungs, it is always good to take vegetables – cruciferous vegetables can greatly improve the health of your lungs and the rest of your body.

What are Cruciferous Vegetables

A cruciferous vegetable is any food that is a member of the cabbage family. They are generally packed with antioxidants that naturally help your body clear away toxins.

Scientifically speaking, cruciferous vegetables belong to the Cruciferae family, which mostly contains the Brassica genus, but does include a few other genus. Some of the most common ones are cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leafy vegetables. The family takes its alternate name (Cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing”) from the shape of their flowers, whose four petals resemble a cross.

green-veggies

Consumption of cruciferous vegetables might help protect smokers against lung cancer, according to a number of studies. Findings presented at the Seventh Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held in Washington, DC suggest a remarkable effect of these vegetables to one’s lung health. Studies suggest that the risk of developing lung cancer was reduced by 22% to 50% among smokers who consumed at least 4.5 servings of raw cruciferous vegetables a month, compared with those who consumed less than 2.5 servings per month.

It’s true that things like covering your nose and mouth, or installing the best air purifier in your home can contribute to your overall lung health. However, vegetables like these directly aid the fortitude of a human’s lungs from within because of its nutritional value.

Researchers reveal strong linear inverse associations between intake of fruits and vegetables versus the risk of lung cancer (odds ratio range, 0.53 – 0.70; P for trend < .05). An intake of fruits and total vegetables show a relatively stronger association among non-smokers, whereas significant inverse associations with cruciferous vegetable consumption have only been observed among smokers and former smokers.

 

Vegetables like these are pretty easy to play around when it comes to preparing dishes that are delicious and exciting at the same time. If you’re wondering how to prepare the perfect dish, read on and see which ones could tickle your taste buds. Here are some recipes that you can try out:

Braised Broccoli with Orange and Parmesan

braised-broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 head of broccoli, florets and stalks trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese shavings
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

Preparation:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the orange juice and tomatoes.
  2. Bring this to a boil and stir in the broccoli.
  3. Stir in the oregano and red pepper flakes, and then cook until the broccoli is just tender and bright green. Be mindful of not overcooking the vegetables, especially the broccoli.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a serving dish.
  5. Drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the cheese and almonds before serving.

Cauliflower Dumplings with Creamy Chicken Soup

cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 head organic cauliflower
  • leftover roasted chicken (approximately half a chicken)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock (additional)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, to taste
  • Scallions or Italian parsley

Preparation:

  1. Place the leftover roasted chicken into stock pot with 4 cups of water. Bring this to a boil, then cover and reduce temperature. Let this simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken from the stock, remove all of the meat (about 2 cups is needed) and set aside.
  3. Bring the stock back to a boil in order to concentrate the flavor. Reduce the stock to approximately two cups.
  4. While the broth reduces, divide the head of cauliflower in half. Chop one half of the cauliflower into florets. When the chicken broth has been reduced to about two cups, add the florets to the pot. Add in ¼ teaspoon of both dried thyme and ¼ tsp coarse sea salt. Cover and simmer the seasoned cauliflower florets until tender.
  5. Break down the second half of cauliflower and load into a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower until a fine rice texture is achieved. Transfer the grain-like bits to a microwave-safe bowl, cover and place in the microwave for 4-6 minutes or until well cooked.
  6. Once the cauliflower florets are cooked, puree them with the chicken stock to create a creamy base.
  7. Add the diced carrots and celery to the puree, additional two cups of chicken stock and salt and black pepper to taste. Allow this to simmer at medium-low temperature, allowing the carrots and celery to soften.
  8. While the vegetables are being processed, the dumplings need to be prepared.
  9. In small batches, spoon portions of the cauliflower into cheesecloth, wrap completely and twist hard to wring out all moisture.
  10. Place the strained, cooled cauliflower to a mixing bowl and add an egg, a quarter cup each of tapioca and coconut flours, plus a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring together with a spoon first in the bowl, then turn out onto a work surface to knead, shape into a square about a half-inch thick and slice into nine squares. Let rest.
  11. Stir in the shredded reserved chicken, do any final seasoning adjustments with your salt and pepper, then gently top the soup with the cauliflower dumpling squares. Allow them to float on the surface of the soup.
  12. Serve piping hot, topped with sliced scallions or fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley.

Bacon, Onion and Brussel Slaw

slaw

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages shredded brussel sprouts
  • 1 package nitrate-free bacon
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar

Preparation:

  1. Slice bacon and onion, and add to skillet
  2. Cook over medium heat until bacon starts to get crispy, and onions are brown
  3. Add balsamic to deglaze the pan, and scrape the bacon bits off the bottom using a wooden spoon
  4. Dump in the shredded brussel sprouts and mix everything together, adding more balsamic, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cover the pan, and let it steam over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Rich Recipes for Better Lung Health

Omega-3 fatty acids have been known to have a ton of health benefits. Surely, if you read “fat,” you have this preconception that it would be harmful for your body. Technically, fats are needed by the body in many of its functions. It is just that the unhealthy fats are the ones that have harmful side effects in the body. On the contrary, Omega-3 fatty acids help strengthen the body in many ways; More importantly, researchers and scientists found out that Omega-3 fatty acids have a direct and essential effect in lung health.

omega-3-foods

Compounds derived from omega-3 fatty acids – like those found in salmon – are key to helping the body combat lung infections. Not to mention that the food containing omega-3 fatty acids are really delicious!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids for the Lungs

An Indiana University study has found that a unique omega-3 supplement derived from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel significantly improved lung function in asthmatics who experience exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, also called exercise-induced asthma. This study has shown that omega-3 supplements are effective in reducing the airway inflammation experienced by asthmatic study participants.

fish-oil

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is most often caused by years of smoking, is characterized by inflammation and excessive mucus in the lungs that blocks airflow. Quitting smoking can slow the progress of COPD, but it doesn’t halt the disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common treatment. However, they suppress the immune system, which can put people with COPD at risk for secondary infections, most commonly NTHi bacterial infections.

Unlike other anti-inflammatory drugs, the specialized agent used in a study conducted by Richard Phipps, Ph.D. (professor of Environmental Medicine and director of the URSMD Lung Biology and Disease Program) has reduced inflammation in the lungs of mice without suppressing the ability to clear the bacteria. In fact, it could actually hasten the process of clearing bacteria. Phipps and his colleagues believe they are the first to show that this special compound can improve lung function in the face of live bacteria.

The compound that Dr. Richard Phipps found has indeed helped a lot in combatting COPD. That compound is, in fact, a derivative from Omega-3 fatty acids.

In addition, it has also been proven that Omega-3 fatty acids have a direct effect in strengthening the lungs to prevent bacterial infection. It’s great to have a whole house air purifier to prevent airborne bacteria or virus in your home, but in places where the air pollution is too much, your lungs are always compromised. Omega-3 fatty acids greatly help in preparing the lungs to fight against infections that may occur in your body.

So how do you get your daily dose of Omega-3? Here are some of the easiest and tastiest dishes you can try that contain those wonderful Omega-3 fatty acids:

Blackened Salmon Sandwich

blackened-salmon-sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions
  • 2 teaspoons blackening or Cajun seasoning
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 4 crusty whole-wheat rolls, split and toasted
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Preparation:

  1. Skin salmon fillets. To do this, place salmon on a clean cutting board, skin side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long, sharp knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding the skin down firmly with your other hand. Then, gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.
  2. Preheat grill rack to High heat.
  3. Rub salmon on both sides with blackening (or Cajun) seasoning.
  4. Grill until cooked all the way through (3 to 4 minutes per side).
  5. Mash avocado and mayonnaise in a small bowl.
  6. To assemble sandwiches, spread the avocado mixture on each roll and top with salmon, arugula, tomato and onion.

Arctic Char on a Bed of Kale

arctic-char

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 pounds kale, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped (14-16 cups)
  • 1 pound skinned arctic char or salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 4 lemon wedges for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir fry shallot, continuously stirring until it begins to soften (2-3 minutes).
  2. Add broth, water and half the kale; cook, continuously stirring until slightly wilted (1-2 minutes). Add the remaining kale and cook until tender (about 8 minutes).
  3. Sprinkle fish fillet with salt and pepper, and place on the kale. Cover and cook until the fish is just cooked through (5 to 7 minutes).
  4. Combine sour cream, horseradish and dill in a bowl. Serve the fish and kale with the sauce and lemon wedges.

Tuna and Green Bean Salad

tuna-salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
  • Approximately 3 teaspoons salt to taste
  • 2 large red potatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 9 ounces canned tuna packed in oil, drained

Preparation:

  1. Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally (about 4 minutes). Using a mesh strainer, transfer the green beans to a large bowl of ice water to cool completely. Drain the green beans and pat dry with a towel.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the same cooking liquid and bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the simmering liquid, and cook until they are just tender but still hold their shape (8 to 10 minutes). Transfer the potatoes to the ice water to cool completely. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a towel.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, oil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Place the tomatoes, basil and parsley in a large serving bowl. Add the tuna and toss gently to combine. Add the green beans and potatoes. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Oatmeal and Flax Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies

oatmeal-cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed, finely ground in a spice grinder, or pre-ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, oats, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy (about 4 minutes). Put in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat until properly combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown (10 to 12 minutes). Let the cookies cool (for about 3 minutes) on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Brain Gain: Nutritional Benefits from Food for Mental Health

In my long experience with making food (and enjoying it!), I’ve tinkered with a wide array of dietary plans designed to suit the daily needs of an individual. It’s a given that anyone can easily get vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, giving the body what it needs to recuperate and grow healthy. Eating healthy meats such as lean beef and fish is a great way to provide protein for your muscles to grow. However, there is more than meets the eye regarding these foods and how they are prepared.

braingain

Simply put, there are foods and supplements that give better than average benefits, targeting specific health conditions or body parts. As such, the most important foods to look out for are foods that can help with mental health, and ultimately boost mental performance – since your mental health is indeed significant in everyday living.

This is why I found it imperative that I discover all the ways to maintain my mental health in the best way possible. It’s time to take in some brain food, know what you are getting from them, and even consider some supplements. Here is a run-down of the much needed vitamins and nutrients for keeping the brain healthy and functioning well.

DHA and Omega 3

Our brain functions by way of the neurons or nerve cells found in them. Keeping neurons and their connections maintained means that the brain can work steadily. But, how exactly do we do that?

Eating foods that are rich in Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA does the job. DHA is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in the brain and is a structural component of neuronal membranes. An adequate level of DHA in cell membranes is important for many functions of neural cells

dha-omega-3

One of the best foods for consuming DHA is fish. Fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and others are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are actually very good for the brains. Conversely, cell membranes with abundant omega 3 fatty acids are associated with lowered rates of not only heart disease and diabetes, but also depression. Yes, by eating fish, you are less likely to be depressed.

A study by the Medical College of Qingdao University in China took a closer look at the potential impact a steady diet of fish could have with regard to a person’s risk of depression. In the study, the participants who ate the most fish had an average of 17 percent reduction in depression risk compared to those who ate the least amount of fish. When researchers broke down the gender differences, men had a 20 percent lower risk of depression, while women had a 16 percent lower risk. Not only was there a correlation between fish diets and depression, but researchers also believe it could be used as a way to prevent or stave off depression symptoms before they start.

omega3

There are many ways we can prepare a dish made out of fish. In fact, I like to get creative in its preparation. Salmon is always enjoyable to prepare since I can bake it, grill it and marinade it with my choice of sauce. Almost every time I have fish on my menu, I get to savor that rich meat because of its healthy fat. The same goes with tuna as we can prepare tuna casserole or even put it into a taco for eating on the go.

Vitamin E

With over 90% of Americans not consuming RDA for vitamin E, and most people eating less than half of the RDA they should, there exists a significant opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of this nutrient for brain health.

There are many forms of vitamin E. Recent data from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm states that all plasma Vitamin E forms may play a role in brain health. It is then quickly backed up by a paper published in the Neurobiology of Aging, saying that the risk of mild cognitive impairment or MCI was 15% lower in people with the highest levels of vitamin E.  Likewise, there is a link to vitamin E with Alzheimer’s disease. Participants with MCI and Alzheimer’s also displayed higher blood levels of markers of vitamin E damage.

Kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E and folate. For example, one cup of raw spinach has 15% of our daily intake of vitamin E, and 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach has 25% of our daily intake. Exactly how folate may protect the brain is unclear, but it may be by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain, but folic acid helps break down homocysteine levels.

vitamine

Although both are high in fat, peanuts and peanut butter tend to be a source of healthy fats. They are also packed with vitamin E. Both foods may help keep the heart and brain healthy and functioning properly.

Other good choices are almonds and hazelnuts. I love preparing leafy greens because the fruits and vegetables can be varied according to preference. I usually upgrade my regular Caesar’s Salad by adding my preferred dressing and some almonds to enrich the taste.

Nootropic Compounds

There are various ways we can go about being mentally healthy and improving mental performance. An easy and effective way that I learned is by using Nootropics.

Many supplements that support mental health are used today mainly because of the benefits that may be reaped from them such as improved memory and speed of recall, enhanced learning capacity and attention span, increased mental energy, focus, concentration and clarity of thought. These pills are scientifically known as Nootropics but are often known as ‘Smart Pills’. These pills can also aid in some mental cases such as anxiety, depression and symptoms of other serious mental illnesses.

This supplement may prove to be a real life limitless pill. As for me, it kept me sharp and mentally stable while I go about doing my job and regular day. I suggest that you try Nootropics like Noopept which is did marvels for me. I really felt that it improved my cognitive skills and kept me feeling alert and happy all day along.

noopept

There are other benefits to taking smart pills. For example, if a person is suffering from anxiety, they can get L-Theanine from the local pharmacy. Most of L-theanine’s effects have to do with promoting relaxation and positively affecting mood. Since they have access to the central nervous system, psychoactive substances, such as L-theanine, are believed to have the ability to affect mental abilities and psychological states. Also, it is thought to have a stronger effect when combined with caffeine.

By the way, these drugs are in fact legal and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA. Noopept is 100% legal in the United States. You can lawfully purchase, possess and use it. That means that you won’t get in trouble for buying it, even if you purchase it over the internet or from another country.

smokey, spicy clams & chorizo

clams-chorizo 1
I would like to thank mother nature for this post. The 14″ of snow that were dumped on us last night not only inspired me to make this dish, but it also gave me the time to write and post today. Part of my winter comfort food repertoire involves things that are smoky and or spicy, like BBQ brisket or like this dish, clams and chorizo. So yesterday when I was in the grocery store stocking up on food in preparation for another intense snow storm, I wanted something comfort food-ish. I could not get clams and chorizo out of my head. And here we are. I wish I could describe in words how insanely delicious this dish is. Just be sure you have lots of toasted baguette nearby because you are going to want to soak up every smoky, spicy drop.

clams chorizo 2

Ingredients:

2 dozen clams
5 oz of cured chorizo, cut into small cubes
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 of a 14 oz can of san marzano diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of dry white wine
a pinch of spanish smoked paprika
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a large sautee pan, cook the chorizo and garlic in olive oil until the garlic is browned. Add in the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Then add around 1/4 cup of the wine and reduce until it is almost gone and you have a thick sauce developing. Add the clams and the remaining 1/4 cup of wine. Shake the pan to coat the clams, cover, and cook for about 9-12 minutes (until the clams open). When all or most of the clams have opened, transfer to a bowl removing any clams that did not open. Spoon the sauce over and inside the clams. Serve immediately with lots of toasted bread.

garlicky pesto

I love pesto that has so much garlic it should come with a warning.  Something like: do not eat if you are planning on going on on a first date within 24 hours, and especially if you plan on kissing the person goodnight. Because if you do, you may not have a second date.

I love it to have so much garlic that it is zingy and spicy. Not to downplay the basil.  The basil plays just as important of a role, if not the most important. It is the perfect partner for the garlic because it balances it out and tells it when to slow down and take it down a notch.

Because basil and garlic get along so well, you can bring them out with a lot of different ingredients. In the pesto form, it goes well with pasta, sandwiches, and even on chicken or fish.  The possibilities with pesto are endless.  My personal favorite is over spaghetti with green beans and potatoes, or on a baguette with fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.  Yum.

Ingredients

1 large bunch of basil
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
around 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil

A little side note : you can easily make this by throwing these ingredients into a blender, but you will not get the same results as you would by doing it the real deal way by chopping it by hand.  So, leave the blender in the cabinet and get out your sharpest knife and a large cutting board.  Don’t worry, it will not take that much longer and you’ll get a little workout.  Best of all, the taste and texture will be much more intense. It is well worth the extra effort.

 

Start by chopping the garlic.   Then add in a handful of the basil.  Keep adding basil until there is no more and keep chopping until it is in little green flakes.

Add in the pine nuts.  Keep on chopping. Scrap and chop, scrape and chop.

Add the cheese along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Continue chopping away until you have a thick paste-like substance.  Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, and stir in the olive oil. You’re done. You can store your pesto for later, or better yet use it right away over pasta, bread, or whatever your heart desires.

Enjoy.  And remember … no kissing, unless of course you are sharing 😉