recipes

The Secret Ingredient For Smooth, Sweet, Banana-Free Smoothies + Recipes

 

medjooldates

We all love to throw a banana in our smoothies for that creamy, sweet texture, but sometimes it’s good to take a break. If you’re eating a smoothie every day (or you’re simply intolerant to bananas), there’s a secret ingredient you can use to make sure your smoothies not only taste amazing but also pack a nutritional punch.

Meet Medjool dates!

Medjool dates are a rising star in the produce department thanks to their delicious flavor and powerful nutritional composition. One serving (2 Medjool dates) has 33 grams of carbs and 281 mg of potassium. (That’s 50 percent more potassium by weight than bananas.)

The potassium, fiber, and mineral-filled Medjool dates have a caramel-like flavor that perfectly sweetens smoothies.

If you have a high-powered blender, simply drop Medjool dates in with whatever else you’re blending. If you don’t, blend your Medjool dates with the water first (with greens and any other high-fiber ingredients), then add the frozen components and any other bonus ingredients.

Here are a few recipes to get you started!

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Strawberry and Beet Superfood Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup sliced beets (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup dark leafy greens like spinach or kale
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ cup coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 scoop protein powder

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients together for 60 seconds in a high-powered blender.
  2. Enjoy in a glass or bowl! Add toppings like nuts, seeds or carob chips!

 

Blueberry-Muffin-Smoothie

Blueberry Superfood Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 3 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup chopped raw or frozen kale
  • ¼ cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ tablespoon all natural almond butter (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons oats or oat bran
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients together for 60 seconds in a high-powered blender.
  2. Enjoy in a glass or bowl, and top with toppings of choice!

 

 

 

 

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In Sickness And In Health, Loving Your Spouse Through Illness

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Many people suffer from chronic illness, some visible and some not. As one who suffers from several chronic illnesses, I can honestly tell you it is difficult to be married to me. Some days are good, some are really good. Some days are bad . . . and others even worse. You never know how you’re going to feel from day to day, or even hour to hour.

Being married to a person with a chronic illness is not much fun. It’s really taking the “in sickness and health” vow to the extreme. I’m not trying to compare my chronic illnesses, which are minor in the grand scheme of things, to a spouse who has lived through ALS or cancer with their husband or wife, but there are days I feel like my husband got the raw end of the deal.

Did he really mean to sign up for this?

Is he sure he wants to stick around and deal with this the rest of our lives?

He assures me he did and that he’s not going any where, but I still can’t help but wonder what his life must be like from day to day. Never knowing what “condition” I will be in by the time he comes home from work. Never knowing whether or not this is the moment I’ll have to go to the hospital. It’s not easy being married to me. These few reminders can help anyone going through difficult times.

  1. PRAY. Pray for your spouse and for your marriage. A chronic illness is something that will stretch the limits of your patience and test the boundaries of your love. It isn’t easy and it won’t just “go away,” so you need to pray. Pray for your spouse as they maneuver the difficulties of the illness, and pray that you will know just how to love them through it all.
  2. Communication is KEY. This goes for marriage in general, but especially when the spouse has a chronic illness. Their level of activity can vary greatly from day to day. Their level of comfort in those activities will vary greatly as well. Talk about EVERYTHING. This is the most important thing I can tell you. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary. But running from problems because they’re hard to talk about will only strain your relationship and tear you apart.
  3. It’s not their fault. Although you may tell yourself this, know that it’s not because of anything they did. They didn’t wish this illness on themselves and wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy. It stinks. Know that they want to feel better. They want to be involved. They want to be active; they just can’t some days.
  4. Don’t be offended. Some days will just be more than they can handle, and the best thing they can do is say no. They still love you and want more than anything to be with you, their family and friends – but sometimes it is better they stay home and rest. Don’t take it personally; it isn’t you – really.
  5. Don’t pressure them. Your wanting them to feel better won’t make them better. And just because they want to feel better won’t make it happen, either. If they say they’re not up for a day trip, don’t make them feel bad for not going. If they say they can’t take the trip, don’t make them feel worse for the change in plans. They are already beating themselves up about it. Know that when they feel better, they will make it happen.
  6. Be patient. There will be days, and sometimes weeks (or months), when they will feel sick or just completely out of energy. They will continue to try and keep up for someone else’s sake or to keep up appearances or whatever other reason they can think of, but they will eventually hit a wall. And when they do, they will go down hard. Be patient with them as they recover. Be patient with them as they find a “new normal” with this illness and balancing their other “duties” as wife and/or mom, or husband and/or dad. It isn’t easy for them to admit defeat.
  7. Don’t ignore their issue. As with anything else, ignoring their issues will not make them disappear. In fact, ignoring them will likely lead to them shutting down and/or depression. And that is a scary, slippery slope. They likely suffer from bouts of depression when flare-ups occur anyway, so don’t ignore them when they happen.

Do you or your spouse live with a chronic illness? What ways have you found to love them through the difficult times?

lyme disease

4 Ways To Help Someone With A Chronic Illness

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If you ask someone who has a chronic illness how they’re doing, chances are they will answer with sometimes along the lines of, “I’m fine” or, “I’m OK.” I can tell you with confidence that they may not be be “fine” or “OK.” They don’t want to mislead you, but it can be difficult to be vulnerable about being sick because that answer typically does not change day after day. Many, including myself, feel like they are a burden to those around them, and it is easier to continue to put on that “I’m OK” face than to admit that life is hard and the pain continues to be too much to handle.

As someone who struggles with multiple chronic illnesses, I have dealt with many emotions when it comes to telling people how I’m actually doing. Most times I start with only mentioning a few things that hurt, or a few emotions I’m dealing with, to gauge the waters on how receptive the listener is to my pain. I’m always worrying that they are tired of hearing about my disease and just want me to stop sharing, and that definitely contributes to why I tend to not to share as much as I want to. After sharing with people, I have many people tell me over and over, “I wish that I could do something, but I just don’t know what would help you.” Most times I don’t know what to tell them either.

As someone with a chronic illness, my heart wishes so desperately that I did not have to feel like a hindrance on the friendships or relationships I have. I sometimes need others to express love, effort, and patience, in a creative way. As much as I hate it, I can understand that many get tired of hearing of my aches and pains, my struggles with treatments and side effects, and how broke and lonely I am from it all. But for those of you that stay and listen, you are the real deal and the champions of loving me selflessly. You will never know the impact of what it means to those that are deep in the trenches of this fight, but know that you are right in there with them.

 1. Offer your help before being asked. I know it may be your first instinct to say something like, “Let me know what I can do to help,” but that actually can be a bit hard to answer. When I’m asked that question, many things run through my mind such as: What would they be willing to help with? Are they really just saying that hoping I won’t actually ask them, or would they be willing to do what I need that week, even if it’s inconvenient? You see, it’s easy to offer help, but harder to listen for a need and offer to fill it. If you don’t know what to offer, chances are they could use a meal, because it can be exhausting to cook meal after meal when they are weighed down by pain. (They may have food restrictions, so make sure to be willing to make something to fit those.) Do they need help cleaning their house? Offer to come spend a Saturday afternoon and help them clean and do laundry. When someone offers to help me clean, I am so relieved, since that is something that typically gets left behind because I don’t have the energy to do it.

2. Learn all you can about their disease/condition. Have you spent time reading about what they go through each day so that you can better understand? Is there a documentary that you can watch with them to help show them that you care and want to be educated on their condition? It goes an incredibly long way when you can work hard to learn the basics and be able to ask informed questions about how they are doing. Maybe even offer to attend their next doctor’s appointment or treatment with them, depending on how comfortable they are with that.

3. Plan an event with them in mind. I know in my daily life, I miss being able to spend time with people that I care about and participate in activities that now would put my pain over the edge. There are many things I am unable to do because of my disease, and many time I feel left out because of it. As a friend or family member of someone with a chronic disease, find out the activities that they can enjoy and make an evening out of it. Whether that’s an evening movie night or a quiet picnic in the park, any sort of planned event that they are able to enjoy will be cherished. And a special note that when asking those with chronic illnesses to an event -please never take it personally when they cancel. They cannot control their pain levels that day, and if they are canceling on something they are looking forward to, then the pain is more than you can imagine.

4. Offer to buy groceries or supplements. When I think about my daily struggle with my disease, finances top the list. Every extra cent that my husband and I have goes directly towards treatment, tests, supplements, and a specific diet catered to my body’s needs. Eating organic and taking over 20 supplements a day adds up quickly, and it has taken a huge burden off my shoulders when someone has offered to buy groceries for a day,or to buy my month of probiotics so that I had one less item on my list. I understand that not everyone has the financial means to give, but if you do, this can be so helpful.

I hope that some of these suggestions give you a guiding point that goes past asking how to help, but by also being able to take that step and love on that person in your life that is hurting. A strong support system is crucial to the healing process, and sometimes being that support can be confusing and difficult, since many times there doesn’t seem like options are out there that will help them. At the end of the day, just the fact that you’re there, you’re listening, and you are loving them through it is enough.

blog

Finding Gratitude Among Tragedy

We all face challenges in our lives, whether it’s the loss of health, the loss of a loved one or dreams that were never realized. It can be especially difficult finding that attitude of gratitude through whatever life brings our way. It isn’t about denying the reality of a difficult circumstance or the tragic turns our lives might take, but instead finding in them the resilience and determination to keep going in the face of turmoil.

It’s so important to have gratitude- for the good times and bad.

So what are some ways we can learn to be thankful during these difficult times?

1. Practice gratitude every day.

Start a gratitude journal and at the end of each day, write down, for your eyes only, why you’re grateful. As I’ve learned, it’s not just about the days when everything is going our way. In everything, be grateful, even for the tough times that help us grow.

2. Put the Law of Attraction and the Law of Action to good use.

Once you start keeping your gratitude journal, you’ll see it’s easier to find something to write down every day. It’s like a magnet, not only attracting the good things that happen but also revealing the hidden treasure in the ones that test our endurance. And you’ll discover, too, that there are actions you can take that bring more your way. Choose to be grateful; invite it into your life. Stay strong as you search for your purpose in life.

3. Embrace grateful anticipation.

It’s not the same as entitlement; that’s a sure way to derail your dreams. This is more about recognizing the opportunities that have always been there but got lost in the shuffle of an unbalanced life. Embrace your life, whatever it brings your way, and know that you came to this point for a purpose, destined for great things.

And prepare for teary eyes, thinking about the good times and the bad. Emotions flood out when you are in the deepest form of gratitude.

Everything happens for a reason. Be grateful and everything will be ok.

health

Being Mindful Without Meditation

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For much of my life, I battled an internal engine that churned a steady stream of negative thoughts. I looked for relief in every way imaginable and often read that meditation held a powerful key to my true happiness. But every time I sat in lotus position and tried to clear my mind of thoughts, more flooded in. I was convinced I must be doing it wrong.

After years of trying—and failing—to meditate, I finally came to understand that meditation isn’t about white, flowing clothes, a special pillow, incense, candles, or mantras. The objective of meditation isn’t necessarily to achieve nirvana or even inner peace. In fact, the word “meditation” conjured so many clichéd Zen-like images that intimidated me that I started using the word “mindfulness” instead.

The science of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is all about physiology. It’s about doing whatever it takes to bring your attention to the present moment, into your body, and out of your chattering mind. And terms aside, this practice has been shown to have multiple health and brain benefits.

Mindfulness is all about learning how our brains work and using proven techniques to increase calm, focus, optimism, and emotional intelligence. The main way to do this is through breath.

Deep breaths send soothing oxygen to your amygdala, which is like the brain’s alarm clock. When the amygdala is triggered by any stressful situation, it responds with the primal protection reactions of fight, flight, or freeze. Deep breaths also activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and recuperation.

Sitting quietly with your eyes closed and focusing on something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power, like counting the length of your breaths, helps your brain slip into relaxing alpha wave, which brings on a cascade of health benefits ranging from reducing inflammation to reducing aging.

Um, yes, please.

Trust me, if I can practice mindfulness, anyone can do it.

Here are five simple techniques to get started if you’re meditation-averse:

1. Basic breath.

This is a basic mindfulness breathing technique that will help you keep your mind from wandering back to stressful thoughts. You can do this just about anywhere and will likely experience the calming benefits after just a few minutes. The goal is to breathe evenly and slowly and count during each exhale. Only count up to 5, and then start over. If you find yourself on number 8, 10, or 15, you’ll know your mind has wandered, and you can go back to counting during exhales only up to number 5. You can also keep your hand on your heart if the sensation of your heartbeat helps you to focus on your breath.

2. Square breathing.

Imagine you’re drawing a square in the air. While inhaling slowly to a count of 1-2-3-4, imagine the upward line of a square in the air, or you can actually draw it with your index finger. When your inhale is complete, hold your breath to an equal count of 1-2-3-4 while imaging or drawing the top line of the square in the air. Next, exhale slowly to a count of 1-2-3-4 while you imagine or draw the downward line of the square. Lastly, hold your breath for 1-2-3-4 while you complete the square by imagining or drawing the bottom line across in the air. Repeat this cycle several times, either with your eyes open or closed.

3. Squish and relax.

Lie down with your eyes closed. Squish and squeeze every muscle in your body as tightly as you can. Squish your toes and feet, tighten the muscles in your legs all the way up to your hips, suck in your belly, squeeze your hands into fists, and raise your shoulders up to your head. Hold yourself in your squished-up position for a few seconds, and then fully release and relax. Do this two or three times. It should bring extra awareness to your body and may help you feel more relaxed and present.

4. Use the five senses.

When you home in on your five senses (touch, taste, hearing, smell, and vision), you connect with your body, notice sensations happening in this very moment, and give yourself a mental break. You can have fun and get creative with this with props. Try some aromatherapy oils Like lavender or jasmine for smell, yummy treats for taste, a few beautiful photos for sight, a small, soft pillow or feather for touch, and a favorite playlist for sound. Close your eyes, slow your breathing, and focus on each of your senses, one at a time (or just pick one sense to focus on at a time). The key is to take in each sensation slowly, with nonjudgmental attention.

5. Belly breathing.

Place one or two hands on your belly while you sit or lie down comfortably. As you breathe in slowly and deeply, imagine the breath filling your belly. Gently push your belly outward while you fill it with air with each inhale, and allow your belly to fall when you empty the air with each exhale. Often we breathe in an opposite way to this: sucking our bellies in when we inhale and pushing our bellies out when we exhale. By imagining our bellies filling with air with each inhale instead, we can maximize the amount of oxygen we’re taking into our lungs.

As you start to embrace mindfulness as a daily practice, just think of it as yoga training for your mind. We have to train our minds just like we train our bodies, with regular practice and dedication.

 

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