Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Importance of Making “Me-Time”

We live in a fast-pace society where we put high expectations on ourselves, especially women.  There is an attitude that we must “do it all”. We have a family, career, spouse, and are involved in organizations and activities, some we may not even enjoy.  People rarely feel they can take breaks out of their schedule, and feel guilty when they do.  Taking well-deserved “me-time” is nothing to feel guilty about.  In fact, it is critical to managing stress, being well-rested, and will make you a better spouse, parent, friend, and overall person.


Finding “Me-Time”


You don't need tons of time, but shoot for 30 minutes daily to start.  If you can have even more, that's great. It is wise to schedule the time for yourself, like you would any other important appointment.  If you can't find it all at once, that's OK.  Break it up throughout the day into increments of 15, 10, or even 5 minutes.  Some people prefer this time be completely alone.  Others like to take the time to reconnect with loved ones.  Either way is fine, as long as it is doing an activity that truly makes you happy, and not serving someone else.



Taking “Alone Time” 


If you choose to spend time alone, you give yourself the 

opportunity to rest, or to find what makes you feel alive and happy.  You can use this time to focus on your creativity.  Maybe this means writing that novel you've had locked away in your mind for years.  Perhaps you work on that quilt you started, or visit the museum again for the first time in a decade.  Maybe you want to take a stroll outside while you listen to your favorite song or escape and enjoy a massage.

Solace is an excellent time to engage in meditation, which is known to help us de-stress and improve focus. Our culture encourages us to push forward constantly.  By slowing down and reflecting inward, we can tend to our own soul, and problems that have been nagging at us.  Our inner struggles can manifest themselves in the form of physical ailments, which clear up as the difficulty is dealt with.  Without “me-time” to address them, they would fester and get worse.



Connecting During “Me-Time”


“Me-time” can be more than “me”.  You can use the time you have carved out to connect with someone you are comfortable with and makes you feel good.  Call a friend simply to chat, and that is all.  Don't make work related calls or try to tie up loose ends on a project.  Find someone whose company and conversation you enjoy, and that you can talk to without any agenda.



Benefits of “Me-Time”


Once you get in the habit of finding “me-time”, you will begin to appreciate and value yourself more.  You will realize how much you deserve happiness as much as everyone you've been taking care of and working for does.  The levels of stress in your life will lower, as you find it easier to deal with everyday ups and downs as they are thrown at you. When you do things-even the smallest-for yourself, you will discover more confidence, patience, better health, relaxation, and become a happier, more loving person.  This is the best service you can do for yourself and those around you.  


Connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for more "me-time" ideas, and post an idea of ways you like to de-stress in the comments section on this blog post.
 

http://women.webmd.com/guide/womans-guide-to-me-time?page=2
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Why-You-Must-Have-Solitude-and-Time-For-Yourself/1
http://humptydumptyparent.com/the-importance-of-me-time/
http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/apple/3427.asp

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sugar Free Treats for Your Sweetheart

There’s no gift more associated with Valentine’s Day  than chocolates. In 2009, more than 58 million pounds of chocolate was sold the week of Valentine’s Day – only being topped by Easter and Halloween! Chocolate became associated with romance during the period of the Aztecs. The concept of heart-shaped boxes emerged in the 1840s, when Cadbury introduced the boxes, making the gift of chocolates two presents in one – the box was considered a way to store love letters, trinkets and more..

According to CandyUSA.com, a survey conducted by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association showed that 50 percent of women are likely give a gift of chocolate to a guy for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, not everyone can indulge in Valentine’s Day chocolate. For those with diabetes or sensitivities to sugar, chocolate indulgence is limited to sugar-free varieties which often lack richness and flavor. Other dietary restrictions such as Celiac disease and religious guidelines can limit the treats that you can enjoy on Cupid’s day. And as delicious as chocolate is, it often packs excessive amounts of sugar, derailing diets and causing dental decay – definitely not something you want to wish on your loved one!


Dr. John’s offers the perfect chocolate treat for the one you adore – now, you don’t have to settle for sugar-packed chocolates or bland sugar-free chocolates with artificial sweeteners. The new DecaDENTS line delivers real, rich chocolate flavor combined with crunchy nuts, mouthwatering fruit fillings, and more! These gluten free, sugar free, kosher chocolate treats are not only delicious, but come in a gold box – making them the perfect present for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day!



The DecaDENTS line offers something for every taste. Choose from dark chocolate with almonds, raspberry or orange; or dark chocolate wrapped sea salt caramel, pecan turtles, milk chocolate filled with  peanut butter, flavorful coconut, crisp toffee, and more! Shop our xylitol chocolate selection to see the full range, and choose a flavor that’s sure to make your sweetheart swoon.

You don’t have to choose between sugary chocolates and sugar free ones that lack flavor – with Dr. John’s you not only get great flavor without the sugar, but a healthy dose of xylitol to improve oral health! It’s the ultimate way to show how much you care this Valentine’s Day; and express delivery is available ensuring your chocolates arrive fresh.

You can learn more about the history of Valentine’s Day chocolate at History.com or check out Delish for more Valentine’s Day chocolate knowledge.

Just for Fun: Test your knowledge of Valetines treats with an “Eat-Q Test: Valentine's Day Candy” available at http://www.jamesbeard.org/education/eat-q-test-valentines-day-candy-answers

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Importance of Meditation

Everyone is under some type of daily pressure.  With a sluggish economy and parents working more than ever, stress is at an all time high.  We have to multi-task constantly, and just because we can, doesn't mean it's good for us.  If you're feeling yourself strained and tense, consider meditation.  For centuries it has been used as a proven method to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
 

What is Meditation?


Long before there were pharmacies on every corner, our ancient ancestors used meditation to relax, and as a way to get in touch with the forces that drive life.  While it still is carried out in spirituality today, it is a common practice used to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as increase focus.  The goal is to bring awareness to one area of the brain and eliminate all the hectic thoughts that flood us daily.


Types of Meditation


Meditation is personal, and can be practiced in a variety of ways.  You can do it alone, or in a group, and in any place you feel comfortable.  


Common practices include:

•    Mantra Meditation: A word that relaxes you is repeated over and over in your head until distracting thoughts are eliminated.


•    Transcendental Meditation: A mantra is used, and is repeated to a point where you arrive at your perfect state of consciousness and stillness.


•    Guided Meditation/Imagery: Instead of a word, images that you find calming are used to bring you to a relaxed state. Often a teacher will lead you through this process, and focus on other modalities like smell, sounds and texture to guide you to your place of ultimate calmness.


•    Yoga: As your whole body moves through a series of poses, you must use concentration, flexibility and balance.  With focus on your movement, your brain is able to eliminate other distracting thoughts.


•    Tai Chi: A Chinese martial art that focuses on gentle movements and postures at your own pace.


•    Qigong: Part of Chinese medicine, it uses movement, breathing and relaxation to bring your body and mind into balance. 


Benefits of Meditation


Meditation has been used for centuries because it has many health benefits in all areas of the body.

•    Less Stress and Anxiety: First, you are allowing yourself down-time alone, which is de-stressing. By focusing and relaxing, you do not produce stress hormones like cortisol. Mediation has been shown to loosen the neural connections in the brain that cause anxiety. Therefore, we strengthen our ability to look at stressful and anxious situations more rationally and not over react to them.


•    Overall Health: Meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, reduce fatigue, and improve sleeping patterns.  It is often used with chronically ill patients as a way to manage pain.  Others find it useful for quitting smoking and dealing with eating disorders.


•    Increased Memory: When you develop the ability to shut out distractions, you improve your rapid memory recall.  This is valuable in all areas of your life.


•    Increased Happiness: By reducing stress and improving your health, you become a more positive thinker and an overall happier person.


Getting started 


There are many helpful videos available on Youtube or even apps for your Smartphone.  Consider joining a yoga group or one that offers guided imagery as another way to kick start your meditation.  Making it a part of your daily routine will vastly improve your life.

http://www.the-guided-meditation-site.com/reasons-to-meditate.html
http://lifehacker.com/what-happens-to-the-brain-when-you-meditate-and-how-it-1202533314
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070/NSECTIONGROUP=2
http://www.historyofmeditation.net/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/meditation/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070

Friday, January 10, 2014

This New Year, Focus on Making Healthy Swaps

Creating a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming with all the information we constantly receive about what is good for us and what is not.  A great way to take steps in the right direction is to start with small changes, because these are the ones that will last. 

When it comes to our diet-the most important part of our health-making swaps that will save calories and fat is easy, and doesn't require a lot of training.  

Take a look at what you are preparing, and chances are, there are ingredients that can be swapped out for healthier ones.


Healthy Ingredient Swaps


Start simple by swapping out one ingredient or item in your diet.

•    Swap out butter and margarine for olive, canola, avocado, coconut or another healthy oil.  Not all fat is bad, and these oils are better for you than butter or lard.


•    Instead of full fat dairy products, swap them for low fat versions, such as milk and yogurt.  This cuts down on saturated fat.


•    Substitute the salt you flavor meals with for dried or fresh herbs and spices.  This is better for your blood pressure, and you'll experience more robust, natural flavors.


•    Stay away from refined grains and white rice and swap them for whole grains like quinoa, or bulgar.  You'll be leaner with a higher fiber intake.




Healthy Baking Swaps


By swapping out ingredients, you don't have you give up baking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

•    Use cocoa powder in cookies and cakes instead of chocolate chips.  This swap cuts fat and calories and you'll still experience the chocolate flavor.


•    Used mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin or prune purĂ©e in place of half the oils or margarine to cut fat and still retain moisture.  


•    Swap out white flour for whole wheat, white whole wheat, or whole wheat pastry flour for more fiber and less empty calories.


•    Swap out sugar and replace it with Dr. John's Xylitol Sweetener. It replaces sugar 1:1 and can be used in fruit salads, oatmeal, cooking and most baked goods.  See our previous blog posts for some delicious recipes.




Healthy Sweet Snack Swaps


When you are craving sweets, you don't have to always reach for sugary laden products.  There are plenty of natural snacks that can satisfy you.

•    Swap out fruit for refined sugars. A mere 1.9 oz of jelly beans, 1.8 oz of gummy bears, or 16 oz of soda will give you the same caloric intake as 11.6 oz of kiwi, 10.2 oz of grapes, 13.5 oz of apples and a whopping 19.5 oz of melon.  You will be able to eat more and feel satisfied longer.  As another bonus, the craving for sweetness will be fulfilled and you won't crash from the sugar later.


•    Eat sweet snacks with Xylitol.  If you're still in the mood for candy or chocolate, choose those made with xylitol from birch. It keeps the calories down, and won't cause tooth decay or significantly raise glucose levels, making it safe for diabetics. We offer a complete line of xylitol-rich treats including gourmet chocolates, classic hard candies, chewy caramels and more.


•    Swap your soda or energy drink that is full of sugar for a white or green tea without any extras. If you need a sweetener, use xylitol. You won't sacrifice caffeine to get you moving, while the teas' delicious natural flavors are near calorie free and will not leave you feeling sluggish hours later. On top of this, you'll reap the benefits of all the healthy antioxidants the teas provide. 


Please leave a comment with other small changes you have made that have brought about big results.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Crustless Pumpkin Pie ~ Adapted Recipe


Making healthier ingredient swaps doesn't have to be hard or time consuming, it just takes a little experimentation.


Jessica W. of Chandler, Arizona emailed us about her first experience with Dr. John's birch xylitol.  "I had a great time experimenting with Xylitol and found it to be a very helpful substitute for sugar. The first recipe I used xylitol in was a Gluten-Free Cornbread using Pamela's Gluten-Free Corn Bread and Muffin Mix.  I then used the the cornbread to make cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving.  It was delicious and I was so glad to be able to offer something to my family that would easier on their digestive tracts and not raise their blood sugar too much.  The second recipe I used the Xylitol in was a Crustless Pumpkin Pie adapted from http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2013/11/high-protein-crustless-paleo-pumpkin-pie-gluten-free/."

Here's the adapted recipe Jessica shared with us.

High Protein Crustless Pumpkin Pie (Gluten-free & Paleo)

Author: Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)
Allergens: Gluten-free, Wheat-free, Dairy-free, Grain-free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  60 mins
Total time:  1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 8

Ingredients


Pie

¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup Xylitol
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling!
¼ cup blanched almond flour

Topping

⅓ cup chopped raw pecans
1 tsp cinnamon sugar (3/4 tsp Xylitol, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon)
1 tsp grapeseed oil

Drizzle

¼ cup full-fat coconut milk, chilled and whisked

Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 325F and lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate with a dab of coconut oil.

2.     Combine pie ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

3.     Pour into the prepared pie plate and set aside.

4.     Add topping ingredients to a small bowl and stir until the nuts are coated. Sprinkle the 

        mixture over top of the pie.

5.     Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

6.     Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 1 hour. Cover and place in the fridge overnight  

        to chill.

7.     Serve with a drizzle of full-fat coconut milk.



Do you have a xylitol recipe you would like to share?  Post it in the comments below or email it to Emily@drjohns.com.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Meal Planning: Save Time & Money and Eat Healthier



We've all been in there. It's dinner time, the kids and your spouse are hungry. You're severely lacking the energy required to prepare a well-balanced, healthy meal after a long day of work.  Like the rest of us, you fall back on an old standby. Quick and easy dinners like mac and cheese and frozen chicken nuggets rear their nutritionally deficient heads. Perhaps you resort to a fast food fiasco like pizza or burgers. It's not that you want to feed the family junk, there simply isn't time to do otherwise.  In order to avoid such a calamity, consider meal planning.  By planning and preparing ahead of time, you will save money, time, and allow for the whole family to eat healthier.

How Meal Planning Saves Time


By planning your meals at the beginning of the week, you know what you're going to be serving ahead of time on any given night.  This eliminates the time spent rushing around like a crazy person trying to throw a meal together or waiting for frozen mystery meat to defrost in the microwave.  There will be no reason to rush to the grocery store for something last minute or visit a drive through, which costs you more valuable time after work. 

How Meal Planning Saves Money


Unless you are super disciplined, each trip to the grocery store results in impulse buys.  By only making one trip you'll cut back on this extra spending.  Planning involves taking an inventory of your pantry and refrigerator, so you won't buy what you already have. Looking ahead at weekly sales gives you the opportunity to save even more at the register.

How Meal Planning Means Eating Healthier


Making a menu beforehand allows you the time needed to prepare in advance for lower calorie and lower fat dishes.  Planning lets you dust off your healthy cook books and revisit recipes you've pinned online, but haven't had the chance to make yet. You can look for hearty ingredients and incorporate more vegetables, instead of adding a side of fries to the meal.  Planning a menu allows for portion control that you will not get in a restaurant where they often serve three times the amount of food needed.  Don't forget that reduced stress over the meal construction means as much for your well being as much as eating healthy does.

Tips For Meal Planning



  • Know your family's schedule ahead of time.  If it's a busy week, make dishes that can be cooked on the stove and stand for a while, so that kids coming in at different times can help themselves.

  • Take an inventory of your cabinets and refrigerator.  Not only will you avoid buying what you already have, this will give you ideas to incorporate into your meals.

  • Review the supermarket ads that come out over the weekend for sales and coupons.

  • Buy local produce as it is better for you when fresh and in season.

  • After you shop, draft a menu with the family. Involving the kids means they will be satisfied with the meals throughout the week.  Hang it where it won't get lost and can easily be referred to over the next seven days.

  • Mix things up weekly and try new dishes to keep it interesting, but don't throw past menus away.  They will be a handy reference for the future if you run out of ideas.

 

Do you plan your meals? Please post your best tips below.