Saturday, December 31, 2011

Keep a wellness diary in 2012

Every year, researchers who study the links between foods, lifestyle and wellness uncover additional interesting connections that intrigue us. As a result, we to try to add, for example, more blueberries, meditation or whole grains to our daily habits. Those are all positive lifestyle additions.

Although I’ve been on a path to increasing my wellness for many years, I still run into snags. So I’ve decided to do some research of my own. Beginning January 1, 2012, I’m going to keep a Wellness Diary for at least three months. I’m using a stenographer’s notebook (for those of you who haven’t used them, they’re 6”x9” and have a pink, vertical line down the middle) since it gives you lines to write on in two easy columns. I plan to use one page a day.

On the left, I will answer these questions:
How much time did I spend with God today? (For me, that typically means in prayer, journaling or meditation.)
What did I eat and drink today? (I’ll try to keep track of amounts and times as well.)
How many steps did I walk today? (I’ve been wearing a pedometer daily for three months so that’s easy to track.)
What else was significant in my day? (Maybe I’ll add gardening or other activities here.)

On the right column, I’ll answer these questions:
How was my mood today?
How was my energy level today?
How well did my digestive process work? (I’ve been having minor stomach issues so this is important to me.)
What else did I notice today about my wellness?

I anticipate modifying this process as needed. I also hope to evaluate what I’ve written weekly and monthly, noting patterns and connections between the two columns. At the end of three months, I’ll have a significant amount of data to use in drawing conclusions about what I should do to improve my wellness efforts. If I feel like I need help at that stage, I’ll call on holistic nurse Hunter Purdy (Seeds for Health Holistic Nursing Services, to assist.

Are you interested in joining me in this research? If so, let me know. The more people who participate, the more observations we’ll all have from which to draw conclusions about how to be healthier and happier throughout 2012.

Happy New Year to you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Choosing a wise lifestyle

At certain times of the year I’m reminded more frequently how hyper-vigilant I have become about my lifestyle. What I eat and what I expose myself to in my environment are both aspects of my lifestyle that I’ve modified since recovering from cancer five years ago.

My brother prompted me to think about this the other day when he told me about the easy way he’s been fixing eggs—in a plastic bag mix an egg with whatever you like to put in an omelet. Boil it for seven minutes. Eat.

My first thought? BPAs in the plastic. Many people who know me realize I don’t mix heat and plastics. If I mention it, some of them look at me like I’m a little crazy and they do it anyway.

I was talking about refined sugar to a co-worker recently. The study came out several years ago showing that as soon as you eat it, your body’s ability to protect itself plummets because your white blood cell count drops. But who wants to hear that, especially at this time of year when refined sugar is so readily available? Yes, it’s also cold and flu season so you need a thriving immune system, but that sugar is so good.

Then there’s the matter of artificial scents. Essential oils are great but synthetic scents, like you smell in so many candles (especially at this time of year) can be quite dangerous, especially to the respiratory system. Maybe I don’t notice them as much during the warm weather months because I’m outdoors so often. In the past month, however, I’ve been in situations every week that exposed me to these airborne chemicals for more than just a few minutes.

It’s not hard to do it another way.

I cook my eggs in a glass bowl in the oven.

I love sweets and I don’t deny myself. When I bake I cut down the sugar and almost always use agave nectar, honey or unrefined sugar as the sweetener instead of refined sugar. Are they less harmful? I don’t know. They weren’t included in the study. However, I tend to think that when something is less processed, it’s probably less dangerous. In those sweet treats I also throw in some whole wheat, dark chocolate, nuts and fruit, when appropriate, so I’m at least getting something that’s good, along with the delicious taste.

And as for scents, essential oils are wonderful but if I’m cooking or I put cinnamon into my hot tea, nothing else will smell as good anyway.

Am I too hyper-vigilant? I try to be reasonable and not make myself feel like I’m struggling under a burden of lifestyle rules. If I felt constrained, even living that way for a 100 year wouldn’t be fun. But I do want to be wise and enjoy every minute I have here.

I would love to hear what you have to say.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Turn the leftovers into a casserole

There was a time when food companies created all sorts of casserole recipes using their products so they could sell more of their canned and boxed products. Many of those recipes have become family favorites for generations. But you don’t have to use canned cream of mushroom soup to make a casserole. You can do it with your leftovers and maybe one or two more additions.

Although we loved our roasted pumpkin stuffing for Thanksgiving, there was plenty of stuffing and pumpkin left afterward. Giving leftovers a new twist always makes them more attractive so that’s what I did with the stuffing and pumpkin.

First, I put it in a bowl and added more stuffing that I hadn’t yet baked. Next, I chopped our leftover turkey and stirred it in. You can use any amount of each of the three ingredients—stuffing, pumpkin and turkey—that you prefer or that you have left over.

Next, I shredded cheddar cheese. In our household, adding cheese to a dish is never a bad choice.

I chose a round casserole dish and put down a layer of the stuffing mixture. Next, I poured a little chicken broth over it to add moisture. Then I sprinkled a layer of shredded cheese. I followed the same procedure a second time and the rest of my stuffing filled the casserole dish to the top. Bake at 375 for 30 – 45 minutes, until the cheese is quite melted but not browned, and serve hot. It was delicious.

It’s not a magic mixture that good just for stuffing leftovers. Right now I have a leftover rice and greens mixture in the refrigerator that I’m thinking of adding beans, cheese and vegetable broth to for another casserole. It will be quick, easy and provides a warm dish on a chilly night.