Top 5 Leafy Greens

Green and leafy vegetables have a wide range of health benefits. They are a rich source of beta-carotene, iron, antioxidants, vitamins, chlorophyll, and dietary fiber.  Below are my favorite 5 that are a must to incorporate any and all diets!

The dark green color of these vegetables is due to their high levels of chlorophyll which is essential to photosynthesis in plants, helping them to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll oxygenates and detoxifies the blood and is rich in amino acids and enzymes.

Leafy greens are so important to our diets and shouldn’t be missed or overlooked.

KALE is considered one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on the planet. It’s also one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Kale features antioxidants, lutein, carotenoids, and beta-carotene which all help prevent diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancers from oxidative stress. This leafy green is also high in alpha linolenic acid which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Cooking Kale can reduce its benefits, minerals, and vitamins. Try adding kale to a chickpea salad with a lemon juice based dressing!

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SWISS CHARD is rich in vitamin K, supports bone strength, and can help reduce type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. It also has anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient antioxidant properties as well as potassium which helps reduce blood pressure and stress on the cardiovascular system. Try adding swiss chard to soups or stir-fries!

SPINACH is known for its high iron content but it also contains vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin K and A, and manganese. Folate is important for pregnant women and those planning on having a baby, as low folate levels are linked to neural tube defects in fetuses in early stages of pregnancy. Try Spinach raw or cooked from pastas to salads!

COLLARD GREENS are a type of cabbage but have a sweeter and fresher taste to the traditional cabbage. Collard greens have high levels of vitamin C and K, supports your immune system and bone health as well as being full of iron, potassium, and fiber. Try shredding collard greens and adding them to stir-fries!

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BEETROOT GREENS the leaves of beetroot have high levels of potassium, calcium, riboflavin, fiber, and vitamins A and K. The greens of beetroots also have high levels of magnesium, copper, and manganese which supports your whole body. The beta carotene and lutein are known to help prevent eye disorders. It’s also higher than spinach in iron. Try adding beetroot greens to salads or soups!

All leafy vegetables can be eaten in salads. The darker colored greens are more nutritious and have higher amounts of beta-carotene which could also make them taste stronger. Blanch the stronger tasting greens in broth and add to soups and stews.

Leafy greens have the added advantage of being excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber while being very low in calories, and reducing overall calorie consumption is one thing that has been clearly associated with a longer life span.

Balch CNC, Phyllis A.. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal.

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Welcoming Wellness: Holistic Living

Holistic has many definitions — some call it woo-woo, others spiritual, others educated.

Holistic health emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit.

Holistic Health can be defined as an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment.

avi-richards-374974-unsplashOften being holistic has been mistaken with being spiritual. It’s not uncommon for spiritually-enlightened people to be holistic because they generally are more in tune with their action and impact. They get it, that they are part of a bigger picture, that their body is their number one tool, that the mind, body and soul are all connected, and we are all connected.

The overall goal of holistic medicine is entire wellness, not simply a lack of disease or physical pain.

A holistic approach to your body, mind and soul can not only transform your health and well-being, it can benefit your relationships, make your more patient, understanding, loving and generally help you to become more awake as a person in your day to day life.

Top 3 Herbs for Digestion

A principle in herbalism is that most chronic disease begins with poor digestion. If you can’t transform your food into the nutrients your body needs, then how can you have good health? In fact, many culinary herbs have been in use for thousands of years not only because they taste good but also because they help with digestion.
Sadly, all too often, people have had poor digestion for so long that they assume it’s a natural part of life.
Did you know? Although it’s about 30 feet long, the digestive tract needs smaller helpers, too: acids, enzymes and bacteria all help break down food.
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Herbal medicine helps keep digestion perking along. In one study, 24 patients received a mixture containing dandelion root, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), lemon balm, calendula (Calendula officinalis) and fennel. Ninety-five percent had relief of colitis symptoms in 15 days.
Digestive herbs work in a number of interesting ways from healing the lining of the gut to increasing the secretion of digestive juices to repairing digestion related organs like the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and stomach.
Stomach pain due to ulcers and indigestion from over-eating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and diarrhea are just some of the problems that can plague this sensitive area, but there are also herbs for digestion that can help with each of these. The liver, which is part of digestion, gets special attention in this article and its function can be enhanced with digestive herbs.
The following are clues to poor digestion:
Bloating
Gas
Indigestion
Heartburn
Constipation
Nausea
Poor appetite
Recurring diarrhea
Ulcers
Here are my three favorite herbs for better digestion:
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Warming Digestif and Yang Herb
In addition to being one of the best digestive herbs, this amazing warming spice also impacts the circulatory system. This root was introduced into Europe during the Roman Empire, and it has held an honored place as one of the herbs for digestion in traditional medicine for a very long time.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
Digestive Bitter Herb
The name of this flower is derived from the French “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth. This name was supposedly given to this plant by a 15th century surgeon, due to the dandelion’s jagged shaped leaves. Folk healers have long prescribed the root of this cleansing digestive herb for liver and digestive problems.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Digestive Tonic
The Greek doctor, Dioscorides, is reputed to have regularly worn a sprig of peppermint to lift his spirits. Its antispasmodic actions were recognized by physicians of the ancient world, and peppermint was popular with our more modern ancestors who saw it as a healing herb for digestion and the relief of digestive colic, sluggish digestion, flatulence, and bloating. Used for centuries as a gastrointestinal aid, peppermint is a digestive herb that helps relax the muscles of the digestive tract and stimulates bile flow.
Houghton, Marlene. Herbs Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need. Hampton Roads Publishing.
De La Forêt, Rosalee. Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal. Hay House, Inc.

Nourishing Nutrition: Kombucha

Kombucha also known as Booch is fermented tea full of microbes, amino acids, organic acids, vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients. It’s brewed using black, green, or combination of both teas (Camellia sinensis), cane sugar, and a microbial community of ethanol-fermenting yeasts and acetic- and other organic acid-producing bacteria commonly referred to as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts).
Sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese and originating in the Far East over 2,000 years ago, Kombucha is a beverage with tremendous health benefits for your heart, your brain and your gut.
The sugar-tea solution is fermented by the SCOBY and turned into a sparkling probiotic tea similar to cider.
It’s tart, refreshing and the flavor combinations are endless!
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You know from my previous posts I hate free-radicals. Kombucha has antioxidants which counteract the free radicals that can cause harm to our digestive system. What’s not to love??!
Kombucha is a probiotic-rich tea with many health benefits.
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You can purchase it in the store or make it yourself at home. However, be very careful to prepare it properly.
Common mistakes found in home brewing:
1. Using vinegar *it’s too different to Kombucha and has it’s own bacteria. It can cause you to brew Vinegar
2. Not rinsing off soap properly *Soap is antimicrobial and kills bacteria which is the SCOBY.
3. Not covering the booch right *no cheesecloth, you’ll allow tiny bugs through the loose weave.
4. Letting your batch brew too short or too long *too little = sweet tea, too long = Kombucha vinegar
5. Your Kombucha gets too cold or too hot *too cold = dormant yeasts/bacteria, too hot = kills yeasts/bacteria
6. If adding flavor, not using the right glass bottles *can cause explosions or not the right fizz amount
Basically, do your homework and you can have some delicious booch. Or not, support local brewers in your area for the best!
*Kombucha SCOBY eats sugar so there isn’t much left for us to have to drink. Also, it also contains a small trace amount of alcohol. Usually between .03%-1%. Home brewing may increase this to 1%-2%.

4 Ways Traveling Boosts your Health

In this part of Forage and Nourish I talk about living well while traveling. Sometimes just being outdoors is all we need to revitalize us. Let’s face it, we all want to go a little further than just outside our homes.
My first travel experience was at 19. I got my passport and got on a plane to Canada. Wow, I was amazed! I knew I was hooked on traveling and seeing the world. It’s full of diversity, culture and wonder.
Immune boost
One of the biggest health benefits of traveling is that it helps make your immune responses to bacteria, viruses, and other foreign bodies much stronger. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should be careless about hygiene and sanitation while traveling! What it does is let your body naturally create more antibodies. (These fight against foreign illnesses.) These antibodies make your body stronger over time and protect you from similar illnesses in the future. Now that’s a perk!
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Stess
Traveling can definitely help break the shackles and stress of the 9-5 tensions occupying your mind!
Taking a nice little trip away from your city and country will help refresh your mind, do things on your own time and relax. If don’t take a break from these everyday stressors, the amount of the stress hormone cortisol gets elevated; this speeds up the aging process and increases blood sugar levels. Now book that trip on that white sand beach!
Weight-loss
For many people, their day-to-day jobs require them to be in an office sitting down most of the time. Even if that is not the case, few jobs actually involve physical activity to the extent that it can adequately burn extra calories. So this is where traveling helps with weight-loss! Watch your steps climb by getting to and from the airport in your new destination or even the sightseeing and tours that you’ll be doing.
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Happiness
Everything we do in life usually involves finding happiness, but often, we forget that working all the time or allowing our lifestyle to fall into a rut does little to secure the happiness we crave. Therefore, traveling is a great way to immerse yourself in something new and exciting, and it gives you a lot to look forward to.
Going to new places, sightseeing, meeting new people and just immersing yourself in a new culture will all help keep your happy hormones (dopamine and serotonin) flowing.
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Now it’s time to travel! Do you have a destination in mind?