Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a coconut oil addict. I proudly admit it. I could go on and on about the numerous ways this oil is beneficial and versatile in so many different ways, but in this post we will stick to the nutritional benefits alone.
For so long, coconut oil has gotten a bad rap for being high in saturated fat. Coconut oil is actually one of the richest sources available, seeing that 90% of the fat is saturated. As you probably have heard, for years we've been told that saturated fat is bad for us and that we should avoid it at all cost because it causes heart disease. However, the new data actually shows that saturated fat is actually pretty harmless. In fact, saturated fats can actually lower your LDL cholesterol and increase your HDL, in turn making it heart healthy after all. I have coconut oil every day of my life, and my lipid profile has never been better. I sautee and roast my veggies with it, I use it on the stovetop for cooking my eggs, I use it in multiple baking recipes, and I even put a scoop in my coffee every morning!
Coconut oil is unique because it is made up of mostly medium chain triglycerides. So many other fatty acids contain mostly long chain triglycerides. Let's look at the difference. Medium chain triglycerides are metabolized differently in the body. They go straight to the liver to be turned into ketones (eliminating the need for bile) and can be used as an immediate source of energy. Ketones are beneficial for protecting many organs in the body, such as the heart, brain, kidneys, pancreas and more. This is especially helpful in Alzheimer's patients. Ketones provide an immediate alternative source of energy other than glucose for the brain to help repair brain function. It also seems that coconut oil may have a positive effect on those dealing with dementia as well. This is great news for a very difficult subject!
Coconut oil has been known to help increase energy expenditure compared to ingesting the same number of calories from longer chain fatty acids. This could possibly add up to burning an extra 100-120 calories per day. Now that may not sound like much at first, but over the long haul it certainly can add up and help with long term weight loss. Not only this, but coconut oil can also help curb your appetite, and I would tend to agree with this for myself. Bonus!
Another great benefit of coconut oil is the large amount of lauric acid it provides. Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is made up of lauric acid. Why is this good? Lauric acid has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, making it a fabulous help in fighting off harmful invaders. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be sick! I would rather do all I can to fight it off naturally. Not only that, lauric acid also has been known to help balance hormones. This can be helpful for women dealing with hot flashes and other unpleasant hormonal imbalances.
These are just some of the amazing benefits of coconut oil. More to come in future posts for different uses and more added benefits. If you do use coconut oil, use it in it's most natural unrefined state. I use organic extra virgin coconut oil to get the most benefits from this healthy fat. You can find it here. Try it out for yourself!
If we are going to talk about total wellness, I have to bring up the wonderful benefits of essential oils. These are such a stress reliever for me, and so much more. What exactly are essential oils? They are natural compounds extracted from plants that contain the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which they came. These oils are extracted from the plants by a process called distillation using steam. Different oils have different functions due to their properties. I will discuss some of my favorite benefits of these oils in this post, but you will find that there are numerous benefits to your health with a more in depth look at essential oils.
When purchasing oils it is very important that you are confident in the purity of the brand you use. The purest oils that are extracted with extreme care and protected in storage is what you want. The quality and composition of these delicate oils can be damaged if not handled properly. Oils must be kept in dark glass containers to protect them from the sunlight. My favorite oils are from Rocky Mountain Oil. This is a company I truly 100% trust, and you can find them here.
The easiest way to get the benefits from these oils is through an oil diffuser. My favorite one is shown here. This one adds such a beautiful, calming affect to a room, and runs on a timer to make things easier for you. Add some water to the diffuser, then add 3-5 drops of your choice of oil and turn on the diffuser. Using essential oils aromatically can have a very positive effect on emotions and physiology. Having an oil diffuser on can completely change the mood in a room and create a very calming environment. This can be a life saver after a long and stressful shift!
Another way to use essential oils is in a bath. This way you are getting the oils through your skin and also through inhalation. I love to use lavender essential oil with some epsom salt for a very relaxing and stress relieving bath. Since oil and water don't mix, the salt helps to disperse the oil. To try this, use six drops of oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of epsom salt and add to a warm bath. I love the feel of my skin after this, not to mention how relaxed my entire body feels. This type of bath will also help flush toxins from your entire body. Lavender is one of my favorites for helping calm any anxiety and also for helping with sleep. It truly works!!!
Do you lack motivation from time to time? Or maybe all the time? Maybe you're not motivate d to get to the gym, or prep your meals. Peppermint essential oil provides a great boost for your state of mind and energy level. It can increase your alertness and give you a little "pep" in your step to get you going. It is such a clean scent to me and I love diffusing this in my home regularly. Nice alternative to drinking too much coffee (if there is such a thing)!
And one of my very favorite benefits from essential oils is their antibacterial and antiviral properties. Oregano oil itself may be just as effective as antibiotics in killing certain bugs. Research has shown that essential oils from oregano oil may even kill MRSA! Us nurses hate MRSA!!! Just the thought of wearing those isolation gowns makes me break out in a sweat. But an essential oil that fights that? That's pretty amazing, isn't it? You can use the steam treatment yourself to try to rid yourself of a nasty cold or sinus infection by using a blend that contains oregano oil. My favorite is Immune Strength from RMO (click here). Boil a pot of water, then turn heat off and let cool for one minute. Add 3-6 drops of essential oil, use a towel to cover your head, and breathe in the steam. This can do wonders to open up your nasal passages and also help get all those antibacterial and antiviral properties to kill off what's bugging you.
There are many other great uses for essential oils that I will get into in more depth in future posts. Obviously, discontinue use of any oil if any adverse reactions should occur, and do not use directly on your skin without a carrier oil. I would never advise ingesting any oils, although some will say it's okay. Do not use on babies, and use with extreme caution around small children. For now, just know that creating a stress relieving environment at home with a diffuser and some great essential oils can be a life saver and just purely enjoyable.
I love eating these bars because I made them, and that means I know what's in them. :-) Sure, it's easy to grab any box of bars off the shelf at the store (and in a pinch I still do - but only certain brands), but how much better to know that you can pronounce and identify every ingredient in what you're eating because you made it yourself! These bars are great to bring to work, give to your kids as a quick snack, or just have on hand in your fridge. And they're no bake, so it's pretty simple! They are filling, tasty, and made with all super healthy ingredients... that taste good too!
First, start with a cup of natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky - your preference, or you can use almond butter as well), 3/4 cup of raw honey, and 1/4 cup of unrefined coconut oil. Add these ingredients to a medium size pot on your stove top and stir together on low heat until everything is melted and mixed smoothly.
Then add 1/3 cup of Bob's Red Mill whey protein powder.
I love using this because it is just pure whey protein; no other additives or other stuff I can't pronounce. Then add 3 TBSP Cacao powder (like this one) to add a chocolatey taste and get a little dose of awesomeness:
You can keep the stove top on very low heat the whole time you are adding ingredients just to blend them together well. Next, I like to add 1/4 cup ground flax seed like this one pictured below. Great source of fiber and omega 3's.
At this point, I usually turn the stove off and add remaining ingredients: 1 cup oats (not quick cooking), 1 -1.5 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/3 cup slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup Cacao nibs (see my amazon store for these!).
Mix all ingredients together well and scoop into a square baking pan. Smooth it all out until flat.
Place in fridge to harden for about 2 hours. Then remove from fridge and cut into 12 squares. I usually store these in a tupperware either in the fridge or freezer and use as needed. These will get too soft if left out. They are much better chilled, so I would leave them in the freezer if you are taking one out and not eating it right away (taking in a lunch bag or something), or leave in the fridge to eat immediately. I swear every time I make these they come out slightly different every time, but that's because I usually add a little more or a little less of something every time.... but I always like them! Play around with how much of each ingredient you like.... and enjoy!
So aren't new nurses so cute with all their enthusiasm and excitement??? Sorry, if any new nurses are reading this post. This is not to discourage anyone, but just to be real for a minute. We've all had "one of those days", or more realistically, "many of those days". Nursing isn't an easy job, and it certainly isn't for the faint of heart. But you got into this profession most likely for the right reasons, even though you may have second guessed yourself at times.
Now I am not going to lie and say I've never wanted to pour a huge glass of wine or scoop myself an enormous bowl of ice cream after a horrible shift... and I'm also not going to lie and say it will never happen again! But I just want to remind nurses to be aware of what they may do on occasion, verses what they are making habits of to deal with a stressful shift. Don't let your bad shift end up hurting you in the end by causing you to resort to bad habits on a regular basis... be stronger than that! Be aware of the overall effects on your own health that are made by how you handle work stress on a regular basis. It's not easy, and I get that... but don't let the crappy shifts take your health down the drain along with them. You have a life outside of this job to enjoy. Take care of yourself and go enjoy it!
In my opinion, there is no better way to get out frustration and stress than some heavy deadlifts. No word of a lie, I have driven straight to the gym after a bad shift before, in my scrubs and all, to do deadlifts. Bad day all gone. Best feeling ever. Just sayin'.... :-)
Love these!!! Who loves pizza?? I do. But I like to avoid the unhealthy kind, and make my own... with eggplant. Delicious crunch, all homemade, and my kids love them!
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice one large eggplant into thick slices.
Dip each slice in some egg, then coat with gluten free breadcrumbs (or use whatever breadcrumbs you want, but I use this kind pictured below).
Actually, the main reason I prefer this kind, is not necessarily because it's gluten free. The main reason is because so many other breadcrumbs out there contain high fructose corn syrup! Seriously! (Read your labels people!) But not this kind, so this is my choice. :-)
Bake the eggplant slices at 400 degrees for 10 minutes on each side (20 min total). Then you are ready to top them! Use your favorite sauce, sprinkle some oregano, some fresh mozzerella cheese, then add toppings of your choice. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted.
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.