Mayonnaise. It's one of those condiments that most people either love or hate. I happen to like mayo for certain things, but I don't like my food swimming in it by any means. We tend to think of it as something that's really not considered a "healthy" option, but does it have to be all that bad? Not really. One tablespoon of mayo generally contains about 90 calories and around 10 grams of fat. Just keep this in mind when thinking of what a serving is. The "mayo lovers" out there can easily triple this amount or more without batting an eye.
So what's so bad about mayo? Let me tell you. If you're buying it off the grocery store shelf, you can be ingesting hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and/or added sugars. And so many are made with soybean oil which is not a great choice for health, and is also found in almost every package of processed food out there. These are all things we should be trying to avoid if eating for good health. So let me show you a way to make your own mayonnaise at home that you can feel better about... and it will taste better and so much fresher!
Ingredients for this recipe:
-1 large egg
-1 cup avocado oil
-1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
This recipe certainly does not call for all the eggs shown in that photo, but I just think it's fun to show how pretty the different colored eggs are from my backyard chickens (that's a whole other blog post on it's own)! :-) Anyway, you want to combine all these ingredients into a mason jar that you will use to store the mayo. Blend everything together with an immersion blender... and that's it!!! Creamy, fresh tasting mayonnaise.
But let me give you a few tips that I find help this recipe come out best. I have made this before and had it come out a bit runny. Things I find helpful to prevent that are, first, use a larger egg rather than a small one. Next, I find it better when I refrigerate the avocado oil before making this. Avocado oil can turn very thick and difficult to pour out if it is in the fridge for a long time, so just leave it in there for a day or so for it to become a bit more viscous. Follow these steps, and you should end up with a great texture and a great taste.
This should last in your fridge for about 5-7 days. This works great if you're making any large amount of chicken salad, tuna salad, some kind of coleslaw, or any salad that uses mayo as a base dressing.
Happy New Year! So here we go... new goals, new dreams, new plans. A clean slate for the next 365 days. Sounds great, right? Sure. Unless you're lacking the one necessary ingredient for that fine recipe. People have all kinds of calculations, complicated diagrams, expensive programs and plans of how they are going to execute their goals for this beautiful year ahead, but if they are missing that one vital piece to the puzzle... it's all a waste. You can forget all of it. A joke. Waste of time. A fancy looking package with a bow on top of an empty box. A big ZERO.
So what is this one fundamental element that we all need if we are ever going to be successful at reaching our goals? DISCIPLINE. Plain and simple. Sorry if this disappoints you, but it is truth. Everyone wants the quick fix, the magic pill, or that amazing life hack that will eliminate the need for you to actually work for something. That does not exist. You actually have to do the work. You have to put in the time. You have to make it happen.
Many people try to rely on motivation to reach their goals. Don't get me wrong, motivation can be great sometimes, but it's not what gets you into the end zone. It's a great start, push forward or a kick in the pants when we need it, but it's not the end of the story. Motivation doesn't last. It is fleeting, fickle, and temporary. If this is all you are counting on to accomplish your goals, you will be let down. You cannot count on motivation, but you CAN count on discipline.
You may think of discipline as your worst enemy. You couldn't be more far from the truth. In all reality, discipline is your greatest friend. It is the core principle that overcomes your excuses, talks back to your laziness, and makes you actually do the things you need to do even when you don't feel like doing them. That's powerful. And that is what we ALL need. People come up with all kinds of ridiculous reasons for why they cannot accomplish their goals. Every single one of them can most likely be answered with discipline. Some people want a long fancy sounding solution for how they can stop eating junk food every night. I'll tell you the answer right now. STOP EATING JUNK FOOD EVERY NIGHT. That is done with discipline. How do you get yourself to exercise 3-4 days per week? EXERCISE 3-4 DAYS PER WEEK. Simple, isn't it? I didn't say easy, but it is simple. Discipline is hard. It takes work, and it can be frustrating at times... but NEVER regretted. Even when you're just not "feeling" it... do it anyway. Going through the motions even when you don't feel like it, is what discipline is all about. And when you continue this, you create habits. Habits are life changing. DO IT.
You may try to have discipline imposed on you by an outside force... a trainer, a teacher, a coach, etc. That's great and all, but it will only last as long as that person is in your face. SELF-discipline is where it's at. Until we understand that our life is OUR responsibility, then we will never get it. It's up to you. You get it when you decide you want to be better, faster, stronger, smarter, or whatever your end goal is. Don't fear discipline.... fear being stagnant. That's scary. No more just thinking, dreaming, wishing, contemplating, or debating. Just DO. Happy New Year... now get after it!!!
Just in time for Christmas! These muffins make a great addition to a holiday brunch or Christmas morning treat. These are gluten free and made of all pure ingredients. They are definitely a favorite in my house.
Ingredients for this recipe:
-2 ripe bananas
-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-1/4 cup pure maple syrup
-2 cups Oat Flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1 and a half cups fresh cranberries
- zest of one orange
-2 Tablespoons chia seeds
Preheat oven to 350. Then start by mashing bananas in a large bowl, and all all other wet ingredients. Then add dry ingredients. I like to use this Gluten Free Oat Flour by Bob's Red Mill.
Add all other dry ingredients and mix well. You can find chia seeds HERE on my Amazon Store. They add such a nutritional boost! Then add cranberries and orange zest and mix together well.
Spoon batter into lined or greased muffin tins and bake for about 18 minutes. This makes about 10 muffins. So delicious. :-)
This chowder is one of my favorite go-to's for a cold winter evening. It is comforting, warming, filling, and packed with great veggies. So here is the ingredient list for this recipe:
-One small-medium head of cauliflower
-one small onion
-3-4 medium sized carrots
-3-4 stalks celery
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2-3 tablespoons coconut ghee (or plain ghee, butter or coconut oil is fine too)
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 cup whole milk
-4 slices cooked bacon (or turkey bacon) - optional
-1/4-1/3 cup arrowroot powder (for thickening, instead of flour)
-1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley (or 2 Tablespoons dried)
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-fresh ground pepper to taste
Start out with your chopped onion, carrots, celery and minced garlic. Heat a large pot on the stove top and melt your cooking fat. I LOVE the way this comes out using this Coconut Ghee. It is just delicious, but plain butter, ghee or coconut oil will work too. You can find it HERE.
Add diced vegetables to the pot once the ghee is melted. Cook on medium heat 3-4 minutes until slightly tender. Next, add the chopped cauliflower and heat for another 3-4 minutes.
While these are cooking, add the arrowroot flour for thickening. I like to use arrowroot flour instead of regular flour, and it works great if you are trying to avoid gluten or any wheat products.
Once vegetables are slightly tender, add chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Then add crumbled bacon (optional), parsley, and season with salt and pepper. I like to use celery salt in this recipe at times as well. It just adds nice flavor. Turn heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. And for an added benefit, add some collagen powder (maybe around 1/3 cup)... dissolves great in soups and gives you even more goodness! You can find collagen powder HERE.
Do you get the flu vaccine? If you choose to, that's fine. But what about the nurses who choose not to? Many of them are being threatened to lose their jobs. This is not okay, and this is my answer to that.
To Whom it may concern,
My name is Terri Wentzell and I have been a registered nurse here at Brigham and Women's Hospital since 2000. I have had the opportunity to care for thousands of amazing patients at this institution and work with many wonderful co-workers as well. It has been quite a journey, and one that I cherish.
However, I have recently been a bit troubled in hearing of the new flu vaccine policy stating that all employees are required to get the vaccine, or else face termination if no medical or religious exemption is given. This does not sit well with me, and this is the reason for this letter. While I do believe I qualify for a religious exemption (and I will get into that further), I do have to say that I am shocked that this hospital would think nothing of firing a highly qualified, well respected and experienced nurse who has given years of dedication to this institution in caring for sick patients - all over a flu vaccine that has a track record of being less than 50% effective. Wow. That doesn't sit well with me, as I mentioned earlier. The Brigham claims to value its nurses, yet this does not show that at all. While I have received the flu vaccine on occasion in years past, the more I think about it and research this topic, the less I am in favor of getting it. I found myself at times just lining up with the masses and obeying a stated recommendation without really thinking about it. The older I get, the more important I think it is to be completely convicted about every decision made in life. This is why I am further investigating this topic and realizing how it affects my own life.
I understand that the hospital would like to prevent the spread of the flu virus by requiring staff to be vaccinated, but there is one huge problem here. No one has any idea of the vaccination status of the hundreds of patients, family members and visitors that are walking all over the hospital every day. This cannot be tracked and no one has anything to say about that. The visitors are not questioned or asked to wear a mask in patient care areas. Forcing all staff to be vaccinated is not going to massively decrease flu cases in the hospital when you have hundreds upon hundreds of other people we know nothing about walking in and out all day long. In past years there have been well over 90% of staff vaccinated... and still plenty of flu cases. So is it the last 10% of staff causing all the problems? I highly doubt it. And how many people who got the vaccine actually got the flu? Quite a few that I know of. I personally have never had the flu, and I am grateful for that. My daughter had the flu once - and this was a year that she did get the flu vaccine. I remember being angry and wondering what good it even was. No more.
What do I do for flu prevention? Quite a bit, actually. As some of you may know, I am also a personal trainer, wellness coach and fitness nutrition coach. I have written a book on health, fitness and total wellness for nurses called Nurse Gone Strong. I have a website nursegonestrong.com where I encourage nurses to engage in healthy behaviors for their own sake. A healthy lifestyle and prevention of disease is clearly important to me and is something I spend a great deal of time on. My flu prevention consists of regular exercise, a very healthy diet filled with fresh food (not processed man-made junk), plenty of vitamin D (either from the sun, or from supplementation in winter months), plenty of sleep and stress relieving measures like yoga and meditation on a regular basis. All the things I just mentioned are extremely effective for creating a super strong immune system for fighting the flu. Oh, and frequent hand washing, of course. I have just as much (if not more) protection against the flu as anyone who has the vaccine. Not to mention, no risk of unpleasant side effects come with my prevention, unlike the vaccine that is filled with numerous questionable foreign substances and has had many negative reactions documented for years. Those chances may even be small in number - but why should I risk that? Speaking of questionable ingredients, I am also one who cares greatly about what I put on my skin. I read labels on health and beauty products and always try to use toxin free products. There are all kinds of chemicals, carcinogens and who knows what else in personal products and cleaning products... and I don't want those in my body. I also speak about this in my book. The flu vaccine is not a natural thing that belongs in my body.
Does the hospital track the healthy behaviors of all employees and threaten termination if they are not complying? Of course not. But they are happy to force injection of a vaccine that is rarely effective and can have possible side effects that can be damaging. Isn't that silly. They should be handing my book out to staff rather than vaccines. Not to mention, the flu shot is nothing more than a medical guessing game. No one knows what strains of flu will come about that season when they are actually creating the vaccine. But this is also about money, isn't it. Yes, the hospital gets reimbursed for having the majority of employees vaccinated. This is just another way Big Pharma is trying to take over and rule the world. Anyone who has read my book knows that I am always in favor of preventative measures rather than taking medications. There is a time and place for certain medications, but this world has become pill crazy and people are pushing medications for all kinds of things rather than preventing the problem with simple healthy behaviors. This is no different, in my opinion. Doctors get kick backs all the time for pushing certain medications, and the hospital does as well with the flu vaccine. This is a problem. Vaccine companies and pharmaceutical companies want to make their money. Well not at my expense.
I also find it quite interesting to see the number of well known and respected doctors out there who are against getting the flu vaccine. Dr Donald Miller, a cardiac surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of Washington advises people to avoid the flu shot at all costs and take vitamin D instead. Dr John Cannel hypothesized that influenza is merely a symptom of vitamin D deficiency, and that theory was further proven in Virology Journal. The flu season is during the winter months when it is hard to get enough vitamin D, and this makes sense. Dr Mercola also has quite a bit to say online about vitamin D being a much better and safer way to prevent the flu than the vaccine. So what if one of these doctors were my personal doctor? I would certainly want to follow their medical advice. Would I be forced not to according to hospital policy? I would argue that I would have a medical exemption as well if my own doctor advised against it.
I recently saw an interview with a board certified internist named Suzanne Humphries. She had some very scary statistics to share. According to her research, if you get the flu vaccine one year, your risk of getting the flu the next year is higher. Not only that, but a higher risk of getting a pandemic strain, and also a higher risk of spreading the virus for a longer period of time - all a result of what the flu vaccine did to your immune system the year before. This is proven in medical literature that she shares in her talks. According to her, someone who gets the flu vaccine is at higher risk for getting the flu than someone who has never had the vaccine. If this is true, the hospital may want to rethink their plan on preventing the flu.
Not only does researching this topic scare me, but I have had a good friend of mine have her entire life change as a result of getting a "mandatory" flu shot at the Brigham. I will leave her name out of this for her privacy, but I worked with this nurse on Shapiro 6W. She had the flu shot in September of 2009, and just days later was bed ridden with a very severe illness. She could not get out of bed for weeks. She ended up going to multiple doctors and having multiple tests run... yet her condition was not improving. To this day, she is unable to work as a nurse. She now has several syndromes that she had never had before, and she has never regained the energy and vibrance she had her entire life before receiving that flu shot. Is it PROVEN that the flu shot caused all this? No, but none of her doctors are able to say it definitely had nothing to do with it either. She is convinced it had everything to do with it, and that is enough for me not to want it. Yet, the hospital finds it necessary to force this risk on others.
But let's get to my religious exemption. I am a Christian who firmly believes in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for my sins and rose from the dead. I believe He is my Savior and will follow Him always. The Bible is full of scripture talking about how we are to treat our bodies and live our best life. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" If my body is God's temple, then I am to treat it with utmost respect and care, which I try to do with a healthy lifestyle. I do not smoke, do drugs or drink alcohol in excess because I know these things are harmful to my body. I exercise and eat right, not only to feel good, but to honor God by treating my body as a gift from Him. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says "...you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." My body is a gift from God, and I will treat it as such by honoring His Word.
2 Corinthians 7:1 says "...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." God is the image of purity and vitality. Vaccination is the forcible procedure of putting foreign proteins in our bodies. With the research that is out there stating possible harm to the body's immune system due to this vaccine, this clearly goes against scripture as something that should be put in my body. Scripture clearly warns against defiling our bodies. We are commanded to keep these temples clean, pure and holy. There is no scriptural support for injecting dead viruses, preservatives or any other possible toxin into our bloodstream to prevent disease. Deuteronomy chapter 14 and Leviticus chapter 11 tell of the laws of nature God has given, and shows that our bodies cannot tolerate foreign substances and unclean proteins. However, the Bible is full of information of how to properly care for your body in a God-honoring way, along with all you need to know in living a rewarding life.
God created everything we need on this earth to keep us healthy and well, yet we don't always use it. He created plants that produce fresh vegetables and fruits for us to eat. He created cattle, chicken and fish for us to thrive on. He created bodies that are able to move and keep us well with physical activity. He created herbs and spices with healing properties. He created clean water for us to drink. He created sunlight for vitamin D, and night time for refreshing sleep. God created all these things to keep us well and safeguard us from destruction. God's laws of nature determine what our bodies can and cannot tolerate. Not man. Romans 12:1-2 says "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." I cannot conform to man telling me to inject a vaccine into my body that is God's holy temple. This does not fit with the teachings in the Bible. You see, when man thinks he is smarter than God and has better solutions for things, this gives rise to sin, pride, and ultimately destruction (Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death"). In 1 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul urges respect for the conscience of others. Any laws restricting conscientious objection to practices that conflict with religious belief are unethical. I believe this to be such.
If we look again at the fact that this is all money driven by the vaccine companies, this is technically greed. People can do crazy things when it comes to money. They don't care what the effects are on others, as long as they make their money. The Bible is full of scripture warning against the evil of greed when it comes to money. They are bullying people and threatening with taking away funding to the hospital so they can make money on their vaccines. We talk about anti-bullying in the hospital, yet this is exactly what's going on here. Nurses are being bullied into taking a vaccine that could potentially harm them, or else they could lose their job. This is corruption... not much different than what goes on in the food industry. Back in the 1960's the sugar industry paid scientists large amounts of money to fund research that downplayed the role of sugar in heart disease and blamed fat. We now know this not to be true, but for years we all believed it because someone behind the scenes was pushing their agenda and bribing people with money. And no one cared about the health effects of all those people who believed the lies. I have spent a great deal of time trying to help people see through this in the food industry to promote better health. How do I sit back and watch this now? Greed and bullying... that is sin. The Bible warns against this. As Christians, we are not supposed to just go along with sinful behavior. Ephesians 5:11 says "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret". Time to take a stand against it. Psalm 94:16 "Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand for me against those who practice iniquity?" I simply cannot condone and go along with all of this. People can say this is about trying to keep people safe and well all they want, but everything about this goes against what the Bible teaches when you look at what is really going on. It's not okay and does not go along with my religious beliefs, or my beliefs as a nurse who is to promote health to my patients.
And what about free will? God Himself gives us free will to choose or reject Him. The Bible is full of scripture about free will (John 1:12, John 7:17, 1 Corinthians 10:23, Revelation 3:20, and many more). Why is it that the God of the universe makes Himself available to all, yet does not force Himself on anyone, but the hospital is forcing people to have something injected into their body? Crazy. God does not push his goodness, love, or gift of eternal life on any of us, yet hospitals want to force the injection of a questionable vaccine that could have damaging effects onto their staff. The flu shot should be available to anyone who chooses to get it, but it should not be FORCED on anyone.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I live by these principles. I am someone who practices what I preach when it comes to my faith in God, and also in all things health and fitness. Am I always perfect with it all? Of course not. I am a fallen sinful person like the rest of us who makes mistakes. And that is why I need a savior. But I try my best to follow these things and live my life as a positive example. I think it is fair to say that I have spread more benefit in terms of health and wellness to my co-workers and patients over the years rather than think of myself as a danger of spreading illness from refusing a flu shot.
Thank you for your time and for accepting my religious exemption. Please also consider the impact this has on so many other nurses who may feel the same, yet not quite sure how to articulate this.
Terri Wentzell RN, BSN
Certified Personal Trainer
Fitness Nutrition Coach
Hey there! So It was brought to my attention recently that a few people were requesting a list of pantry items to always have in stock in your home. This is a GREAT question to ask. We all want to eat right and be able to make things on the fly that are good for us, so we must start with a well stocked pantry or we'll be out of luck every time and always needing a grocery store run! We don't want that.
Having a well stocked pantry is key. You need certain essentials on hand to be able to make your favorite healthy recipes at anytime. Obviously, you may need to run out for the fresh items if you don't have them at the moment, but things that will keep well in a cabinet or pantry are so key in being prepared for healthy meal planning. I will share with you a list of a few of my favorite go-to's (in no particular order) when it comes to absolute necessity for me to have on hand in my own house. Most of these are listed on my Amazon Store, and I will share links for where to buy the brands I like so you know.
Item #1: Ground flax seed or flax seed meal. This is such a great thing to keep on hand because you can add it to so many different recipes and add amazing health benefits without even really noticing it's there. Flax seed is loaded with fiber and also a good source of Omega 3's. I add this to many recipes, including my protein bars, breakfast-to-go muffins, peanut butter protein cookies, and better-for-you banana bread. I also add this to my smoothies sometimes, or on old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal if I choose. Basically, it's an easy way to make almost anything a little bit healthier. :-) You can store it in a cabinet or pantry, but you may get a longer shelf life out of it if stored in the refrigerator (although some of us go through it too fast to matter... haha!). You can purchase them by clicking HERE.
Item #2: Chia Seeds. These are another super easy healthy item to have on hand. These are also a great source of Omega 3's. Not only that, but they are also full of antioxidants, fiber and protein. These are one of the ingredients in my breakfast-to-go muffins, and they are also great to have on hand to add to smoothies (warning: they can get stuck in your teeth, so keep a look out!). You can also make chia pudding with these that can be very yummy (recipe for that coming soon!). They will last quite a while in your pantry. You can find them HERE.
Item #3: Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein. I just love this stuff. Whey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is one of the two proteins in milk (casein and whey). Whey can be separated from the casein in milk, or formed as a by product of cheese. It is relatively low in lactose, but still some people with milk allergies may have issues with this. Whey protein helps rebuild muscle, may help reduce inflammation, may help lower blood pressure, and it is highly satiating, meaning it can help you stay fuller longer. Check out this article by Authority Nutrition for more. I specifically love using Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein simply because it only has one ingredient - whey! Many whey proteins in health food stores can contain a lot of added ingredients that are not always great to be consuming, so for me... less is more. :-) I use this for TONS of recipes on my blog, and more. And if you want a chocolate protein powder for something, try using this and adding some cacao powder (but be careful.. sometimes adding too much cacao powder can give a bitter taste!). You can buy Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein right HERE.
Item #4: Raw Organic Cacao Powder. This is a must especially if you are a chocolate lover (like me!). Raw cacao is a great source of antioxidants, magnesium and iron. This is why a bit of dark chocolate is actually considered a good thing in your life. But how great is it to be able to make your own recipes at home adding cacao powder for a yummy chocolate taste with the added benefits! I add this to my Homemade Protein Bars and many other recipes. The possibilities are endless!
Item #5: Shredded Coconut. Shredded coconut is useful in so many ways. Not only is it great for baking, but also adding to many cooking recipes for your everyday eating. It's a healthy addition providing healthy fats and good energy. I always have some on hand!!! This kind is my favorite, but any shredded coconut you like will do just fine.
Item #6: Healthy Cooking Fats. You need to make sure you always have some good healthy fats available to do your cooking and baking. My favorite go-to's for this are Unrefined Coconut Oil , Ghee, and Coconut Ghee (my favorite... a blend of the two!). Butter from grass-fed cows is also a good choice (please no margarine!!!). I absolutely love Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well, but I try not to do much cooking with it since it has a relatively low smoke point. I use it for some low to medium heat cooking, but mostly for dressings and marinades. Please stay away from using vegetable oil. It is linked to too many health problems that you don't want or need. I would also avoid canola oil since about 80-90% of it is produced from genetically modified plants. I don't want that, and neither should you. And if you are scared to use these suggested items because of saturated fats, you need to look at current research. Saturated fats are not the enemy
Item #7: Coconut Flour. Coconut flour is a great alternative for healthy cooking when you're trying to avoid regular flour or if you are gluten free. I use it for many of my baking recipes and even when cooking some meals. It is high in fiber and helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level. But be aware! Coconut flour is extremely absorbent, and you will need much less than regular flour in any given recipe. You will only use roughly 1/4 - 1/3 cup of coconut flour for every cup of regular all purpose flour. You can find coconut flour HERE. I use it in my Better-For-You Banana Bread and many other recipes.
So I hope this is a start. Of course, I could go on for pages here, and maybe I will do a second installment of this blog post at a later date. But for now, I hope you find this helpful. Now go make some healthy food with all this stuff!!! :-)
This is such a yummy little mix that I came up with about a month ago. I have always wanted to try Goji berries because I have heard of the supposed health benefits. SO this is my creation that came out of that desire. I am calling it "Autumn Energy Mix" just because of the colors! They look so much like fall... at least that's what I think of when I look at this. :-)
So let's start with Goji berries. What are they? These berries have a history of being used for medicinal purposes in ancient China. They are also known as Wolfberries, or by their nickname "The Happy Berry". Ancient Monks gave this nickname after feeling jolly when drinking tea made from Goji berries. They have a beautiful deep red color to them and they come in a dried form like raisins. They are somewhat sweet with a slightly sour taste. Why are these so good for you? These berries are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, fiber (will help you feel fuller for longer), zinc and antioxidants. They contain hypoglycemic properties which may help control blood sugar levels safely, and also contain anti-cancer benefits. These berries contain all 8 essential amino acids... and this is quite rare to find in a fruit! We don't usually think of fruit as a protein source. And last but not least, Goji berries may help increase men's testosterone levels. I'll just leave that right there. :-)
Who should avoid Goji berries?
1. Anyone with known low blood sugar (these could worsen the condition)
2. Those with low blood pressure
3. If you are taking Warfarin (Coumadin), it is best to stay away from Goji berries since there are a few reported cases of these causing interactions with this medicine.
4. If you are pregnant or breast feeding - check with your doctor first (could increase uterine contractions).
So now that we know a little bit about Goji berries, back to my recipe! Here is what this mix is made of:
-Goji Berries (If your local store doesn't have these, you can get them HERE!)
-Coconut flakes (find them here for the best kind!)
-Diced dried apricots
-Carob chips (Carob chips are a great alternative when you want something different than chocolate chips! Find them HERE)
Mix a bunch together, and there you have my little snack. Filling, satisfying, yummy and nutritious. A different spin on your regular trail mix. And it looks like fall. :-)
We've all had those patients. You just want to roll your eyes and say "seriously?" Why is it that some patients have such a hard time just complying with what they are told to do by their doctor? Specific instructions can be gone over again and again with head nods and "um-hhm"s all day long, yet when they go home, none of that actually happens. It can seem strange, and down right frustrating to medical staff to see that same patient show up down the line with multiple more issues that are a direct result of not following instructions that were clearly laid out. They were told of the damage that could happen if they did not follow the medical advice given, yet they chose to ignore all instruction and do what they wanted instead. It makes you think... do they like being sick? Do they enjoy being a patient in the hospital? I don't get it! Why won't they follow simple instructions to help themselves? What is wrong with them???
And then comes the best part. They complain about the problems that have directly resulted from their own non-compliance. It can make you want to scream. We could easily lose our patience at this point. It's like dealing with a defiant toddler who then has a temper tantrum because he got in trouble from not listening to your rules. Sound familiar?
Then let's look at ourselves. Are we really any different when it comes being compliant in our own lives with doing things we KNOW are beneficial for our own health? Not always. How often do we say things like "Yeah, I know I should exercise, but I don't feel like it", or "I could eat better, but I like sugar too much", or "I don't have time to food prep and take care of myself... I'm too busy". That's all well and good, until we start saying what comes down the line: "I don't know why I just can't lose weight... it must be because I'm getting older", or "I wish I could keep up with my kids, but I just can't", or "I'm so frustrated that I have heart disease (or... fill in the blank); why do I have to be sick?". Then we complain. We complain about not having the outcomes we wanted for our own health, yet we often completely ignore the clear instructions we've all heard before on how to avoid the messy outcome we ended up with. Don't complain about the results you got from the work you didn't do. Isn't that what we would tell our patients? It seems so obvious looking at a non-compliant patient in this instance, yet it gets a bit uncomfortable when we turn it onto ourselves. We know what we need to do. Are you happy with the results your getting? Or are you complaining about your current situation when you've been non-compliant all along? It's something to think about.
We wish we could make patients promise to comply with medical advice, don't we? It would be nice. How about making that promise to yourself? It' time. Time to start listening to all that advice we've heard for years about the benefits of regular exercise, eating fresh foods, keeping our own stress levels in check, and actually being responsible for the results we produce. If we don't, then we're no better than those non-compliant patients that make everyone crazy at work. Don't be one of those in your own life. Take a stand and make that promise to yourself.
READY... SET... GO!!!!
These little sweet treats are super tasty, and of course, all good stuff! Perfect for a quick snack on the go, and kid friendly too! They are no bake and quick to make. These are 30 Day Reset approved as well, so no guilt here. :-)
Ingredients for this recipe:
-1 cup pitted dates
-2 cups dried apple rings (the chewy ones)
-1/4 cup cashews
-1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas!)
-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
-1 and a half teaspoons cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-pinch of sea salt
Start with adding the dates and apple rings to a food processor.
Blend for a minute or so to break the fruit down. Then add all other ingredients. Pumpkin seeds are sometimes called "pepitas", so if you see that on a label, those are pumpkin seeds! They look like this (below - although this package is just labeled pumpkin seeds). Pumpkin seeds are loaded with fiber and also a decent amount of protien, so they are a great choice to add to recipes or sprinkle on a salad.
Blend all ingredients together in food processor until well blended. Next, form small balls out of mixture and place on a clean surface. Once done, you can eat them right away, or let them sit in the fridge for an hour or so first. They store well in an airtight container in fridge for at least one week.
The night shift. It is a mystery to all those 9-5 business types out there, but usually no stranger to nurses. Many of us have started off as new nurses on this shift because it's all that was available, yet others prefer to stay on this shift for years and years because it fits their lifestyle. It might be better for child care, or maybe they just aren't morning people. If you have been a nurse for any period of time, most likely you have done nights for at least some of your career. Let's face it, it definitely has it's perks - usually free parking, more money, less noise and less doctors around to interrupt your flow - it can be very appealing to many for good reason!
But what about the downfalls? Especially when you're trying hard to take good care of yourself and be healthy and well? You often hear of people saying they gained a ton of weight working nights, or their sleep was all messed up, or they just felt rundown all the time with no energy to spare for exercise. Sometimes you get so messed up you can't even remember what day it is! These can all certainly be stumbling blocks for someone trying to stay healthy and well.
Let's be honest, our bodies are designed to be active during the day, and need rest and repair at night. Our blood sugar and hormones are regulated differently at night than they are in the daytime. Our body thinks we are supposed to be shutting down during those hours and it makes adjustments accordingly. Our muscles are not supposed to require energy during these hours, so they can become less receptive to insulin. Our digestive system would like some rest at night and does not want to be working. All of these things can potentially lead to glucose intolerance, weight gain and possibly issues with our digestive system. It can get ugly! Not to mention, sleep is vital for good health. If you're working nights and not getting any good quality sleep, you will get into trouble.
So I am proposing some strategies to help those of you who do work nights to stay as healthy as you possibly can. Avoiding health issues that can sneak up on you is vital to surviving well on the night shift. Let's look at what we can do:
1) Try to stay as closely as possible to a normal day/night pattern of food intake. Minimize eating between 12-6 am as much as possible. This gives your body and vital organs that normal night time hours of rest that they need. The liver is very busy rebuilding the body during the night. Studies show that the liver is most active between the hours of 1-3 am. It gets to work healing and cleansing the body of toxins that have accumulated during the day. If we eat large meals during this time, we can disrupt this important and healthy process the liver is trying to accomplish. So I would propose that if you work 12 hour nights (7p-7a), try to be done eating before midnight if you can take your break before then. If you start at 11pm, maybe try to eat right before you go in so you can leave the overnight hours without eating. Then, if you have time, maybe eat something right before leaving work in the morning, or maybe eat as soon as you get home before going to bed. Please avoid the temptation to snack all night long!
2) Meal prep and choose whole foods! This is key. You absolutely must have a plan for your food intake. Prepping your food at home and making sure you are bringing fresh whole foods to work with you is a life saver. Don't leave it to chance. Don't be victim of eating whatever is in the cafeteria, whatever is sitting at the nurses' station, or whatever someone decided to order out for the unit. Plan your food, and stick to the plan!
3) Exercise - get it in. This is non-negotiable. Yes, I know you might feel like crap and have no energy - even more reason to exercise. You need to rely on the energy you will get from exercise to get through your night shifts (and keep you healthy!). I used to find it helpful to exercise in the late afternoon before heading into work. That workout would give me the boost of energy I needed to get through the night. Even if it's just a brisk walk! Do something to get you going. I know it is tough if working back to back 12 hour shifts. If exercise is not possible to fit in on those days, just make sure you are not backing down on your days off. It is a MUST. And if you have any down time at night, take a brisk walk or do some stairs to help keep you awake and get in a little exercise!
4) Sleep patterns - find what works best for YOU! This is such a grey area. There is no perfect one way for everyone to get the right sleep on this shift. Some do best with staying on somewhat of a night schedule even when they are off (maybe staying up until 3am on a night off to mimic work), and some prefer going to bed as usual on a night off, then maybe napping before work the next night. The most important thing here is that you are GETTING sleep. How and when is really a personal preference. Just make sure you are getting some quality sleep! Personally, I found that napping before work screwed me up more than helped, but that's just me. I know many nurses who counted on those naps and they had to have them. Do what you need to do!
5) Use caffeine strategically. This means don't drink coffee around the clock! I know I relied on caffeine pretty heavily on nights, but I always tried to keep it to the beginning of my shift. Drink water during your shift to stay alert and hydrated. Try to avoid drinking too much caffeine at the end of your shift when you're trying to get ready for a day of sleep (unless you are one of those people who can drink a pot of coffee and go right to sleep - that's certainly not me!).
6) Make your daytime sleep as good as possible. You want your daytime sleep to be good sleep, not just feel like a little cat nap. Rule #1, turn off the ringer on your phone! Please don't forget that ever so important rule (and turn volume down or off on your answering machine!). I hear about nurses getting mad that someone called them during the day when they are sleeping. Well why is your ringer on??? You should have no idea someone tried to call you. ;-) Noise machines are also helpful for some people to drown out the daytime noises outside. If necessary, get room darkening shades and curtains to block out as much light as possible. Dark is GOOD! And be careful with regular melatonin use. I know it is popular for many, but just be aware that you can eventually train your body to no longer produce it on it's own if you are constantly taking it in a pill form.
7) Get your vitamin D levels checked. This is something most people don't think to do. Working nights or not, many of us are deficient in vitamin D. Night shift workers especially, are not getting exposure to natural sunlight as much as the rest of us. Your body must have enough vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone proper bone health. A lack of vitamin D can lead to misshapen and fragile bones in adults. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to mood swings and irritability. We don't need any more of that since we're already over tired and cranky from being awake all night anyway! Supplementation is certainly okay if you're not able to get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but good food sources to be aware of are things like fatty, cold water fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, herring), milk, cheese and eggs.
8) Last but not least - GET HOME SAFE! This might sound obvious, but it's a serious concern for night shift workers. Falling asleep at the wheel is no joke and should not be taken lightly. Make plans accordingly if you know you have issues with this problem. Carpool, use public transportation, get a taxi or an Uber! Saving your life, and potentially the lives of others, is way more important here. And if you find yourself falling asleep at the wheel, please pull over. Take a nap to shake it off, or call a friend to come get you.
Bottom line, if working nights fits your lifestyle without compromising your health very much and you are able to get plenty of quality sleep, then good for you. However, if you are someone who just cannot get sleep or find yourself really feeling awful despite trying all of the above suggestions, you may want to consider a different shift. Nights are not for everyone. I know at times you need to do what you have to do, but just make sure your own health is not taking a serious hit in the meantime. Pay attention to what your body is telling you, and be kind to yourself!
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.