This Holiday Week-end Let’s Play a Game of “Instead Of”

This game is designed to challenge you to think about healthy alternatives to your usual holiday week-end food choices.  I am always surprised at how quickly people abandon their commitment to nourishing their bodies when celebrations come along.  For example, birthdays are often celebrated with rich, sugar-filled cakes covered in sugar-filled icings and laden with fats and artificial ingredients. Yet, there are wonderfully delicious, much-healthier alternatives like my Chocolate Cake made with quinoa and cacao. And, don’t get me started on the consumption of soft drinks at parties. One small can of Coke contains 39 grams of added sugar, 45 grams of sodium and 34 milligrams of caffeine. YUCK!  So, one can of coke contains more than the World Health Organization’s recommended total daily sugar intake of 25 grams of sugar (natural and added) for adults. And we give this junk to children!!!! So, to make a point:  one 12-ounce can of Coke contains 156% of an adult’s total recommended daily sugar consumption. 

Instead Of Soft Drinks

Instead of choosing beverages that have absolutely no nutritional value, way too much added sugar, and in the case of Coke that also has caffeine known to contribute to dehydration, choose one of these thirst-quenching beverages. Yes, fruit and veggie drinks have some natural sugars, so drink lots of plain or infused water and unsweetened iced sun tea throughout the day as well.

Instead of Salty Snacks

I can’t remember ever being at a celebration where these salty snacks were not a big part of the party food fare.  Potato chips (or crisps as my husband calls them) and pretzels are easy and inexpensive snack foods to serve but they are nothing but fat, sodium and empty calories. A 1-oz serving of potato chips – and, let’s be honest, who only eats 1-oz – contains 3.1 grams of saturated fat and anywhere from 170 to 215 milligrams of sodium depending on the type of chip. While sodium is important to our bodies, we get plenty of it from other more nutritious foods, so the added sodium you get from these salty snacks simply can’t be justified.

Roasted Veggies – asparagus, cauliflower, carrots – are really delicious served cold and make an awesome, healthy snack. Raw, unsalted nuts and edamame are great finger foods packed with protein and fiber; and raw veggies such as celery, carrots, red peppers, broccoli and cherry tomatoes have a great crunch and flavor factor as well as lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your body in peak shape.

Instead of Meat

Grill a delicious homemade Black-Bean Burger that is a much healthier not to mention cruelty free alternative to ground beef or hot dogs. Another tasty option is to grill some Tofurky Artisan Sausage. I love these with some grilled onions! A lovely selection of salads such a my Carrot, Cumin and Coriander Salad and Simple Summer Chickpea Salad as well as my Bits and Bobs Salad will add nutritious variety, color and texture to your meal.  Add some traditional sides such as my Picnic Perfect Potato Salad or try something new instead of a coleslaw like Wildbrine Beets & Cabbage Sauerkraut.

Wasn’t this game of “Instead Of” fun?  There are so many wonderful foods you can bring to your holiday picnic or while enjoying time with family and friends at home.  Nourishing your body is easy. Make the choice now to live without regret.

THIS HOLIDAY WEEK-END, PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE

4th July

 

 

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Tea – a beverage with benefits!

Title of Blog Post Photo of Tea Shrubs

Tea has been around for thousands of years and is the second most consumed beverage in the world (1st place goes to water). Cultivated primarily in China, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, the leaves and leaf buds of this small shrub of the plant species Camellia Sinensis, are used to make the four main varieties of tea: white, green, oolong & black.  The difference among these varieties come from the processing of the leaves or leaf buds as they all originate from the same plant.  White tea comes from the leaf buds. The buds are allowed to air dry and then they are steamed to prevent any oxidation from taking place. Green tea is the product of tea leaves that have been wilted and then steamed to prevent oxidation. Oolong is the product of tea leaves that are wilted then allowed to partially oxidize through bruising of the leaf edges. The leaves are then steamed to stop the oxidation process.  Finally black tea is produced by full oxidation of the leaves. The dried leaves turn black thus the name black tea.

The name “tea” has evolved into a generic term used for hot and cold beverages, made from a variety of plants, other than the tea shrub, including many herbs and fruits. In a later blog I’ll talk about herbal teas, but for now let’s discuss the awesome benefits of the true tea (camellia sinensis) plant’s leaves and buds.

A cup of tea can heal the body and soothe the soul.It can renew the spirit and calm the mind.

So, what are the benefits of drinking tea? How much time do you have……

All four varieties of tea – white, green, oolong and black; offer a plethora of benefits, not the least of which are the health benefits derived from the abundance of antioxidants tea provides. Tea contains catechins, a type of flavonoid that studies have shown protect against coronary artery disease, improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes, and help prevent osteoporosis and periodontal disease. Tea, especially green tea, has been found to lower bad cholesterol, offer anti-inflammatory benefits, and support proper blood flow helping manage appropriate blood pressure. Improved blood flow supports our brain function and there are some studies that show tea may be helpful in blocking the formation of plaques in the brain.  Tea contains caffeine as well that may contribute to improved mental alertness.

Our mental health benefits from a cup of tea too.  The lovely aroma of tea has a very calming effect; and the act of sitting down with a cup of tea, sipping it slowly and allowing yourself to relax and enjoy this lovely beverage is extremely therapeutic. Enjoying a conversation with a friend over a cup of tea is a lovely way to spend a hour or two, right?

How do you get the most out of your cup of tea?

Preparing the perfect pot of tea is not difficult; but to get the most benefit and pleasure from tea a little forethought is worthwhile.

  1. First, buy the best tea leaves and buds you can – preferably loose tea. I recently found a exquisite Tea Shop in Las Vegas, Sheffield Spice & Tea Co, owned by a lovely couple – The Sheffields – who are so knowledgeable and really care about quality and customer service. It smells so wonderful in their shop and they have so many lovely teas (and spices) to choose from.  They also have a large assortment of beautiful tea pots and accessories – you just have to see for yourself.  If you don’t live in the area, check out their website. They can ship anywhere!
  2. Check with your tea supplier about the right temperature of water to use when making your tea. Boiling water can actually cause damage and reduce the benefits the tea leaves and buds offer. For example, the water temperature for green tea should be between 160F and 170F. There is no need to use a thermometer though – just bring your water to a boil then turn the kettle off while you put the tea leaves in your tea pot. By the time you are ready to pour the water in it will have cooled off from the boiling point.
  3. tea timeA tea infuser is perfect for keeping the leaves and buds neat and tidy in your tea pot.  I have a lovely tea strainer I like to use to catch the tea before it slides into my tea cup.
  4. I believe tea tastes the best when served in a lovely tea cup.
  5. Tea is best consumed without dairy and sweeteners; however, a little citrus such as lemon is  believed to aid the absorption of tea’s beneficial components.
  6. Should you choose to buy teabags, PLEASE read the labels or check with the company before making your purchase.  Not all teabags are alike and some can actually be harmful to you.  Did you know that many mass producers of teabags actually use plastic in their bags? Yes, it’s true! When you pour very hot water over these plastic teabags, you may be adding more than you bargained for to your tea. The chemicals in the plastic can leach out into your beverage. Do you really want to drink liquid plastic?  Other companies use bleach in their bags to make the bags “aesthetically pleasing”. Yikes, drinking bleach doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.
    NUMI tea bags
    I buy NUMI tea when teabags make the most sense such as when I am traveling or sending a care package to someone.  NUMI makes sure your organic tea is not spoiled by harmful teabags.

 

 

Enjoy a soothing, relaxing cup of tea every day. It will nourish your body and nourish your soul.  Tea is truly a beverage with benefits.

 

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