Category Archives: Resources

Healthy Cookbooks I Use

I don’t usually use many recipes, but rather I combine the healthy foods I have in my refrigerator and create as I go. However, it took me time to get to this place. Like everything else it takes practice and repetition to learn what tastes good with what, and how to put it all together. These are all books I own, and use. It is great to flip through the pages and get ideas. Many of these I have owned for years. The new ones have been chosen by my kids. They want to make a list, walk to the store, and create what they see in the picture! Healthy cooking is a hobby I can get behind 100%. My Son loves the Alton Brown, Every Day Cook, and my Daughter chose The No Time To Cook! Book.

I will start sharing some of the recipes I love, and hope they help others as they have me!

I also included In Defense Of Food, those of you that have followed my journey know this was the book that began my “wake-up” call. Not a recipe book, but a reminder of what food is, and more importantly, what food is not.

Happy New Year! Happy cooking! Healthy life!







New Books on my “wish list”:


Books for kids




Last night a small portion of our Happy Body Project call was spent on simple carbs vs. complex carbs. I know all of this is a bit scientific, and a little boring, but it is really important information for all of us to know when it comes to where we get our energy!

My sad scientific attempt was boiled down to how I remember it:

Simple Carbs=Short Chains of Sugar

Straight into the bloodstream=sugar/glucose/energy rush, then crash

Complex Carbs=Long Chains of Sugar

Body has to work to get the sugar/glucose/energy out of the food by untangeling it from the fiber, so sugar is released slowly=even, sustained energy


This document from UCLA is a GREAT explanation!

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Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for your body. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.


Complex carbohydrates are energy yielding nutrients that are put to good use in the body. Technically, they are long chains of sugar molecules arranged as starches. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates are often good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Simple carbohydrates are sugars such as fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and lactose (milk sugar). Certain sugar-containing foods, such as sodas, are referred to as “empty calories” because they provide energy but little nutritional value.

 Complex Carbohydrates

You can find abundant complex carbohydrates in whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, beans, and vegetables. Because the sugar in whole fruit is combined with fiber and the sugar in milk is combined with protein, these simple carbohydrates are also considered more complex in nature. Milk products and whole fruit are also rich in nutrients, unlike other foods high in sugar.

Are Complex Carbohydrates High in Calories?

Contrary to popular belief, the calorie content of foods that contain complex carbohydrates is relatively low. Jumbo portion sizes and/or added fats, such as butter and cream sauces, are what increase the calorie content of these foods. Calorie comparisons of food items with and without added fats follow.


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Complex carbohydrates can be an excellent source of fiber, which provides you with several benefits:

  • Decreased blood cholesterol levels and reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Decreased constipation and othergastrointestinal disorders.
  • Improved w eight control bypromoting a feeling of fullness withfewer calories.
  • Improved diabetes control by slow-ing the entry of sugar into the blood.


Simple sugars are found naturally in fruit, vegetables, and milk. But most of the sugar we eat is added to foods, such as candy, cake, ice cream, many breakfast cereals, sports bars, and soft drinks. One 12 oz. can of cola actually contains ten teaspoons of pure added sugar!


The main purpose of simple carbohydrates is to enhance flavor and act as a preservative in processed foods. Since most of the food sources of simple carbohydrates contribute no protein, vitamins, or minerals to your diet, they are called “empty calorie” foods. To illustrate this point further, a nutritional comparison between a complex carbohydrate (whole wheat bread) and a simple carbohydrate (soda) is given below:

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 Know Your Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for our bodies. There are two types of c a r b o h ydrates: (1) simple carbohydrates and (2) complex carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are ultimately broken down into glu- cose (blood sugar) to fuel the cells in our bodies.


Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, include table sugar (sucrose), honey, corn syrup, molasses, and the natural sugars found in fruit (fructose), and milk (lactose). When sugars are added to foods, they provide a very concentrated form of carbohydrate, with many calories but few nutrients. Thus, they contribute many “empty calories” when added to foods such as soft drinks, cookies, candies, and other sweets. The average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugars each day, which amounts to 300 calories – the amount of sugar found in just two 12-oz. cans of soda. Added sugar should be limited to 10% of total energy intake, or 12 tsp. of sugar (48g) a day based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Complex carbohydrates, or starches, are comprised of long chains of simple sugars. They can be found in whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole fruits, vegetables, and beans. These foods not only provide calories, but they are also packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which makes them more filling and more nutritious.



Because of the way the body metabolizes sugary, processed foods, a candy bar or soda is not an ideal energy source. Most sugary, processed foods are converted immediately to glucose after consumption. This creates a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and a sudden burst of energy. But this energy is only temporary. The high blood sugar levels cause the pancreas to secrete large quantities of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that works to promote fuel storage in the body. When sugary, processed foods enter the body, a high concentration of insulin is secreted which causes glucose to be rapidly removed from the blood, leaving you without energy and craving more sugar. Thus, people who eat candy bars and soda for quick energy are actually defeating their purpose.

Most high-fiber, complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly than sugary, processed foods. As a result, blood sugar levels rise more slowly and steadily, and insulin is secreted in lower concentrations. This means that glucose leaves the blood more gradually, giving your more sustained energy.

Choosing Whole Grains

Not all complex carbohydrates carry the same nutritional benefits. “Refined,” starchy foods like white rice, white pasta, white bread, and cereals made from “enriched wheat flour,” lack the fiber and several of the nutrients that “whole grain” foods provide. In a sense, refined, starchy foods act more like simple sugars in the body and provide mostly empty calories.


A whole grain has four parts: the germ (the nutrient-rich inner part), the endosperm (the soft white, starchy inside portion), the bran (the fibrous coating around the grain), and the husk (the outer inedible shell).


Refinement is the process that removes all but the endosperm portion of the grain, leaving a white, nutrient-poor, refined flour.


Enrichment is the process that adds back five nutrients to white, refined flour: iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. All the other nutrients from the whole grain are still lost (magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, chromium, vitamin E, and fiber).


Use the following guidelines to make sure you are really getting whole grain products:

Wheat: “Wheat Flour” is the generic term for any flour made from wheat.

  • Cracked wheat, stoned wheat, wheatberry, 100% wheat, seven-grain, and multi-grain areall made from mostly refined grains, not whole grains.
  • Look for the word “whole” before “grain” or “wheat” on product labels. It also should bethe first ingredient listed.Rye and Pumpernickel: These types of products usually contain little, if any, whole grains.

    Oats: Oat products are generally whole grain, no matter how you slice it–instant, regular, fine-cut, or coarse-cut. The one exception is oatmeal bread where the first ingredient listed on the label is usually refined wheat flour. You’ll find oats way down on the ingredients list.

    Rice: Brown and wild rice are whole grains. White rice is not.
    Other Whole Grain Products: Try bulgar wheat, whole wheat couscous, whole wheat pastas.

    ©2005 The Regents of the University of California
    The data provided isresearched and interpreted by health professionals at UCLA.Varying opinions may be held by others in the health care field.


You will see me reference this book a lot as I blog. The secret to my weight loss was found on the first page of this book, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The 7 words that changed my life. IN DEFENSE OF FOOD is a conversation about the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating, and more importantly how we can change it.

“In Defense of Food shows us how, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context — out of the car and back to the table. Michael Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.”

How Complaining Rewires The Brain

Read the original Article by Annie Wood here

How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity (and How to Break the Habit)

By Annie Wood via Tiny Buddha

When I was about sixteen or so, one of my parent’s friends got into some trouble with the law. When we’d visit him he’d often shake his head from side to side and mumble, my life is in the toilet.

He said it many times, for many years, even when things seemed to have gotten better for him.

My life is in the toilet was his mantra.

At the time I thought it was funny, so I adopted it for myself, until one day I started to believe it. I’ve since dumped that charming phrase and gotten a new mantra.

Things haven’t magically become ideal for me since I did that. I mean, there’s this pinched nerve in my neck and those construction sounds across the street, and I could really use some more work, and…

Type of Drains

Everyone complains, at some point, at least a little, says Robin Kowalski, PhD, a professor of psychology at Clemson University.

There are different types of complainers, according to Kowalski, such as The Venter. The Venter is a “dissatisfied person who doesn’t want to hear solutions, however brilliant.”

Venting. We’re just letting off steam, right? Maybe not. I’ve personally found that the complain drain can be soul draining, not just for the complainer, but for all within earshot.

Other types you may have met along the way (or may be yourself) are the Sympathy Seekers, the I got it worse than you do, and the habitualeverything sucks folks.

The Chronic Complainers, those living in a state of complaint, do something researchers call “ruminating.” This basically means thinking and complaining about a problem again and again. Instead of feeling a release after complaining, this sort of complaining can actually make things worse. It can cause even more worry andanxiety.

No one is suggesting you be a peachy-keen-Josephine and pretend all is swell when it isn’t. What I’ve learned in my mindfulness practice is to aim to do the opposite.

In mindfulness meditation, we try to experience fully the truth of the situation, in this exact moment, and allow it to just be. Easier said than done (but what isn’t?) Still, with practice, the need to express our dissatisfaction for things not being how we’d like them to be lessens.

Can’t We Just Call Roto-Rooter?

Running with this drain analogy…

Call Roto-Rooter, that’s the name and away go troubles down the drain!

When I was a kid I loved singing along to those Roto-Rooter commercials. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could “away go troubles down the drain?” Well, maybe we can.

Most of us may have been unintentionally reinforcing the nasty habit of complaining, by virtue of… complaining.

There’s something called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” which is the continuing creation and grouping of neuron connections in our brains that take place as a result of our life experiences.

Neuroscience teaches us that neurons that fire together, wire together. Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist, coined that phrase back in 1949. What this means is that whenever we think a thought or have a feeling or physical sensation, thousands of neurons are triggered and they all get together to form a neural network.

With repetitive thinking, the brain learns to trigger the same neurons each time.

So, if you keep your mind looping on self-criticism, worries, and how nothing is working out for you, your mind will more easily find that part of your brain and will quickly assist you in thinking those same thoughts again.

This shapes your mind into greater reactivity, making you more vulnerable to anxiety.

Imagine a truck driving down a muddy road. The wheels create a groove in the mud, and each time that truck drives down that exact spot, the groove gets deeper and deeper.

The truck might even, eventually, get stuck in that mud rut. But it doesn’t have to. Instead of repeating the same negative complaints, we can drive our thoughts on a different road so we don’t get stuck in that negative mud rut.

Throughout our lives we are wiring our brains, based on our repetitive thinking. We get good at what we practice.

If we worry, creating more unease and anxiety, we become stellar worriers since our brain is responding, making it easier for us to worry each time we do it, thus creating our default mode living.

Default mode living is our habitual way of going about our lives. It’s our reacting minds as opposed to ourresponding minds.

Our reacting minds are often knee-jerk reactions to something. We often say or do things that we’ve said and done in the past, as if we were in that default mode living, on automatic pilot. But our responding minds come into play when we give ourselves a pause before responding to a situation.

We ask ourselves what’s really going on and what the next best step is. It’s a clearer response in the moment that’s not linked to past responses. So, how do we respond instead of react?

4 D.I.Y. Tips – Stop The Drain!

You’re stuck in traffic and not only are you complaining out loud to the cars that are in your way, you’re imagining getting home and complaining to tell your significant other all about it. You’re practicing this conversation in your head while in the car. Your heart races, your forehead tenses up. It’s all so very annoying! What to do?

1. Catch yourself.

During meditation we soon find out that our minds will wander. The moment when we notice it wandering and we bring it back to our focus, our breath, that moment is what one of my teachers calls “that magic moment.”

The catching yourself is the practice. Also, the not judging or berating yourself for having a mind that thinks thoughts. All minds think thoughts. That’s their job.

So to stop the drain:

  • Catch yourself in a complaint.
  • Stop complaining.
  • Congratulate yourself—you’re aware!

2. Be grateful.

I’ve tried it; I simply can’t seem to complain and be grateful at the same time!

I’m stuck in traffic, but I’m grateful to have a car. I’m grateful for the song that’s playing on the radio and the sunny day.

It doesn’t matter what you’re grateful for; it can be the smallest thing, just notice. Complaining could very well be the evil twin of gratitude. Favor gratitude.

3. Practice wise effort.

In Buddhism, wise effort is letting go of that which is not helpful and cultivating that which is skillful.

In the book Awakening the Buddha Within, Lama Surya Das breaks down wise effort into four aspects, the first one being, restraint: “the effort to prevent unskillful thoughts and actions.”

Make the effort to pay attention and catch your complaining, negative thoughts before they become words.

Try it out and see how it feels. You might be surprised as to where you habitually have been putting your energy. Everything takes a certain amount of energy.

Next time you find yourself caught in a complaining loop, pause and regroup. Make the choice to put your energy elsewhere. The more you do this, the easier it gets.

4. Make a new groove.

Just the way our thoughts created that groove to make negative thoughts easier to replicate, we can create a brand new groove for pleasant feelings.

The more often we allow our minds to remember the good stuff, the easier that kind of thinking becomes.

Do you want to be the person who’s never satisfied and can always find fault in others, yourself, and the world at large? Or would you rather be someone who sees things as they are and finds a way to make peace with it? Let’s pretend it’s up to you. Oh, wait, it is up to you.

So, what do you say? You don’t need Roto Rooter to flush your troubles down the drain. Just make a new groove.

Image Credit

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Hacking Into Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin

From The Huffington Post

Thai Nguyen 

We might not have a money tree, but we can have a happiness tree. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are the quartet responsible for our happiness. Many events can trigger these neurotransmitters, but rather than being in the passenger seat, there are ways we can intentionally cause them to flow.

Being in a positive state has significant impact on our motivation, productivity, and wellbeing. No sane person would be opposed to having higher levels in those areas.

Here are some simple ways to hack into our positive neurochemicals:


Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine. Studies on rats showed those with low levels of dopamine always opted for an easy option and less food; those with higher levels exerted the effort needed to receive twice the amount of food.

Break big goals down into little pieces — rather than only allowing our brains to celebrate when we’ve hit the finish line, we can create a series of little finish lines which releases dopamine. And it’s crucial to actually celebrate — buy a bottle of wine, or head to your favorite restaurant whenever you meet a small goal.

Instead of being left with a dopamine hangover, create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a continual flow for experiencing dopamine. As an employer and leader, recognizing the accomplishments of your team, e.g. sending them an email, or giving a bonus, will allow them to have a dopamine hit and increase future motivation and productivity.


Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. Loneliness and depression appears when serotonin is absent. It’s perhaps one reason why people fall into gang and criminal activity — the culture brings experiences that facilitate serotonin release. Unhealthy attention-seeking behavior can also be a cry for what serotonin brings. Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs explains that most antidepressants focus on the production of serotonin.

Reflecting on past significant achievements allows the brain to re-live the experience. Our brain has trouble telling the difference between what’s real and imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases. It’s another reason why gratitude practices are popular. They remind us that we are valued and have much to value in life. If you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on a past achievements and victories.

Have lunch or coffee outside and expose yourself to the sun for 20 minutes; our skin absorbs UV rays, which promotes vitamin D and serotonin production. Although too much ultraviolet light isn’t good, some daily exposure is healthy to boost serotonin levels.


Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and builds healthy relationships. It’s released by men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. Animals will reject their offspring when the release of oxytocin is blocked. Oxytocin increases fidelity; men in monogamous relationships who were given a boost of oxytocin interacted with single women at a greater physical distance then men who weren’t given any oxytocin. The cultivation of oxytocin is essential for creating strong bonds and improved social interactions.

Often referred to as the cuddle hormone, a simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give someone a hug. Dr. Paul Zak explains that inter-personal touch not only only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system; rather than just a hand shake, go in for the hug. Dr. Zak recommends eight hugs each day.

When someone receives a gift, their oxytocin levels can rise. You can strengthen work and personal relationships through a simple birthday or anniversary gift.


Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. The surging “second wind” and euphoric “runners high” during and after a vigorous run are a result of endorphins. Similar to morphine, it acts as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.

Along with regular exercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even the anticipation and expectation of laugher, e.g., attending a comedy show, increases levels of endorphins. Taking your sense of humor to work, forwarding that funny email, and finding several things to laugh at during the day is a great way to keep the doctor away.

Aromatherapies: The smell of vanilla and lavender has been linked with the production of endorphins. Studies have shown that dark chocolate and spicy foods can lead the brain to release endorphins. Keep some scented oils and some dark chocolate at your desk for a quick endorphin boost.


The Moral Bucket List

The Moral Bucket list 

David Brooks is an Op-Ed columnist and the author, most recently, of “The Road to Character,” from which this essay is adapted.

“It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”

Click above for the full NYT’s article. A really thought-provoking read. The term “unconscious boredom” really resonated with me. This is an actual place many of us call home, perhaps without even realizing it.